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Mars Surveyor Snaps Phobos.

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Image credit: NASA/JPL
Mars Surveyor Snaps Phobos

Jun 23, 2003 - NASA's Mars Global Surveyor took several photos of Mars' Moon Phobos on June 1, 2003. The first image is a low-resolution shot of Phobos about to set behind the Red Planet; while the second, higher resolution image shows incredible details on the moon's surface. Phobos orbits Mars three times a day at an average distance of only 9,378 kilometres - if you stood on the surface of Phobos, Mars would nearly fill the sky above.

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Image credit: NASA/JPL
Opportunity Pushed Back a Day

Jun 23, 2003 - NASA decided to push back the launch of the second Mars Explorer rover this week because of a minor problem with its Delta rocket. Engineers decided to replace a protective band of cork insulation on the rocket's first stage. The time to make this replacement will push back the launch of "Opportunity" to Sunday, June 29 at 0356 GMT (11:56 pm Saturday EDT). If all goes well, Opportunity will follow Spirit, which is already on its way to Mars, and is expected to arrive in early January 2004.

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Image credit: NSO
Adaptive Optics Improve Images of the Sun

Jun 23, 2003 - A new adaptive optics system is helping the National Solar Observatory take much more vivid images of the Sun. Earth-based Telescopes are limited in resolution by atmospheric distortion, so there was no real point of building them larger than 1.5 metres across - bigger didn't help. With the new NSO system; however, solar Telescopes can now be built 4-metres and larger. This should allow solar Astronomers to better understand the processes of solar magnetism and other activities.

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Image credit: ESA
Antenna Problems on SOHO

Jun 23, 2003 - The NASA/ESA SOHO spacecraft, which observes the Sun, is having problems pointing its high-gain antenna, which it uses to transmit data back to Earth. The cause of the problem hasn't been figured out yet, but experts think there's something wrong with its motor or in the gear assembly that steers the antenna - fortunately, its low-gain antenna is still working, so they can still communicate with the spacecraft. If they can't figure out the problem, SOHO isn't going to be able to transmit data back as quickly, so there will be blackout periods.

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