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Astronomers Begin a Massive Survey of the Milky Way.

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US and Russia Renew Commitment to the Space Station

Jun 2, 2003 - During the G-8 summit held in St. Petersburg, President Bush of the US and President Putin of Russia renewed their commitment to the construction and maintenance of the International Space Station and other joint space exploration. A brief statement from the Whitehouse confirmed that each member country would continue its role in the partnership, but was vague about any future spaceflight plans.

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Astronomers Begin a Massive Survey of the Milky Way

Jun 2, 2003 - Researchers from 11 countries are working together to measure the motion and composition of 50 million stars in the Milky Way. This new survey is called RAVE (Radial Velocity Experiment), and Astronomers will be able to use the data gathered to construct a very detailed history of our galaxy. They will be able to determine which widely separated stars were formed at a single location, and help answer competing theories about how our Galaxy formed. The pilot phase of the project will begin with the UK Schmidt telescope which can measure 600 stars a night, and then production will pick up as other observatories join the hunt.

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Image credit: Gemini
Gemini Demonstrates Its Adaptive Optics

Jun 2, 2003 - The latest image taken by the Gemini telescope in Mauna Kea Hawaii demonstrates how powerful its new adaptive optics technology can be. The telescope captured an image of the globular cluster M-13, first with its normal resolution and then using the Altair adaptive optics system; the second image is crystal clear, and contains many more stars which are finely focused. The adaptive optics compensate up to 1000 times a second for distortions caused by the Earth's atmosphere, so the light appears as if the telescope was in space. This technology is expected to revolutionize ground-based astronomy.

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Image credit: ESA
Mars Express is On Its Way

Jun 2, 2003 - After a picture perfect launch Monday afternoon, the European Space Agency's Mars Express is now headed towards the Red Planet. The spacecraft, attached to the top of a 4-stage Russian Soyuz-Fregat rocket, lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 1745 GMT. Over the course of the next 90 minutes, the rocket shed each one of its four stages during an orbit around the Earth and then hurled the Mars Express into its planned trajectory. Mars Express communicated back with European Space Operations at 1944 GMT. The probe's solar arrays had deployed properly, its batteries are working, and the spacecraft seems to be working normally. It will reach Mars in another six months.

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