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Beagle 2 is Ready for Launch.


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Beagle 2 is Ready for Launch

May 27, 2003 - In less than five days the UK's Mars Express mission will lift off, carrying the smallest lander ever sent to the Red Planet, the Beagle 2, in search of life. Weighing in at only 32.7 kilograms, the Beagle 2 will land on the surface of Mars on December 25 in the Idisis Basin near the Martian equator using a similar airbag technology employed by the Mars Pathfinder in 1997. Once safely on the surface, it will open up like set of solar panels like a 5-petaled flower and then use a robot arm to reach about 1-metre around it to collect samples and analyze them for the presence of life.

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Image credit: ESA
ESA Commits Money to Get Ariane 5 Flying Again

May 27, 2003 - During their meeting in Paris on Tuesday, the European Space Agency decided to commit additional funds to get the Ariane 5 rocket program back on track, as well as develop future launch vehicles. Part of this decision is in response to the explosion of an Ariane-5 rocket back in December, 2002, which set the agency's commercial satellite program back. The ministers committed $270 million to support two more launches of the Ariane 5 next year, and then another $1.14 billion to be paid out over 2005-2009.

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Image credit: NRAO
Astronomers Find a supernova Factory

May 27, 2003 - Using the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), Astronomers have discovered a recently exploded supernova 140 light years from Earth. The supernova is in a region where two Galaxies are colliding together, and furiously forming new stars. The Astronomers consider this super star cluster region a "supernova factory" because a star goes off there once every two years - they're hoping to catch more massive stars going supernova.

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Image credit: NASA
NASA Pushes Back Mars Rover Launch

May 27, 2003 - NASA has decided to push back the launch of its first Mars Rover this summer to spend more time doing engineering reviews - at least three days, making the launch date no earlier than June 8. If all goes well, the first rover, MER-A will lift off on board a Delta 2 rocket and arrive at Mars on January 4, 2004. The second, MER-B will launch a few days later, and arrive on January 25. When they arrive at Mars, the twin rovers will explore the surface of the Red Planet, searching for past conditions that may have supported life.

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