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Countdown for Mars Express Begins.

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Image credit: NASA
Foam Does Seem to Be the Culprit in the Columbia Disaster

May 20, 2003 - Investigators said today that they believe chunks of foam have torn off shuttle fuel tanks in the past, and that this is still the mostly likely cause of the destruction of Columbia. By analyzing launch videos, the investigators found instances in six previous flights where foam peeled off the tanks and struck the shuttle. The group’s final report is expected to be delivered later this summer, and is expected to include recommendations for NASA’s management practices, safety programs and culture.

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Image credit: ESA
Countdown for Mars Express Begins

May 20, 2003 - Controllers at the European Space Agency officially began the countdown clock for the launch of the Mars Express spacecraft today. If everything goes according to plan, the spacecraft will launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 2, and it will arrive at Mars around December 25th. On board the spacecraft is the Beagle 2 lander, which will search for signs of past and present life on the surface of Mars.

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Image credit: NASA
Newly Discovered star Could Be the Third Closest

May 20, 2003 - NASA Astronomers have discovered what they believe could be the third closest star to our own Sun. The star, now called SO25300.5+165258, is a faint red star estimated to be about 7.8 million light years away in the constellation of Aries. This is just beyond Alpha Centauri (which is actually a group of three stars) and Bernard’s Star. This new star hasn’t been discovered until now because it only has 7% of the mass of our own Sun, and is 300,000 times fainter.

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