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Tightest Binary System Discovered.

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Those Daring Chinese and Their Flying Machines

Image credit: Xinhua
Okay, as you know, I love to examine the latest speculation about the state of the Chinese human space program (if you didn't know that, then you just don't read universe Today enough... or maybe I don't write it enough... on second thought, don't answer that). Since the Chinese are generally so tight-lipped about the whole process, it gives journalists and kooks a lot of room to speculate (I won't say which sources are which). There've been a whole series of speculative articles pumped out in the last couple of days so I thought I'd tie them all together for you into one perplexing vision of the future of human spaceflight.

Reuters and the Associate Press are reporting that the Chinese are training fighter pilots in secret for their first generation of astronauts (secret's out now). Speculators anticipate these lucky flyboys will see space by 2005. CNN is carrying the Reuters article while SPACE.com has the AP article.

What about their plans for the Moon and Mars? Apparently the Chinese have designs on putting a base on the Moon and eventually travelling to Mars... but officials deny those rumours.

Tightest Binary System Discovered

Image credit: Gemini
Thanks to the adaptive optics system of the Gemini observatory, Astronomers have been able to spot a brown dwarf orbiting a star only three times the distance of the Earth to the Sun. This newly discovered pair, LHS 2397a, is located only 46 light years from Earth and is the closest separation of a Binary star ever uncovered. The Hawaii-based Gemini telescope is so powerful because it uses a flexible mirror that counteracts the blurring caused by the Earth's atmosphere.

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May 21, 2002, 9:23pm

Cassini's Feeling Fine

Image credit: NASA
NASA's Cassini spacecraft continues to hurtle towards its distant rendezvous with the planet Saturn in July 1, 2004. Controllers had the spacecraft take some test photographs of a star, and the camera haze that showed up earlier in the mission appears to be clearing up, as they had hoped it would. The most recent communication with the spacecraft by the Goldstone tracking station last week indicated that Cassini is in excellent health and working normally.

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May 21, 2002, 9:17pm

Oxygen System Working Again

Image credit: NASA
The crew of the International Space Station successfully repaired the malfunctioning oxygen system over the weekend. The system was malfunctioning over the course of last week, so it was brought offline so the crew could make repairs. Life support equipment was shut down again on Sunday for three hours - NASA engineers believe it was because of bad computer data - but everything was brought online again on Monday. Station residents weren't in any danger during either problem.

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May 21, 2002, 8:47pm

Eleven More Jupiter Moons Discovered

Image credit: NASA
Jupiter pushed past the other planets with the recent discovery of 11 new moons, bringing its total to 39. A team of US Astronomers discovered the additional satellites (all 2-4 kilometres in diameter) using one of the world's most powerful telescopes: the Canada-France-Hawaii 3.6 metre. Digital images of the space around Jupiter were processed using computers to detect objects moving in orbit, and to reject passing asteroids.

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May 17, 2002, 9:07pm

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