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Odyssey Serves Up Canyon Images.

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Atlantis on Your Desktop

Image credit: NASA
Okay, time to replace your desktop with this recent photo of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the launch pad in early evening. Download the version that fits your screen resolution. Once the image has fully loaded in your web browser, right-click on the image and choose "Set as Background".

1024x768 (157k) - 800x600 (106k) - 640x480 (75k)

Fraser Cain, Publisher

Universe Today

Mar 27, 2002, 7:58pm

Odyssey Serves Up Canyon Images

Image credit: NASA
Now in its final orbit, Mars Odyssey is getting to work searching for water on the surface of the planet. The most recent set of images returned are of a network of channels taken by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS). The Nirgal Vallis is a channel 500 km long and 6 km wide at this point - Astronomers believe that gullies on the side of the channel were formed when water erupted to the surface.

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Mar 27, 2002, 7:47pm

Gemini Builds Animation of Galactic Core

Image credit: Gemini
The Gemini Observatory located on top of Hawaii's Mauna Kea has been used to create an animation of the action going on in Galaxy NGC 1068. Using a tool called the Integral Field Unit, Astronomers have been able to create a 3-dimensional animation of the tremendous jet emanating from the supermassive black hole as it slams into the galactic gas disk.

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Mar 27, 2002, 6:58pm

A Solution for Dizzy Astronauts?

Image credit: NASA
It's been a problem since the beginning of spaceflight: whenever astronauts return to Earth they get a bit dizzy. When spacefarers return to the Earth's gravity field, their blood pressure drops temporarily as their bodies adjust. A new medication, called Midodrine, may help to prevent the condition by constricting the blood vessels to increase blood pressure. This could help astronauts remain focused during the critical re-entry through the Earth's atmosphere.

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Mar 26, 2002, 3:53pm

NASA Showcases its Airbag System

Image credit: NASA
It was a bit of a rough ride, but Pathfinder arrived on the surface of Mars back in 1997 in perfect condition. It was the innovative (and unproven) airbag system that helped slow the lander's descent, so NASA is planning to employ the system again for the 2003 Mars Exploration Rover missions. These rovers have a different mass than Pathfinder, so NASA engineers have gone back to the drawing board to figure out how to make airbags that inflate seconds before touchdown and can withstand an impact at freeway speeds.

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Mar 26, 2002, 3:42pm

Galileo Navigation System is a Go

Image credit: ESA
European transport ministers have approved a plan to develop Galileo, a satellite navigation system. Galileo, which is due to come online in 2008, is expected to cost $3.15 billion US and will consist of 30 satellites deployed in three circular Medium Earth Orbits at an altitude of 23,616 km. Although the system will compete with the US-built Global Positioning System, the designers say the two networks will be compatible and provide redundancy.

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Mar 26, 2002, 3:30pm

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