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Odyssey Completes Aerobraking Maneuvers
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft completed the final stage of its aerobraking maneuvers when it fired its thrusters and scraped through Mars' atmosphere on Friday. This final maneuver has placed Odyssey into a elliptical orbit that brings the spacecraft between 201 and 500 km away from the planet's surface. The spacecraft will fire its thrusters a few more times over the coming weeks to place it into a 400km orbit - then it will begin its official mission scanning the surface of Mars for evidence of water.
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Antarctic Team Finds Rare Life
A team of Canadian and New Zealand scientists have discovered organisms buried deep underneath the Artarctic desert, which gives new hope to the theory that Mars may also support life. The microorganisms were found living in soil with high concentrations of salt - so much salt, that water is kept in a liquid state, even when temperatures drop well below freezing. The researchers hope that the same conditions can occur on Mars, offering new hope to the possibility of life is still on the Red Planet.
Expedition 4 Completes First Spacewalk
The latest crew of the International Space Station went on their first spacewalk Monday to relocate a large cargo crane. During the six-hour outing, Yuri Onufrienko and Carl Walz repositioned the Russian Strela cargo crane to help the crew assemble future components of the station. During their time outside, the spacewalkers also installed a new radio antenna, which will help the crew communicate with amateurs on the ground.
Determining the Exact Distance to the Moon
An Astronomer from the University of Washington is hoping to pin down the exact distance from the Earth to the Moon - to the last millimetre. Using a collection of instruments including a telescope, laser beam and several reflecting mirrors, he will use a technique called "laser ranging" to collect data over the next five years to reach the most accurate distance ever measured. Current measurements, although very precise, are only accurate to a few centimetres.
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