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Hubble Spots planets Drifting through Globular Cluster.
June 27, 2001
Solar Plane Could Replace Some Satellites
Serious Debate About Space Tourism
Watch the Skies for Bootid Meteor Shower
Hubble Spots planets Drifting through Globular Cluster
SOLAR PLANE COULD REPLACE SOME SATELLITES
Engineers from NASA are working on a solar-powered plane that will be able to reach an altitude of over 30,000 metres and eventually stay aloft for months at a time. Named the Helios prototype, the plane is expected to take off from a modified runway in Hawaii and test how well it performs in the air - high altitude and long-duration tests are set to follow. NASA sees this solar-powered aircraft as a viable alternative to some communication and Earth-observing satellites because of its relatively low cost.
SERIOUS DEBATE ABOUT SPACE TOURISM
Buzz Aldrin, Dennis Tito and other space tourism advocates addressed congressional leaders on Tuesday, and presented their ideas on how NASA should incorporate wealthy tourists into its budget plans. They believe that NASA could energize a new industry by making open seats on shuttle flights available to paying passengers - like the $20 million Tito spent on his trip earlier this year.
WATCH THE SKIES FOR BOOTID METEOR SHOWER
The June Bootid meteor shower is expected to reach its peak on Wednesday and should produce meteors for about a week. Created by the dust trail left by Comet 7P/Pons-Winnecke, the shower usually only produces a few meteors an hour; however, for brief times and shower has been known to burst for up to 100 meteors/hour. The best time to see the shower is to look West between midnight and 4:00am local time.
HUBBLE SPOTS planets DRIFTING THROUGH GLOBULAR CLUSTER
New images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope show what seem to be planet-sized objects wandering through globular star cluster M22. The astronomy team used a technique called microlensing, to spot the objects and calculate their mass (no greater than 80x the mass of the Earth, they believe). Microlensing works when a dark object passes in front of a star, and the gravity of the object focuses the light of the star to make it appear much brighter for a brief time. One theory for these objects is that they are orphan planets torn away from their stars by the chaotic gravity of the cluster.
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