Space News for June 8, 1999

Moon Has a Sodium Tail

Astronomers have discovered a sodium-gas “tail” that stretches away from the moon for at least half a million miles. Unsure exactly what’s causing this tail, astronomers theorize that it might be caused micrometeorites striking the moon, with the sodium pulled into the tail by the Earth’s gravity.

BBC News
CNN Space

Computer Programmed to Detect Alien Life

NASA is developing a computer program which they believe will assist the search for extraterrestrial life. Designed to recognize every variant of microbial life on Earth, the program would be incorporated into future missions to Mars, such as a rover that searches for life by cracking open rocks.

Fox News

Recent Solar Ejection Worried Astronomers

For a few hours last Tuesday, astronomers didn’t know if a massive coronal ejection, containing superheated plasma, would strike the Earth. After first witnessing the ejection, astronomers used the Internet to compare current images of the sun from around the world and decided that a worldwide alert wasn’t necessary.

BBC News

WIRE Failure Caused by Power Glitch

An investigation into the failure of the Wide-Field Infrared Explorer (WIRE) satellite has concluded that a surge in a circuit led to the failure of the satellite. When the satellite was turned on, the surge caused it to prematurely blow the bolts on a sunscreen which protected a hydrogen tank. The unprotected hydrogen sublimated, spinning the satellite out of control.