Space News for July 1, 1999

Images of Mars Captured by Hubble

Thanks to Mars’ closest approach to the Earth in over 8 years, the Hubble Space Telescope was able to take a set of detailed images of the Red Planet. Hubble captured the images when Mars was only 87 million km away, and was able to resolve details on the surface on 12 km across.

Astronomy Now
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explorezone.com

Planets Without Stars Could Still Contain Life

Planetary scientist David Stevenson believes that Earth-sized planets ejected from early solar systems could still contain life, huddled around volcanic vents similar to our own oceans. Unfortunately, these planets would be almost impossible to detect.

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Houston Chronicle

Rock Crystal Could Have Been Oldest Telescope

Professor Giovanni Pettinato of the University of Rome believes that a rock crystal called the Nimrud lens found in 1850 by archaeologist Sir John Layard could have been used for an ancient telescope. The ancient Assyrians astronomers were renowned for their understanding of the skies, and this lens could have contributed to their knowledge.

BBC News

China Closes in on Manned Space Flight

China is continuing its ambitious plans to put two men into space by the end of the year 2000. This is just the first part of their overall manned space program, which will launch an independent space station and achieve a lunar landing early in the next millenium.

CNN Space

Space News for June 30, 1999

Galileo Begins Encounter with Callisto

Galileo is about to begin the tenth encounter of its Europa Mission – a close flyby of Callisto, one of Jupiter’s largest moons. Over the course of the next 4 1/2 days, the spacecraft will fly within 1047 kilometers of the moon’s surface.

Astronomy Now

Cosmonaut Proposes Shares of Mir

Prominent cosmonaut Vitaly Sevastyanov has proposed a new way to save Mir – by selling shares in the space station to other countries or foreign investors. Outside investors could use the station to send astronauts or research missions.

CNN Space

X-34 Model Test Successful

A 58 foot model of the futuristic X-34 rocket-plane was tested Tuesday above NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California. The flight was used as a demonstration of many of the technologies that will be used in future reusable launch vehicles.

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exoScience
SpaceViews

NASA Cancels Champollion

Champollion ST4 was designed to land on the surface of a comet and study its composition, but now it appears the project won’t be going anywhere. Recent project overruns, and emergency repairs to Hubble have forced NASA to cut the mission from its plans. The probe would have launched in 2003, and landed in 2005.

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Houston Chronicle

Space Online
SpaceViews

Space News for June 29, 1999

Chandra Loaded Onto Columbia

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory was loaded onto the Space Shuttle Columbia on Sunday, in preparation for its July 20th launch. Costing over $2.5 billion, NASA will be watching the launch carefully, as the observatory uses the same upper stage booster that caused at least one Air Force launch failure.

Astronomy Now

NASA Prepares Nanorover for Asteroid Mission

Similar to the Mars Pathfinder rover, but only the size of a paperback novel, the MUSES rover is designed for an upcoming Japanese asteroid encounter mission. The rover will hop around in the asteroid’s weak gravity, automatically righting itself if it falls upside down.

CNN Space

Possible Planet is Probably Just a Star

When it was first discovered last year, astronomers thought they might have their first visual glimpse of a planet orbiting another star system. Further data indicates, however, that the object, called TMR-1C is probably just another, dimmer star.

SpaceDaily

SpaceViews

Scientists Search for Clues in Tunguska

Something struck central Siberia in 1908 with the force of 1,000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs. It leveled 2,200 square kilometers of forest, and the explosion was visible hundreds of kilometers away. There are still many mysteries about what actually happened there almost 100 years ago, and a group of scientists are now attempting to unlock its secrets.

BBC News

Space News for June 28, 1999

Gemini Continues to Impress

The Gemini North telescope has lived up to the high expectations of its builders. New images unveiled at a recent ceremony in Hawaii displayed the telescope’s amazing resolution power. Gemini South is currently being constructed in Chile.

Astronomy Now
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Next Mars Landers May Walk Instead of Roll

Although it was able to provide useful new data, the Mars Pathfinder Rover was restricted by the fact that it had wheels. A prototype “walking” robot has been built at the University of Arizona, which will be able to move across very difficult terrain – they’re being considered for future Mars missions.

BBC News

Cassini Gravity Boosted by Venus

Cassini has made its second successful flyby of Venus, and in doing so, picked up the speed it needs to make the next leg of its journey to Saturn. Cassini flew within 600 km of the planet, and is now speeding towards its next encounters: Earth in two months, and then Jupiter in late 2000.

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explorezone.com
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Mir May be Saved by a Movie

Film director Yuri Kara has come up with a unique plan to help save the doomed Mir spacestation – he plans to shoot a movie on board, called The Mark of Cassandra. Russian actor Vladimir Steklov has already started his cosmonaut training.

Fox News
MSNBC

Space News for June 25, 1999

First Female Mission Commander Prepares for Launch

Air Force Col. Eileen Collins will be the first woman to command a space mission when the Space Shuttle Columbia launches on June 20th. Eileen’s mission will be to safely launch the much-delayed Chandra X-Ray observatory.

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FUSE Launch Successful

NASA’s Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) was successfully launched into orbit on board a Delta II rocket. The rocket launched approximately 11:44 a.m. and the satellite was deployed from the rocket approximately 76 minutes later. FUSE will help unlock the secrets of the Big Bang.

Astronomy Now
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Space Daily

Space Tourism Could be Around the Corner

If you’ve been hoping to travel in space, you might get your chance sooner than you think. A recent study released by NASA and the private Space Transportation Association reports that one-third of American adults would like to spend two weeks in space, and would pay $5,000. Plans for space hotels are in the works.

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Roton Ground Test Successful

Rotary Rocket Company has announced he first successful ground test of its Roton Atmospheric Test Vehicle (ATV), and preparations for its first flight test in the near future.

SpaceViews

Space News for June 24, 1999

Cassini Gets a Boost From Venus

Although it’s bound for Saturn, Cassini will pass within 1,600 kilometers of Venus’ surface today to receive a powerful gravity boost of its velocity. After this, it will perform a close pass of Earth, skimming the planet only 800 kilometers. The spacecraft’s nuclear powerplant has activists concerned.

Astronomy Now

FUSE to Launch

With the final preparations complete, NASA’s Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) is ready for its launch on board a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral. FUSE will search for the “fossil records” of the Big Bang and uncover secrets about the origin of the universe.

Astronomy Now
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Space Online
SpaceDaily

Scientists to Study Far Side of the Sun

The European Space Agency announced that it will be using its SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) spacecraft to monitor the far side of the sun. Although the spacecraft doesn’t view the far side directly, it can detect strong ultraviolet emissions from active regions of the sun, and provide warnings for increased solar activity.

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explorezone.com
MSNBC

[email protected] Surpasses All Expectations

Only a month old, the [email protected] software has signed up 660,000 volunteers. Together they’ve contributed over 15,000 years of computing time to the project, making this the largest distributed computing experiment in history.

Fox News

Space News for June 23, 1999

Surveyor Landing Spot to Be Selected

A group of planetary geologists are meeting at a conference in Buffalo to determine suitable landing locations for the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, which will test technologies designed to support human life.

explorezone.com

Hubble’s Damage Worsening

The Hubble Space Telescope is on its last legs, with only three functioning gyros (down from six), which it requires to change its direction. Although it can still operate with only three, NASA believes there’s a 50% chance any one of the remaining gyros will fail this year. A shuttle repair mission is planned for later this year.

SpaceDaily

Leonids May Put on a Show

Experts believe that this year’s Leonid meteor shower may be one of the most spectacular. Scheduled to reach their peak around November 17th, the Leonids are caused when the Earth passes through the tail of comet Tempel-Tuttle. It’s may be possible that the shower will reach a full-fledged storm, with thousands of meteors visible per hour.

Space Science News

Space News for June 22, 1999

QuikScat Successfully Deploys

NASA’s QuikScat weather satellite has successful reached its initial elliptical orbit of 800km above the Earth’s surface, and deployed its solar panels. The satellite will fire its thrusters another 25 times to perfect its final orbit, and begin its mission a month from now.

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Cosmonaut Spends Longest Time in Space

Russian cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev has spent more time in space than anyone else – currently 681 days over 6 missions. With Mir due to be destroyed later this year, it’s unlikely his record will be broken any time soon.

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Palomar Observatory Searches for Asteroids

A 1.2 meter Oschin telescope at Palomar Observatory is being upgraded to help the search for near-Earth asteroids. The upgrade will cost $500,000 and will involve the installation of an electronic camera capable of detecting asteroids.

SpaceViews

Space News for June 21, 1999

FUSE Readied for Launch

Next week will finally bring the launch of NASA’s Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) spacecraft on a Boeing Delta II rocket. FUSE will search the universe for hydrogen and deuterium, and hopefully answer a few questions about the Big Bang.

BBC News

Oldest Known Galaxy Found

Thanks to the 400-inch Keck Observatory in Hawaii, astronomers have found the farthest known galaxy – over 11 billion light years away, and thought to contain an enormous black hole. It’s expected that even further objects will be discovered by the newly completed, and more powerful, Gemini telescopes.

CNN Space

QuikScat Weather Satellite Launched

Launched from Vandenberg Air Force base on a Titan II rocket, NASA’s QuikScat weather satellite is on its way to a final altitude of 800 kilometers above the Earth. The purpose of the satellite is to map ocean wind speed and direction.

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Budget Cuts Could Affect Future NASA Missions

NASA’s 2000 budget could be cut by up to $1 billion, potentially putting two missions in jeopardy. Space Technology 4 (ST4) “Champollion” and the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander would be abandoned if the proposed budget cuts are approved by the House of Congress.

SpaceViews

Space News for June 18, 1999

Space Station Nearly Struck By Debris

NASA controllers attempted to fire the International Space Station’s rockets to move it out of the way of a piece of Russian space junk which was going to pass too close for comfort. Unfortunately, the computer program designed to execute the maneuver crashed the ISS for 90 minutes. Fortunately the debris missed the station by a safe margin.

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Mir Will Have One Last Crew

Although they’re still planning for Mir’s fiery destruction later this year, Russian space officials have announced they’ll be sending one final crew to the doomed station. It’s still unknown how the Russians will be able to guide Mir’s 100 tonnes safely back to Earth and crash into an uninhabited area.

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SpaceViews

Hubble Completes Image of Spiral Galaxy

Hubble finished what it started over four years ago, when it completed imaging of spiral galaxy NGC 4414. The image was obtained by Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera through three different colour filters.

CNN Space

Gemini Demonstrates its Power on Pluto

The new Gemini telescope in Hawaii’s first target was the planet Pluto, which it resolved with a level of quality equal to the Hubble Space Telescope. This telescope, with its Chilean twin has 10 times the resolution power of any telescope on Earth.

BBC News