August 2003 Top Story Archives



Ed Lu's Journal: Entry #8: Future Spaceships »» Ed Lu's Journal: Entry #8: Future Spaceships

[Saturday, August 02, 2003] This week I decided I'd write about some new developments that could change space flight. The first has to do with getting off Earth cheaper. The second has to do with getting from low Earth orbit to destinations like Mars, the moon, and asteroids.

° Full Story


The Search for Life Could Include Planets, Stars Unlike Our Own »» The Search for Life Could Include Planets, Stars Unlike Our Own

[Saturday, August 02, 2003] The search for life on other planets could soon extend to solar systems that are very different from our own, according to a new study by an Ohio State University astronomer and his colleagues.

° Full Story


Portrait of a doomed sea »» Portrait of a doomed sea

[Saturday, August 02, 2003] Earth's youngest desert is shown in this satellite image of the Aral Sea. Once the fourth largest lake in the world, over the last 40 years the Aral Sea has evaporated back to half its original surface area and a quarter its initial volume.

° Full Story


Mars in Opposition: One for the Record Books »» Mars in Opposition: One for the Record Books

[Monday, August 04, 2003] On 27 August, Mars will be at its closest to Earth for almost 60,000 years. On that date, the Red Planet will approach to within 34,646,418 miles (55,758,006 km) -- 145 times the distance of the Moon.

° Full Story


NASA Selects »» NASA Selects "Phoenix" as First Mars Scout Mission

[Monday, August 04, 2003] NASA today selected Phoenix, an innovative and relatively low cost mission, to study the red planet, as the first Mars Scout mission. The Phoenix lander mission is scheduled for launch in 2007.

° Full Story


ESA's SMART-1: The Lunar Adventure Begins »» ESA's SMART-1: The Lunar Adventure Begins

[Tuesday, August 05, 2003] ESA is about to launch its first probe to the Moon. It is called SMART-1 and its goals are both technological and scientific. It is the first of a series of 'Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology'.

° Full Story


Hot spots on Mars give hunt for life new target »» Hot spots on Mars give hunt for life new target

[Tuesday, August 05, 2003] Giant hollow towers of ice formed by steaming volcanic vents on Ross Island, Antarctica are providing clues about where to hunt for life on Mars.

° Full Story


First Shape Measurement of an Exploding White Dwarf »» First Shape Measurement of an Exploding White Dwarf

[Tuesday, August 05, 2003] Scientists have established that the extraordinarily bright and remarkably similar astronomical "standard candles" known as Type Ia supernovae do not explode in a perfectly spherical manner.

° Full Story


Asteroid Juno has a »» Asteroid Juno has a "bite" out of it

[Wednesday, August 06, 2003] By combining modern technology with a historical telescope, astronomers have discovered that the asteroid Juno has a bite out of it. The first direct images of the surface of Juno show that it is scarred by a fresh impact crater.

° Full Story


Our View of Comets Evolves »» Our View of Comets Evolves

[Wednesday, August 06, 2003] The long-held perspective that comets are pristine remnants from the formation of the solar system has evolved from the prevailing views of 30 years ago, finds planetary scientist Dr. S. Alan Stern in a paper published in the journal Nature.

° Full Story


Space Station Module Cooling Failure Forces ISS into »» Space Station Module Cooling Failure Forces ISS into "survival mode" power-down

[Wednesday, August 06, 2003] Early Tuesday morning, during troubleshooting of the Service Module's KOB thermal loops by Mission Control in Moscow, both cooling loops went down. This resulted in a transition into "survival mode" power-down of the ISS.

° Full Story


Asteroids Dedicated to Columbia's Crew »» Asteroids Dedicated to Columbia's Crew

[Wednesday, August 06, 2003] The final crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia was memorialized in the cosmos as seven asteroids orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter were named in their honor today.

° Full Story


NASA Hubble Space Telescope Images Nearby Star Cluster NGC 6397 »» NASA Hubble Space Telescope Images Nearby Star Cluster NGC 6397

[Thursday, August 07, 2003] These stars are jam-packed together. The stellar density is about a million times greater than in our Sun's stellar neighborhood. The stars are only a few light-weeks apart, while the nearest star to our Sun is over four light-years away.

° Full Story


Dwarf galaxy being torn apart by dark matter »» Dwarf galaxy being torn apart by dark matter

[Thursday, August 07, 2003] Astronomers have found direct evidence of a phenomenon long thought to play an important role in the formation of giant galaxies: the ongoing disruption of a small galaxy as it orbits within the dark matter halo of a much larger galaxy.

° Full Story


SpaceShipOne Makes its First Glide Flight »» SpaceShipOne Makes its First Glide Flight

[Friday, August 08, 2003] "The entire flight, from launch to landing, was viewable from the ground and SpaceShipOne with its unique planform was intriguing to watch as it cut gracefully through the air and was put through its paces."

° Full Story


The U.S. Air Force's 'Space Lego Project' »» The U.S. Air Force's 'Space Lego Project'

[Saturday, August 09, 2003] USAF procurement notice: "These "LEGOS", also referred to as "protosats", would be a (hopefully small) family of building blocks, from which any complex structure could be built, in this case the skeletal structures of spacecraft."

° Full Story


New Star Catalog Released »» New Star Catalog Released

[Sunday, August 10, 2003] The United States Naval Observatory has officially released the Second Edition of the USNO CCD Astrograph Catalog (UCAC2), the most astrometrically precise star catalog ever produced by ground-based instrumentation.

° Full Story


Orbits of Asteroids Named after Space Shuttle Columbia Crew »» Orbits of Asteroids Named after Space Shuttle Columbia Crew

[Sunday, August 10, 2003] Seven asteroids discovered in July 2001 at the Palomar Observatory by the JPL Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking Program have been formally named in honor of the members of the crew of Space Shuttle Columbia.

° Full Story


NASA Researchers Find Antarctic Lake Water Will Fizz Like a Soda »» NASA Researchers Find Antarctic Lake Water Will Fizz Like a Soda

[Monday, August 11, 2003] Water released from Lake Vostok, deep beneath the south polar ice sheet, could gush like a popped can of soda if not contained, opening the lake to possible contamination and posing a potential health hazard to NASA and university researchers.

° Full Story


Distance Measurement Solves Astrophysical Mysteries »» Distance Measurement Solves Astrophysical Mysteries

[Monday, August 11, 2003] Location, location, and location. The old real-estate adage about what's really important proved applicable to astrophysics as astronomers used the sharp radio "vision" of the Very Long Baseline Array to pinpoint the distance to a pulsar.

° Full Story


The Space Elevator: 'Thought Experiment', or Key to the Universe? »» The Space Elevator: 'Thought Experiment', or Key to the Universe?

[Tuesday, August 12, 2003] SpaceRef is happy to announce that we have launched a new site called the Space Elevator Reference. To coincide with this occasion we offer you Sir Arthur C. Clarke's seminal paper on the Space Elevator. Enjoy!

° Full Story


26 years since the first flight of NASA's »» 26 years since the first flight of NASA's "Enterprise"

[Wednesday, August 13, 2003] Tuesday, August 12 was the 26th anniversary of the first free flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise.  After nearly two decades, Enterprise now awaits a return to public view as an addition to the National Air and Space Museum nears completion

° Full Story


Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse Grows First Crop on Devon Island »» Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse Grows First Crop on Devon Island

[Wednesday, August 13, 2003] Two weeks after the last humans departed from NASA Haughton Mars Project Base Camp on Devon Island, the Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse continues to operate with lettuce plants growing inside. Its operations are monitored and controlled via satellite.

° Full Story


NASA Panel Considers Three Options for Space Telescope Transition »» NASA Panel Considers Three Options for Space Telescope Transition

[Friday, August 15, 2003] An independent panel of astronomers identified three options for NASA to consider for planning the transition from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) at the start of the next decade.

° Full Story


Microbe from depths takes life to hottest known limit »» Microbe from depths takes life to hottest known limit

[Friday, August 15, 2003] A newly discovered single-celled microbe leads the hottest existence known to science. Its discoverers have preliminarily named the roughly micron-wide speck "Strain 121" for the top temperature at which it survives: 121 degrees C.

° Full Story


Chandra Sees Horseshoe Nebula Hot Gas Flows »» Chandra Sees Horseshoe Nebula Hot Gas Flows

[Friday, August 15, 2003] A new Chandra image reveals hot gas flowing away from massive young stars in the center of the Horseshoe Nebula. A group of massive young stars responsible for the activity in the nebula is located near the center of the image.

° Full Story


Ed Lu's Journal: Entry #9: Day in the Life »» Ed Lu's Journal: Entry #9: Day in the Life

[Sunday, August 17, 2003] This week I thought I'd write about what a typical day is like. To do that I'll just run through what is on our schedule this week, and you can get a pretty good feel for what keeps us busy.

° Full Story


NOAA Posts Images Online of Northeast Blackout »» NOAA Posts Images Online of Northeast Blackout

[Monday, August 18, 2003] NOAA has posted online satellite images taken before and after of the historic blackout of the Northeastern United States and Canada, which plunged millions of people into darkness.

° Full Story


Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse Crops Continue to Thrive on Devon Island »» Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse Crops Continue to Thrive on Devon Island

[Monday, August 18, 2003] The two webcam images shown above demonstrate the rate at which the lettuce crop is growing. Taken just 5 days apart, all plants show a signficant increase in size.

° Full Story


Hubble High Resolution Images of Mars »» Hubble High Resolution Images of Mars

[Monday, August 18, 2003] NASA's Hubble Space Telescope will make observations of the planet Mars on Aug. 26-27, when Earth and Mars will be closer together than they have been in the last 60,000 years.

° Full Story


Powerful Geomagnetic Storm Sent Out By The Sun »» Powerful Geomagnetic Storm Sent Out By The Sun

[Tuesday, August 19, 2003] A strong geomagnetic storm that rated a G4, the second highest rating on the NOAA space weather scales, was reported yesterday at 5 a.m. EDT. These storms are disturbances in the geomagnetic field caused by gusts in the solar wind that blows by Earth.

° Full Story


Space Station Crew Continues Progress Loading »» Space Station Crew Continues Progress Loading

[Wednesday, August 20, 2003] The Expedition 7 crew continued to pack Progress 10 with unneeded items. Progress 10 will be commanded to undock from the aft end of Zvezda on Aug. 27 to make room for the Progress 12 spacecraft. [Includes link to procedures documents]

° Full Story


SIRTF Launch Rescheduled »» SIRTF Launch Rescheduled

[Wednesday, August 20, 2003] The launch of NASA’s Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) has been rescheduled to no earlier than Monday, Aug. 25, at 1:35:39 a.m. EDT.

° Full Story


NASA Seeks Suggestions for Mars Photos »» NASA Seeks Suggestions for Mars Photos

[Wednesday, August 20, 2003] The public has an unprecedented opportunity to suggest places on Mars that should be photographed from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. Spacecraft operators are ready to take suggestions online for new places for images.

° Full Story


Space Tug to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope's Rescue? »» Space Tug to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope's Rescue?

[Wednesday, August 20, 2003] The Hubble Space Telescope is an incredible national asset that must be preserved. Could you imagine the Palomar 200 inch telescope being decommissioned because there is not enough money to operate it and the Keck at the same time?

° Full Story


Flip a Sun's pole for more dust »» Flip a Sun's pole for more dust

[Thursday, August 21, 2003] Astronomers once thought they understood how the Sun worked. A large ball of gas, generating energy by nuclear fusion, it also created a magnetic field enclosing Earth and the other planets in a gigantic magnetic bubble.

° Full Story


El Nino's Pacific Rains Can Affect World Weather »» El Nino's Pacific Rains Can Affect World Weather

[Thursday, August 21, 2003] Scientists using data from a NASA satellite have found another piece in the global climate puzzle created by El Niño. El Niño events produce more of a steady rain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

° Full Story


New findings could dash hopes for past oceans on Mars »» New findings could dash hopes for past oceans on Mars

[Thursday, August 21, 2003] The discovery of water-related carbonate minerals potentially contradicts what scientists had hoped to prove: the past existence of large bodies of liquid water on Mars, such as oceans and seas.

° Full Story


Mars in the Night Sky »» Mars in the Night Sky

[Friday, August 22, 2003] August 27 marks the closest that Mars and Earth have been since nearly 60,000 years ago, when the Neanderthals lived! Mars won't be this close again until 2287.

° Full Story


NASA and NIMA Produce Complete Global Topographic Data Set »» NASA and NIMA Produce Complete Global Topographic Data Set

[Friday, August 22, 2003] Produced by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, the global data set, called "SRTM30," greatly improves maps of Earth's land mass located between 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south of the equator.

° Full Story


Tides Control Flow of Antarctic Ice Streams »» Tides Control Flow of Antarctic Ice Streams

[Friday, August 22, 2003] The moon, through the tides, is responsible for the pattern of motion exhibited by ice streams in the Antarctic, according to a team of geologists from NASA, Penn State and University of Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England.

° Full Story


Space Infrared Telescope Facility  Launched »» Space Infrared Telescope Facility Launched

[Monday, August 25, 2003] SIRTF) was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1:35:39 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (10:35:39 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, August 24) aboard a Delta II launch vehicle.

° Full Story


Close encounters with Mars »» Close encounters with Mars

[Monday, August 25, 2003] On 27 August 2003, Mars is less than 56 million kilometers away -- approaching closer to our planet than it has done in over 60,000 years. About the same time as this closest approach, Mars Express passes the halfway mark of its journey.

° Full Story


Columbia Accident Report Released »» Columbia Accident Report Released

[Tuesday, August 26, 2003] The Columbia Accident Investigation Board has released its report today. A press conference will be held at 11:00 AM EDT to discuss the report. SpaceRef has the report and you can follow the link to download it and links to the news conference.

° Full Story


Columbia Accident Investigation Board Statement »» Columbia Accident Investigation Board Statement

[Tuesday, August 26, 2003] The Columbia Accident Investigation Board has released the following statement as part of their report on the Space Shuttle Columbia was disaster.

° Full Story


Columbia Accident Investigation Board Executive Summary »» Columbia Accident Investigation Board Executive Summary

[Tuesday, August 26, 2003] The Columbia Accident Investigation Board has released the following Executive Summary as part of their report on the Space Shuttle Columbia was disaster.

° Full Story


Congressional Testimony of John S. Lewis: Lunar Science & Resources: Future Options »» Congressional Testimony of John S. Lewis: Lunar Science & Resources: Future Options

[Tuesday, August 26, 2003] NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe received the report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board this morning. The following is a statement from the NASA Administrator on the CAIB report.

° Full Story


Congressional Testimony of Daniel F. Lester: Lunar Science & Resources: Future Options »» Congressional Testimony of Daniel F. Lester: Lunar Science & Resources: Future Options

[Tuesday, August 26, 2003] "Today the Columbia Accident Investigation Board released its report on the tragic accident that claimed the lives of seven brave astronauts. These men and women assumed great risk in service to all humanity."

° Full Story


Understanding Columbia - and Fixing NASA »» Understanding Columbia - and Fixing NASA

[Tuesday, August 26, 2003] Seven months after her crew perished over Texas, the final report chronicling Columbia's demise has been released. This is not your every day accident report, for it reaches into the very soul of NASA. NASA will not be able to ignore this report.

° Full Story


Hubble's Close Encounter with Mars »» Hubble's Close Encounter with Mars

[Wednesday, August 27, 2003] NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took this close-up of the red planet Mars when it was just 34,648,840 miles (55,760,220 km) away. The picture was taken just 11 hours before the planet made its closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years.

° Full Story


Mars seen at its closest in 60,000 years »» Mars seen at its closest in 60,000 years

[Wednesday, August 27, 2003] This image was made from a series of exposures taken between 5:35 a.m. and 6:20 a.m. EDT Aug. 27 with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. In this picture, the red planet is 34,647,420 miles (55,757,930 km) from Earth.

° Full Story


How to drop in on Titan »» How to drop in on Titan

[Thursday, August 28, 2003] You need to have thought of almost every eventuality when landing on a distant moon in a remote corner of the Solar System. You must have tested your spacecraft to its limits to be sure it will withstand the extreme conditions expected on Titan.

° Full Story


Progress-10 Departs ISS; Progress-12 Ready for Launch »» Progress-10 Departs ISS; Progress-12 Ready for Launch

[Thursday, August 28, 2003] An unmanned Russian Progress vehicle successfully undocked from the International Space Station today, heading for a plunge into the Earth's atmosphere with discarded items from the orbital complex.

° Full Story


Progress M-48 Launched to ISS »» Progress M-48 Launched to ISS

[Thursday, August 28, 2003] Progress M-48 transport cargo was launched at 05:47:59 Moscow Summer time. This spacecraft will dock with the ISS at 0345 GMT on 31 August.

° Full Story


»» "Not Culture but Perhaps a Cult", Op Ed by Homer Hickam

[Friday, August 29, 2003] "I do not believe there is a NASA culture other than a willingness by its engineers to work their butts off to keep us in space. It might be said, however, that there is a Shuttle cult."

° Full Story


Ed Lu's Journal: Entry #10: Taking Pictures »» Ed Lu's Journal: Entry #10: Taking Pictures

[Saturday, August 30, 2003] To document what we do onboard, as well as to take photos of the Earth, we have some very nice camera equipment here. As the weeks go by I'm finding that I am managing to take better and better photos and video.

° Full Story


Progress 12 Docks With International Space Station »» Progress 12 Docks With International Space Station

[Saturday, August 30, 2003] Progress 12 docked with the Iinternational Space Station at the Zvezda aft port on Saturday at 11:40 PM EDT.

° Full Story