December 2004 Top Story Archives



Udaipur Declaration from the Sixth International Conference on the Exploration and Utilization of the Moon »» Udaipur Declaration from the Sixth International Conference on the Exploration and Utilization of the Moon

[Wednesday, December 01, 2004] The Sixth International Lunar Conference was held November 22-26 in Udaipur, India hosted by PRL and ISRO, and cosponsored by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG) and ESA.

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Explosions in Majestic Spiral Beauties »» Explosions in Majestic Spiral Beauties

[Wednesday, December 01, 2004] Images of beautiful galaxies, and in particular of spiral brethren of our own Milky Way, leave no-one unmoved. It is difficult indeed to resist the charm of these impressive grand structures.

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Astronomers Uncover a Baby Galaxy in a Grown-Up Universe »» Astronomers Uncover a Baby Galaxy in a Grown-Up Universe

[Wednesday, December 01, 2004] Scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have measured the age of what may be the youngest galaxy ever seen in the universe. By cosmological standards it is a mere toddler seemingly out of place among the grown-up galaxies around it.

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Extrasolar Planets: Alien Treasures in Our Backyard »» Extrasolar Planets: Alien Treasures in Our Backyard

[Wednesday, December 01, 2004] Astronomers have just gained an important clue to guide their hunt for extrasolar worlds. And that clue points to the unlikeliest of places - our own backyard.

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Close Encounter May Explain Some Objects Beyond Neptune »» Close Encounter May Explain Some Objects Beyond Neptune

[Wednesday, December 01, 2004] Computer simulations show a close encounter with a passing star about 4 billion years ago may have given our solar system its abrupt edge and put small, alien worlds into distant orbits around our sun.

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Antarctic AST/RO discovers starbursts in Milky Way »» Antarctic AST/RO discovers starbursts in Milky Way

[Wednesday, December 01, 2004] Results obtained using the 1.7 meter-diameter Antarctic Submillimeter Telescope and Remote Observatory, or AST/RO, at South Pole Station revealed that over 20 million years most galaxies probably experience sudden starforming periods, or starbursts.

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Reports Detail NASA Rover Discoveries of Wet Martian History »» Reports Detail NASA Rover Discoveries of Wet Martian History

[Thursday, December 02, 2004] The most dramatic findings so far from NASA's twin Mars rovers -- telltale evidence for a wet and possibly habitable environment in the arid planet's past -- passed rigorous scientific scrutiny for publication in a major research journal.

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Conditions on vast plain on Mars could have been suitable for life »» Conditions on vast plain on Mars could have been suitable for life

[Friday, December 03, 2004] Although present conditions on Mars would seem to be inhospitable to life, the data sent back by NASA's two exploration rovers showed a world that might once have been warmer and wetter.

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Thieving Moon - Prometheus and F Ring Interactions »» Thieving Moon - Prometheus and F Ring Interactions

[Friday, December 03, 2004] As it completed its first orbit of Saturn, Cassini zoomed in on the rings to catch this wondrous view of the shepherd moon Prometheus (102 kilometers, or 63 miles across) working its influence on the multi-stranded and kinked F ring.

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Intelsat Regains Control of the Intelsat Americas 7 Satellite »» Intelsat Regains Control of the Intelsat Americas 7 Satellite

[Saturday, December 04, 2004] As a result of an intensive recovery effort by the Intelsat technical team, contact and control of the satellite has been regained. Service restoration is underway, with several key customers expected to be operational on IA-7 by the end of the day.

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When Earth turned bad: New evidence supports terrestrial cause of end-Permian mass extinction »» When Earth turned bad: New evidence supports terrestrial cause of end-Permian mass extinction

[Saturday, December 04, 2004] 250 million years ago, 90% of marine species disappeared during the world's largest mass extinction. A new study published in the journal "Geology" provides indications that the extinction cause did not come from the heavens but from Earth itself.

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Report shows movement of glacier has doubled speed »» Report shows movement of glacier has doubled speed

[Saturday, December 04, 2004] The world's fastest glacier, Greenland's Jakobshavn Isbrae, doubled its speed between 1997 and 2003. The rapid movement of ice from land into the sea provides evidence of newly discovered relationships between ice, sea level rise and climate warming.

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ESA astronaut goes underwater to test European Robotic Arm »» ESA astronaut goes underwater to test European Robotic Arm

[Saturday, December 04, 2004] The WET model of the European Robotic Arm (ERA) was comprehensively inspected and tested at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow last week. ESA astronaut Andr» Kuipers donned a Russian Orlan spacesuit for the occasion.

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NAS Report on Hubble Servicing Options to be Released »» NAS Report on Hubble Servicing Options to be Released

[Monday, December 06, 2004] A new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies' National Research Council, assesses the viability of proposed shuttle or robotic missions to upgrade the telescope.† The report will be released at a one-hour news conference.†

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A Resolved Debris Disk around the G2V star HD 107146 »» A Resolved Debris Disk around the G2V star HD 107146

[Monday, December 06, 2004] "We present resolved scattered-light images of the debris disk around HD 107146, a G2 star 28.5 pc from the Sun. This is the first debris disk to be resolved in scattered light around a solar-type star."

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Ultra-Sharp Mars-Bound Camera Delivered »» Ultra-Sharp Mars-Bound Camera Delivered

[Monday, December 06, 2004] The camera that will take thousands of the sharpest, most detailed pictures of Mars ever produced from an orbiting spacecraft was delivered today for installation on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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Second space Christmas for ESA: Huygens to begin its final journey to Titan »» Second space Christmas for ESA: Huygens to begin its final journey to Titan

[Tuesday, December 07, 2004] One year after Mars Express' arrival at Mars, the mighty rules of celestial mechanics have again set Christmas as the date for a major ESA event in deep space.

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NASA Space Pioneer John Young, Astronaut Without Equal, Retires »» NASA Space Pioneer John Young, Astronaut Without Equal, Retires

[Tuesday, December 07, 2004] Space pioneer John W. Young, a man who flew twice to the moon, walked on its surface and commanded the first Space Shuttle mission, is retiring.

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Pitt research shows NASA sleep-wake scheduling guide may need to be changed »» Pitt research shows NASA sleep-wake scheduling guide may need to be changed

[Tuesday, December 07, 2004] New research from the University of Pittsburgh shows the human body has difficulty adjusting to dramatic time changes such as those experienced by working shifts or traveling across time zones.

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Space Shuttle Should Conduct Final Servicing Mission To Hubble Space Telescope »» Space Shuttle Should Conduct Final Servicing Mission To Hubble Space Telescope

[Wednesday, December 08, 2004] To ensure continuation of the extraordinary scientific output of the Hubble Space Telescope and to prepare for its eventual de-orbiting, NASA should send a space shuttle mission, not a robotic one, says a new congressionally requested report from the Nati

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Surveying Burns Cliff »» Surveying Burns Cliff

[Wednesday, December 08, 2004] Opportunity has completed its super-high-resolution imaging and other remote sensing operations from the base of "Burns Cliff," collecting more than 985 megabits of telemetry.

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NASA Mars Rover Spirit's Amazing Trek Continues »» NASA Mars Rover Spirit's Amazing Trek Continues

[Wednesday, December 08, 2004] This view from where NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit stood on the rover's 149th martian day shows terrain the rover has crossed since then. The yellow line traces the path Spirit has taken since arriving at the "Columbia Hills."

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Crew Exploration Vehicle Request for Proposal Statement of Work »» Crew Exploration Vehicle Request for Proposal Statement of Work

[Thursday, December 09, 2004] The draft Statement of Work for the Crew Exploration Vehicle system summarizes the work required for the first phase of the CEV acquisition.

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Spitzer and Hubble Telescopes Capture Evolving Planetary Systems »» Spitzer and Hubble Telescopes Capture Evolving Planetary Systems

[Thursday, December 09, 2004] Two of NASA's Great Observatories, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope, have provided astronomers an unprecedented look at dusty planetary debris around stars the size of our sun.

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Commercial Space Bill Wins Final Approval form Congress »» Commercial Space Bill Wins Final Approval form Congress

[Thursday, December 09, 2004] In its last action before adjourning, the Senate last night gave final approval to the†House Science Committee's Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 (H.R. 5382),†sending the bill to†the President, who is expected†to†sign it.

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Caught in the Cobweb: Turbulent and Colourful LMC Region Imaged from La Silla »» Caught in the Cobweb: Turbulent and Colourful LMC Region Imaged from La Silla

[Friday, December 10, 2004] In this complex of glowing gas and very hot and luminous stars, the gas is mainly composed of protons and electrons, which are kept apart by energetic photons emitted by the stars in this area.

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Space Shuttle Milestone: NASA Installs Main Engines on Discovery »» Space Shuttle Milestone: NASA Installs Main Engines on Discovery

[Friday, December 10, 2004] NASA completed installation this week of the three main engines that will help launch Space Shuttle Discovery on its Return to Flight mission. Installation was completed Dec. 8 at the Orbiter Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.

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Administrator Sean O'Keefe to Depart NASA »» Administrator Sean O'Keefe to Depart NASA

[Saturday, December 11, 2004] The White House will release O'Keefe's formal letter of resignation as early as Monday but no later than Tuesday. According to NASA sources, O'Keefe will give an all hands speech to the agency on Friday.

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Dione Image: Crisscrossing Streaks »» Dione Image: Crisscrossing Streaks

[Saturday, December 11, 2004] A gorgeous Dione poses for Cassini, with shadowed craters and bright, wispy streaks first observed by the Voyager spacecraft 24 years ago. The wispy areas will be imaged at higher resolution in mid-December 2004.

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NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe Resigns »» NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe Resigns

[Monday, December 13, 2004] Administrator Sean O'Keefe, who over the past three years led NASA through an aggressive and comprehensive management transformation and helped the agency through one of its most painful tragedies, resigned today.

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First Mirror Ordered for Giant Magellan Telescope »» First Mirror Ordered for Giant Magellan Telescope

[Monday, December 13, 2004] The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has taken a key step toward the goal of building and operating a large next-generation telescope through its participation in the joint Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).

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NASA's Mars Rovers Spot Water-Clue Mineral, Frost, Clouds »» NASA's Mars Rovers Spot Water-Clue Mineral, Frost, Clouds

[Monday, December 13, 2004] Scientists have identified a water-signature mineral called goethite in bedrock that the NASA's Mars rover Spirit examined in the "Columbia Hills," one of the mission's surest indicators yet for a wet history on Spirit's side of Mars.

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NASA Selects Investigations for the Mars Science Laboratory »» NASA Selects Investigations for the Mars Science Laboratory

[Tuesday, December 14, 2004] NASA has selected eight proposals to provide instrumentation and associated science investigations for the mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, scheduled for launch in 2009.

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Pulsar Gives Insight on Ultra Dense Matter and Magnetic Fields »» Pulsar Gives Insight on Ultra Dense Matter and Magnetic Fields

[Tuesday, December 14, 2004] A long look at a young pulsar with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed unexpectedly rapid cooling, which suggests that it contains much denser matter than previously expected.

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NASA's AURA Satellite Sheds New Light on Air Quality and Ozone Hole »» NASA's AURA Satellite Sheds New Light on Air Quality and Ozone Hole

[Tuesday, December 14, 2004] NASA scientists announced the agency's Aura spacecraft is providing the first daily, direct global measurements of low-level ozone and many other pollutants affecting air quality.

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Virtual Solar Observatory now available for »» Virtual Solar Observatory now available for "one-stop data shopping"

[Tuesday, December 14, 2004] The first working version of a "one-stop shopping" service for solar data is now on line, giving scientists a much easier way to search for data on specific solar phenomena and even to confirm the results of earlier research.

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NASA Set To Launch First Comet Impact Probe »» NASA Set To Launch First Comet Impact Probe

[Tuesday, December 14, 2004] Launch and flight teams are in final preparations for the planned Jan. 12, 2005, liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., of NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft.

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Trekking Toward 'Husband Hill' »» Trekking Toward 'Husband Hill'

[Tuesday, December 14, 2004] Spirit drove five of the last seven days, continuing its trek towards the top of "Husband Hill." Spirit's intermediate goal is a ridge dubbed "Larry's Lookout," which is roughly 75 meters (246 feet) away.

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Cassini Mission Status Report »» Cassini Mission Status Report

[Tuesday, December 14, 2004] The Cassini spacecraft completed a successful rendezvous with Saturn's moon Titan on Monday, Dec. 13.† This was the last pass before the European Space Agency's Huygens probe is sprung loose from Cassini on Christmas Eve (in U.S. time zones).

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NASA Cassini Image: Surface of Dione »» NASA Cassini Image: Surface of Dione

[Wednesday, December 15, 2004] This image was taken on December 15, 2004 and received on Earth December 15, 2004. The camera was pointing toward DIONE at approximately 81,422 kilometers away

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Earth's Safe Zone Became Hot During Legendary Solar Storms »» Earth's Safe Zone Became Hot During Legendary Solar Storms

[Wednesday, December 15, 2004] Observations have revealed that the Van Allen Radiation Belt Slot, often considered a safe zone, filled with concentrated radiation during the ferocious solar storms of October and November 2003.

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Missile Defense Flight Test Fails »» Missile Defense Flight Test Fails

[Wednesday, December 15, 2004] The Missile Defense Agency announced today it was unable to complete a planned flight test after the interceptor missile experienced an anomaly shortly before it was to be launched from the Marshall Islands, in the central Pacific Ocean.

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US and Russia Sign GPS/GLONASS Agreement »» US and Russia Sign GPS/GLONASS Agreement

[Wednesday, December 15, 2004] Delegations of the United States and the Russian Federation met in Washington D.C. on December 9-10, 2004, to continue discussions on matters relating to GPS and GLONASS cooperation.

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NASA Scientists Discuss Giant Atmospheric Brown Cloud »» NASA Scientists Discuss Giant Atmospheric Brown Cloud

[Wednesday, December 15, 2004] NASA scientists announced a giant, smoggy atmospheric brown cloud, which forms over South Asia and the Indian Ocean, has intercontinental reach.

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Dione and Saturn »» Dione and Saturn

[Wednesday, December 15, 2004] This image was taken on December 14, 2004 and received on Earth December 15, 2004. The camera was pointing toward Saturn at approximately 542,867 kilometers away.

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Symphony of colours in the Tarantula »» Symphony of colours in the Tarantula

[Wednesday, December 15, 2004] The Tarantula Nebula, also known as 30 Doradus, is situated 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) in the Southern sky and is clearly visible to the naked eye as a large milky patch.

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NASA Study Finds Tiny Particles in Air May Influence Carbon Sinks »» NASA Study Finds Tiny Particles in Air May Influence Carbon Sinks

[Thursday, December 16, 2004] A NASA-funded study provides direct measurements confirming aerosols, tiny particles in the atmosphere, may be changing how much carbon plants and ecosystems absorb from or release to the air.

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New Clouds Add to Titan's Mystery »» New Clouds Add to Titan's Mystery

[Thursday, December 16, 2004] Using adaptive optics on the Gemini North and Keck II telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i, a U.S. team has discovered a new phenomenon in the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon Titan.

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Saturn System driven by ice »» Saturn System driven by ice

[Thursday, December 16, 2004] Ice particles are key players in the ever-changing panorama at Saturn, according to a new study led by a University of Colorado at Boulder professor using an instrument on the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft now at the ringed planet.

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Dione and Saturn »» Dione and Saturn

[Thursday, December 16, 2004] Cassini captured Dione against the globe of Saturn as it approached the icy moon for its close rendezvous on Dec. 14, 2004. This natural color view shows the moon has strong variations in brightness across its surface.

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Spying Titan's Weather »» Spying Titan's Weather

[Thursday, December 16, 2004] Evidence of changing weather patterns in the skies over Titan's southern region are revealed in these false color images obtained by the Cassini's visual infrared mapping spectrometer over two recent flybys of this largest of Saturn's satellites.

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A new twist on an old nebula »» A new twist on an old nebula

[Thursday, December 16, 2004] One of the nearest and brightest planetary nebulae has a surprisingly complex 3-D structure

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Science Magazine names Cornell-led Mars rover mission science program as Breakthrough of the Year »» Science Magazine names Cornell-led Mars rover mission science program as Breakthrough of the Year

[Thursday, December 16, 2004] The Mars discoveries by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which bounced down on opposite sides of the planet last January, lead nine other research advances that make up Science's list of the top 10 scientific developments of 2004.

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Transcript of Press Briefing with NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe »» Transcript of Press Briefing with NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe

[Friday, December 17, 2004] Adminstrator Sean O'Keefe met with the media at NASA Headquarters today to discuss the state of the agency and his impending departure to become Chancellor of Louisiana State University.

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Saturn's outer rings could be disappearing »» Saturn's outer rings could be disappearing

[Saturday, December 18, 2004] A massive eruption of atomic oxygen from Saturn's outer rings may be an indication that the planet's wispy E ring is eroding so fast that it could disappear within 100 million years if not replenished.

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Web site Commemorates First Flyer to Reach South Pole »» Web site Commemorates First Flyer to Reach South Pole

[Saturday, December 18, 2004] 75 years ago, Byrd paved the way by flying an early tri-motor aircraft into unknown territory. Americans followed the news of his flight with the same intensity felt by their children a generation later as they followed the first moon landing.

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Research team discovers first evidence of microbes living in a rock glacier »» Research team discovers first evidence of microbes living in a rock glacier

[Saturday, December 18, 2004] Scientists have discovered evidence of microbial activity in a rock glacier high above tree line in the Rocky Mountains, a barren environment previously thought to be devoid of life.

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U.S. Space-based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Policy Fact Sheet »» U.S. Space-based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Policy Fact Sheet

[Saturday, December 18, 2004] The President has authorized a new national policy for space-based positioning, navigation, and timing programs, augmentations, and activities for U.S. national and homeland security, civil, scientific, and commercial purposes.

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Scientific Balloon Circles South Pole on Search for Antimatter »» Scientific Balloon Circles South Pole on Search for Antimatter

[Saturday, December 18, 2004] An international team of scientists has launched a high-altitude, balloon-borne instrument from Antarctica to search for antimatter, which is among the rarest and most elusive types of particles in the Universe.

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GAO Report: Space Shuttle - Costs for Hubble Servicing Mission and Implementation of Safety Recommendations Not Yet Definitive »» GAO Report: Space Shuttle - Costs for Hubble Servicing Mission and Implementation of Safety Recommendations Not Yet Definitive

[Saturday, December 18, 2004] "Although a shuttle servicing mission is one of the options for servicing the Hubble Space Telescope, to date, NASA does not have a definitive estimate of the potential cost."

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Progress M-51 Spacecraft Prepared for Launch »» Progress M-51 Spacecraft Prepared for Launch

[Monday, December 20, 2004] The orbital module of the Soyuz-U launch vehicle, which contains the Progress M-51 spacecraft, has been transported from the spacecraft processing facility at Baikonur Cosmodrome for integration with its launch vehicle.

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ESA's Exploration Programme »» ESA's Exploration Programme "Aurora" gets further boost

[Monday, December 20, 2004] The countries participating in the Preparatory European Space Exploration Programme "Aurora" have recently confirmed and increased their contributions.

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Boeing Delta IV Heavy Achieves Major Test Objectives in First Flight »» Boeing Delta IV Heavy Achieves Major Test Objectives in First Flight

[Wednesday, December 22, 2004] The Boeing Delta IV Heavy made its first flight today achieving the major test objectives despite placing its demonstration satellite in a lower than expected orbit.

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NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Approaches Location of Crashed Heatshield »» NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Approaches Location of Crashed Heatshield

[Wednesday, December 22, 2004] Having emerged from Endurance crater, Opportunity is now approaching the location where its heatshield crashed almost a year ago.

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Progress M-51/Soyuz-U Launch Vehicle moved to Launch Site »» Progress M-51/Soyuz-U Launch Vehicle moved to Launch Site

[Wednesday, December 22, 2004] The Progress M-51 spacecraft and its Soyuz-U launch vehicle have been moved to their launch site at Baikonur Cosmodrome. Launch is scheduled for 23 December 2004.

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Evidence for sun-climate reported by UMaine scientists »» Evidence for sun-climate reported by UMaine scientists

[Wednesday, December 22, 2004] A team led by University of Maine scientists describe evidence from ice cores pointing to an association between the waxing and waning of zonal wind strength around Antarctica and a chemical signal of changes in the sun's output.

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NASA Selects Investigations for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter »» NASA Selects Investigations for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

[Wednesday, December 22, 2004] NASA has selected six proposals to provide instrumentation and associated exploration/science measurement investigations for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), the first spacecraft to be built as part of the Vision for Space Exploration.

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Radio Telescopes Will Add to Cassini-Huygens Discoveries »» Radio Telescopes Will Add to Cassini-Huygens Discoveries

[Wednesday, December 22, 2004] When Huygens makes its plunge into the atmosphere of Titan radio telescopes of the NRAO will help extract the maximum possible amount of information from an experiment unique in human history.

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Russian Progress Spacecraft Launched on Resupply Mission to the ISS »» Russian Progress Spacecraft Launched on Resupply Mission to the ISS

[Thursday, December 23, 2004] A much needed resupply mission to the International Space Station was successfully launched today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Russian spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the space station Saturday at 6:31 p.m. EST.

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Near-Earth Asteroid 2004 MN4 Reaches Highest Score To Date On Hazard Scale »» Near-Earth Asteroid 2004 MN4 Reaches Highest Score To Date On Hazard Scale

[Friday, December 24, 2004] A recently rediscovered 400-meter Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) is predicted to pass near the Earth on 13 April 2029. The flyby distance is uncertain and an Earth impact cannot yet be ruled out.

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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 24 December 2004 »» NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 24 December 2004

[Friday, December 24, 2004] A Progress spacecraft is due to dock with the ISS on Christmas Day. NASA TV coverage begins at 6 p.m. EST. The Progress will dock at approximately 7:05 p.m. EST.

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Huygens Released From Cassini »» Huygens Released From Cassini

[Friday, December 24, 2004] ESA's Huygens probe successfully detached from NASA's Cassini orbiter today to begin a three-week journey to Saturnís moon Titan. All systems performed as expected and there were no problems reported with the Cassini spacecraft.

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Progress Docks With Space Station »» Progress Docks With Space Station

[Saturday, December 25, 2004] A new Russian cargo spacecraft is now docked with the ISS. The Progress vehicle and Station successfully linked up this evening to deliver 5,000 pounds of food, fuel, oxygen, water, supplies and holiday gifts to the Expedition 10 crew.

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Cassini Image: Huygens Probe Release »» Cassini Image: Huygens Probe Release

[Sunday, December 26, 2004] This image was taken about 12 hours after the probe's release from the orbiter. The probe successfully detached from Cassini on Dec. 24, 2004, and is on course for its January 14 encounter with Titan.

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NASA Highlights for 2004 »» NASA Highlights for 2004

[Monday, December 27, 2004] By any measurement 2004 was a good year for NASA. It all started with the first of the twin rovers, Spirit successfully landing on Mars, soon followed by the President's announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration then Opportunity landing on Mars.

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NOAA Reacts Quickly to Tsunami »» NOAA Reacts Quickly to Tsunami

[Monday, December 27, 2004] NOAA scientists acted quickly when a warning was issued about the powerful undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean that triggered a devastating tsunami.

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Possibility of an Earth Impact in 2029 Ruled Out for Asteroid 2004 MN4 »» Possibility of an Earth Impact in 2029 Ruled Out for Asteroid 2004 MN4

[Monday, December 27, 2004] Telescopic observations extended the observed time interval for this asteroid by three months allowing an improvement in its orbit so that an Earth impact on 13 April 2029 can now be ruled out.

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Huygens begins its final journey into the unknown »» Huygens begins its final journey into the unknown

[Tuesday, December 28, 2004] The European Space Agency's Huygens probe was successfully released by NASA's Cassini orbiter and is now on a controlled collision course toward Saturn's largest and most mysterious moon, Titan.

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Digital Globe Image of Kalutara, Sri Lanka Shortly After Tsunami Arrival »» Digital Globe Image of Kalutara, Sri Lanka Shortly After Tsunami Arrival

[Wednesday, December 29, 2004] This is a natural color QuickBird satellite image featuring the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka collected at 10:20 am local time, slightly less than four hours after the 6:28 am earthquake and shortly after the moment of tsunami impact.

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Waning Iapetus »» Waning Iapetus

[Wednesday, December 29, 2004] These are the sharpest views of Iapetus from Cassini so far, and they represent better resolution than the best images of this moon achieved by NASA's Voyager spacecraft.

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Opportunity Visits its Heat Shield Impact Site »» Opportunity Visits its Heat Shield Impact Site

[Wednesday, December 29, 2004] NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity gained this view of its own heat shield during the rover's 325th martian day (Dec. 22, 2004). The main structure from the successfully used shield is to the far left.

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Methane found on Saturn plays crucial role in planet formation »» Methane found on Saturn plays crucial role in planet formation

[Wednesday, December 29, 2004] Using an infrared spectrometer on the Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft, researchers have measured the temperature, winds and chemical composition of Saturn, its rings and one of its moons, Phoebe.

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UNM researchers identify youngest lunar meteorite »» UNM researchers identify youngest lunar meteorite

[Wednesday, December 29, 2004] Researchers at the University of New Mexico have identified a 2.9 billion year-old lunar meteorite. The meteorite, found in Africa in 2000, was examined by a group of scientists in the Earth and Planetary Sciences department.

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NASA Events Commemorate Rover Anniversary on Mars »» NASA Events Commemorate Rover Anniversary on Mars

[Thursday, December 30, 2004] On Jan. 3, 2004, cheers erupted from mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), when the first robotic rover successfully landed on Mars. Three weeks later, the second rover successfully landed on the opposite side of Mars.

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NASA Space Station Status Report 30 December 2004 »» NASA Space Station Status Report 30 December 2004

[Thursday, December 30, 2004] The Expedition 10 crew wrapped up its last week of 2004 unloading contents from the newly arrived Russian Progress cargo vehicle and making plans to ring in the new year Space Station style.

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NASA's Cassini Caps off 2004 With Flyby of Icy Moon Iapetus »» NASA's Cassini Caps off 2004 With Flyby of Icy Moon Iapetus

[Thursday, December 30, 2004] Cassini is set to cap off 2004 with an encounter of Saturn's moon Iapetus on New Year's Eve.†This is Cassini's closest pass yet by one of Saturn's smaller icy satellites since its arrival.† The next close flyby of Iapetus is not until 2007.†

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