December 2005 Top Story Archives



First Brazilian rocket launched from Esrange »» First Brazilian rocket launched from Esrange

[Thursday, December 1, 2005] Today, the Texus-EML sounding rocket which is jointly funded by ESA and DLR was successfully launched from Esrange. The Brazilian rocket motor VSB-30, was used for the very first time at Esrange.

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A Giant Hubble Mosaic of the Crab Nebula »» A Giant Hubble Mosaic of the Crab Nebula

[Thursday, December 1, 2005] This is a mosaic image, one of the largest ever taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of the Crab Nebula, a six-light-year-wide expanding remnant of a star's supernova explosion.

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Chandra Proves Black Hole Influence is Far Reaching »» Chandra Proves Black Hole Influence is Far Reaching

[Thursday, December 1, 2005] Scientists using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered evidence of energetic plumes – particles that extend 300,000 light years into a massive cluster of galaxies.

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Discovery and competitiveness: the keywords in Europe's policies and programmes for space »» Discovery and competitiveness: the keywords in Europe's policies and programmes for space

[Thursday, December 1, 2005] On 5 and 6 December, the Ministers in charge of space activities within the 17 ESA Member States and Canada will meet in Berlin to deliberate on a plan for discovery and competitiveness for Europe in space, and to decide on the relevant future programs.

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Landsat 5 Experiencing Technical Difficulties »» Landsat 5 Experiencing Technical Difficulties

[Thursday, December 1, 2005] On November 26, 2005, the back-up solar array drive on Landsat 5 began exhibiting unusual behavior. The solar array drive maintains the proper pointing angle between the solar array and the sun.

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No safe ground for life to stand on during world's largest mass extinction »» No safe ground for life to stand on during world's largest mass extinction

[Thursday, December 1, 2005] The world's largest mass extinction was probably caused by poisonous volcanic gas. The research, published in the journal Geology, reveals vital clues about the mass extinction at the end of the Permian period, 250 million years ago

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Jump-Starting a Cellular World: Investigating the Origin of Life, from Soup to Networks »» Jump-Starting a Cellular World: Investigating the Origin of Life, from Soup to Networks

[Friday, December 2, 2005] While the past half century has seen an explosion of knowledge about the evolution of life after it began, there has been relatively little progress in the past half century on how it began—the so-called origin question.

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Near Earth Objects - what lies ahead? »» Near Earth Objects - what lies ahead?

[Friday, December 2, 2005] Telescope facilities across the world are watching the skies for rocky remnants from outer space on a collision course with planet Earth. Currently one or two of these so called 'Near Earth Objects' are being recorded each day.

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NASA Deep Impact Mission Update - November 2005 »» NASA Deep Impact Mission Update - November 2005

[Friday, December 2, 2005] "The science team has continued with data analysis. Many people don't realize the detailed computations that are required to convert a picture made up of raw data numbers into an image containing numbers of physical meaning."

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NASA Announces Telerobotic Construction Competition »» NASA Announces Telerobotic Construction Competition

[Friday, December 2, 2005] NASA's Centennial Challenges program office, in collaboration with the Spaceward Foundation, announced the new Telerobotic Construction Challenge.

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NASA Announces Planetary Science Vehicle Competition »» NASA Announces Planetary Science Vehicle Competition

[Friday, December 2, 2005] NASA's Centennial Challenges program office, in collaboration with the California Space Education and Workforce Institute, Santa Maria, Calif., announced the Planetary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Challenge.

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Designing the missions of the future »» Designing the missions of the future

[Friday, December 2, 2005] Action station, an asteroid is threatening our planet! The menace is real and a rapid response must be found. At ESA's Technical Centre in the Netherlands, engineers believe that they have found the solution.

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Defense Science Board Task Force on The Future of the Global Positioning System »» Defense Science Board Task Force on The Future of the Global Positioning System

[Friday, December 2, 2005] In 2004, the acting USD and the ASD jointly requested that the Defense Science Board undertake a Task Force on the future of the Global Positioning System. The request focused on the implications for GPS from a civil-commercial Galileo.

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NASA's Mars Rovers Continue to Explore & Amaze »» NASA's Mars Rovers Continue to Explore & Amaze

[Monday, December 5, 2005] NASA's twin Mars rovers have successfully explored the surface of the mysterious red planet for a full Martian year. The rovers' original mission was scheduled for only three months.

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NASA & NSF Create Unprecedented View of Upper Atmosphere »» NASA & NSF Create Unprecedented View of Upper Atmosphere

[Monday, December 5, 2005] Scientists from NASA and the National Science Foundation discovered a way to combine ground and space observations to create an unprecedented view of upper atmosphere disturbances during space storms.

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Hubble Movies Show Traffic Jam in Stellar Jets »» Hubble Movies Show Traffic Jam in Stellar Jets

[Monday, December 5, 2005] Like traffic on a freeway, plasma spewing from the poles of newborn stars moves in clumps that travel at different speeds. When fast-moving particles run into slower material, the resulting "traffic jams" create massive shock waves.

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Rivers on Titan Resemble Those on Earth »» Rivers on Titan Resemble Those on Earth

[Monday, December 5, 2005] Recent evidence from the Huygens Probe of the Cassini Mission suggests that Titan, the largest moon orbiting Saturn, is a world where rivers of liquid methane sculpt channels in continents of ice.

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NASA Satellites Yield Best-ever Antarctic Maps »» NASA Satellites Yield Best-ever Antarctic Maps

[Monday, December 5, 2005] Scientists using satellite data have now created the most detailed maps ever produced of Antarctica. The maps reveal unprecedented views of surface features that provide clues to how and why the continent's massive ice sheets and glaciers are changing.

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Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Demonstrations »» Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Demonstrations

[Tuesday, December 6, 2005] The announcement and subsequent agreements with industry partners in this project are referred to as Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Demonstrations.

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NASA's Cassini Images Reveal Spectacular Evidence of an Active Moon »» NASA's Cassini Images Reveal Spectacular Evidence of an Active Moon

[Tuesday, December 6, 2005] Jets of fine, icy particles streaming from Saturn's moon Enceladus were captured in recent images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The images provide unambiguous visual evidence the moon is geologically active.

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Cassini's Photo Album From a Season of Icy Moons »» Cassini's Photo Album From a Season of Icy Moons

[Tuesday, December 6, 2005] Wrapping-up a phenomenally successful year of observing Saturn's icy moons, the Cassini mission is releasing a flood of new views of the moons Enceladus, Dione, Rhea, Hyperion, and Iapetus.

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NASA's AURA Satellite Peers Into Earth's Ozone Hole »» NASA's AURA Satellite Peers Into Earth's Ozone Hole

[Tuesday, December 6, 2005] NASA researchers, using data from the agency's AURA satellite, determined the seasonal ozone hole that developed over Antarctica this year is smaller than in previous years.

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Leadership in Space - Speech by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin »» Leadership in Space - Speech by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin

[Tuesday, December 6, 2005] "I'm here today to talk about national and world leadership in space - what it means to me, and what I think it takes to achieve and maintain it."

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Galaxy collisions dominate the local universe »» Galaxy collisions dominate the local universe

[Wednesday, December 7, 2005] More than half of the largest galaxies in the nearby universe have collided and merged with another galaxy in the past 2 billion years, according to a study using hundreds of images from two of the deepest sky surveys ever conducted.

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NASA Selects ATK to be Prime Contractor for First Stage of Next Generation Crew Launch Vehicle »» NASA Selects ATK to be Prime Contractor for First Stage of Next Generation Crew Launch Vehicle

[Wednesday, December 7, 2005] NASA announced that Alliant Techsystems will become the prime contractor to design, develop, test, and evaluate the First Stage propulsion system for its next-generation Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV).

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ESO Signs Largest-Ever European Industrial Contract For Ground-Based Astronomy Project ALMA »» ESO Signs Largest-Ever European Industrial Contract For Ground-Based Astronomy Project ALMA

[Wednesday, December 7, 2005] ESO announced today that it has signed a contract with the consortium led by Alcatel Alenia Space and composed also of European Industrial Engineering (Italy) and MT Aerospace, to supply 25 antennas for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) project

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A century after Gerard Kuiper's birth, U.S. prepares to launch first probe to the Kuiper Belt »» A century after Gerard Kuiper's birth, U.S. prepares to launch first probe to the Kuiper Belt

[Wednesday, December 7, 2005] One hundred years ago today, Gerard P. Kuiper was born in Harenscarpel, The Netherlands. Just over one month from now, NASA plans to launch its first mission, New Horizons, to study explore the fascinating region of the solar system that Kuiper foresaw.

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Science and Exploration; Speech by Michael Griffin to the American Geophysical Union »» Science and Exploration; Speech by Michael Griffin to the American Geophysical Union

[Wednesday, December 7, 2005] "I'm here today to talk about what science at NASA means to U.S. leadership in space exploration. I will also discuss the opportunities in science that we expect to result from both our new exploration plan and our ongoing decadal research plans."

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Falcon 1 Maiden Flight Update »» Falcon 1 Maiden Flight Update

[Thursday, December 8, 2005] "The new launch date is approximately December 20, depending on when the Missile Defense Agency testing is complete. As soon as we have a firm time, it will be posted."

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Seriously damaged Hayabusa making best efforts to come back to Earth »» Seriously damaged Hayabusa making best efforts to come back to Earth

[Thursday, December 8, 2005] "The Hayabusa project team has gradually restored communications between the Hayabusa, who lost its attitude control just after its touchdown on Nov. 26, and ground stations by taking various emergency measures."

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JHU-STScI Team Maps Dark Matter in Startling Detail »» JHU-STScI Team Maps Dark Matter in Startling Detail

[Friday, December 9, 2005] Clues revealed by the recently sharpened view of the Hubble Space Telescope have allowed astronomers to map the location of invisible "dark matter" in unprecedented detail in two very young galaxy clusters.

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Movement of Earth's North Magnetic Pole Accelerating Rapidly »» Movement of Earth's North Magnetic Pole Accelerating Rapidly

[Friday, December 9, 2005] After some 400 years of relative stability, Earth's North Magnetic Pole has moved nearly 1,100 kilometers out into the Arctic Ocean during the last century and at its present rate could move from northern Canada to Siberia within the next half-century.

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European Ministers deliberate on discovery and competitiveness »» European Ministers deliberate on discovery and competitiveness

[Sunday, December 11, 2005] The Ministers responsible for space in the European Space Agency's 17 Member States and Canada have concluded a two-day meeting of ESA's ruling Council in Berlin by deciding on a coherent plan for discovery and competitiveness for Europe in space.

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Hayabusa Status Reports 20 November 2005 »» Hayabusa Status Reports 20 November 2005

[Sunday, December 11, 2005] Part of a series of attitude and orbit control commands to restore the Hayabusa from its safe-hold mode have not gone well, and the functions of its major systems, including its attitude and communication network, have significantly deteriorated.

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Orbital Eyes Picked NASA Mars Rover Opportunity's Landing Site »» Orbital Eyes Picked NASA Mars Rover Opportunity's Landing Site

[Monday, December 12, 2005] If coming to rest inside Eagle Crater was a giant stroke of luck, chance played no role at all in the choice of Meridiani Planum as a landing site. NASA picked Meridiani on the strength of data from two instruments on the Mars Odyssey orbiter.

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MESSENGER Engine Burn Puts Spacecraft on Track for Venus »» MESSENGER Engine Burn Puts Spacecraft on Track for Venus

[Monday, December 12, 2005] NASA's Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft successfully fired its large bipropellant thruster today for the first time since launch, completing the first of several critical deep space maneuvers that will help the spacecraft reach Mercury orbit.

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NASA Mars Global Surveyor records hundreds of auroras on Mars during the past six years »» NASA Mars Global Surveyor records hundreds of auroras on Mars during the past six years

[Monday, December 12, 2005] Auroras similar to Earth's Northern Lights appear to be common on Mars, according to physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, who have analyzed six years' worth of data from the Mars Global Surveyor.

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Simulations shed light on Earth's history of magnetic field reversals »» Simulations shed light on Earth's history of magnetic field reversals

[Monday, December 12, 2005] A new analysis of computer simulations of Earth's magnetic field suggests that its behavior was different early in Earth's history, resulting in greater stability and fewer reversals of the magnetic field.

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Piecing together Earth's tectonic past in Antarctica »» Piecing together Earth's tectonic past in Antarctica

[Monday, December 12, 2005] Anyone who has hovered over a jigsaw puzzle for hours knows that sometimes you can't figure out how two pieces fit together until you've placed all the pieces around them. The same holds true for Earth's tectonic plates.

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AST/RO ends 11 successful years at The South Pole »» AST/RO ends 11 successful years at The South Pole

[Monday, December 12, 2005] Scientists are currently dismantling the 1.7-meter AST/RO radio telescope, after almost 11 years of searching the sky, to make room for its larger and more advanced successor, the 10-meter South Pole Telescope.

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The PI's Perspective: New Horizons Mission to Pluto: Next Month, We Aim to Fly! »» The PI's Perspective: New Horizons Mission to Pluto: Next Month, We Aim to Fly!

[Monday, December 12, 2005] "I have been working on seeing the United States fly a mission to Pluto since early in 1988. Here we are, about 6,060 days, or 211 months later, and it's finally possible to say: "Next month, we set sail for Pluto."

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Movement in the Shadows »» Movement in the Shadows

[Monday, December 12, 2005] A gorgeous close-up look at the Saturnian atmosphere reveals small, bright and puffy clouds with long filamentary streamers that are reminiscent of the anvil-shaped Earthly cirrus clouds that extend downwind of thunderstorms.

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Antarctic Scientists keep eyes on upper atmosphere »» Antarctic Scientists keep eyes on upper atmosphere

[Monday, December 12, 2005] Part of the team's mission is to match up the different types of particles with the auroras they create. Equipped with this information, engineers can improve current safety designs of space shuttles and satellites.

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Discovery of »» Discovery of "Buffy", a large Kuiper Belt object with an unusual orbit

[Tuesday, December 13, 2005] A team of astronomers working in Canada, France and the United States have discovered an unusual small body orbiting the Sun beyond Neptune, in the region astronomers call the Kuiper belt.

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Astronomers use Hubble to 'weigh' Dog Star's companion »» Astronomers use Hubble to 'weigh' Dog Star's companion

[Tuesday, December 13, 2005] A team of astronomers has used the Hubble Space Telescope to isolate the light from Sirius B. The new results allow them to measure precisely the white dwarf's mass based on how its gravitational field alters the wavelengths of light emitted by the star.

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Photo Report: Progress M-55 transport cargo vehicle processing at  Baikonur Cosmodrome »» Photo Report: Progress M-55 transport cargo vehicle processing at Baikonur Cosmodrome

[Tuesday, December 13, 2005] Processing continues at Baikonur Cosmodrome for the launch of the Progress M-55 cargo vehicle. Launch is scheduled for 21 December. Docking with the ISS is planned for 23 December.

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Hayabusa Status Report 14 December 2005 »» Hayabusa Status Report 14 December 2005

[Wednesday, December 14, 2005] "The project is now not so sure to make the spacecraft return to earth in June of 2007 and has decided to lengthen the flight period for three years more to have it return to the Earth in June of 2010."

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NASA Announces Pluto Mission Briefing »» NASA Announces Pluto Mission Briefing

[Wednesday, December 14, 2005] NASA will brief news media about the New Horizons mission to Pluto and its moon Charon at 1 p.m. EST, Monday at the agency's headquarters, 300 E Street SW, Washington.

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Microbes under Greenland Ice may be preview of what scientists find under Mars' surface »» Microbes under Greenland Ice may be preview of what scientists find under Mars' surface

[Wednesday, December 14, 2005] A University of California, Berkeley, study of methane-producing bacteria frozen at the bottom of Greenland's two-mile thick ice sheet could help guide scientists searching for similar bacterial life on Mars.

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NASA Spitzer Team Says Debris Disk Could Be Forming Infant Terrestrial Planets »» NASA Spitzer Team Says Debris Disk Could Be Forming Infant Terrestrial Planets

[Wednesday, December 14, 2005] Astronomers have found a debris disk around a sun-like star that may be forming or has formed its terrestrial planets. The disk may have begun a solar-system-scale demolition derby, where the rocky remains of failed planets collide chaotically.

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Witnessing the Flash from a Black Hole's Cannibal Act »» Witnessing the Flash from a Black Hole's Cannibal Act

[Wednesday, December 14, 2005] Astronomers report the discovery of a short gamma-ray burst, associated with a nearby elliptical galaxy. The low level of star formation in such galaxies indicates that this gamma-ray burst is most likely a neutron star being devoured by a black hole.

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XMM-Newton view of hot ionised gas halo in NGC 4631 »» XMM-Newton view of hot ionised gas halo in NGC 4631

[Wednesday, December 14, 2005] Astronomers using ESA's XMM-Newton observatory have found very hot gaseous halos around a multitude of spiral galaxies similar to our Milky Way galaxy. These 'ghost-like' veils have been suspected for decades but remained elusive until now.

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House-Senate Conference Committee to Consider NASA Authorization Today »» House-Senate Conference Committee to Consider NASA Authorization Today

[Thursday, December 15, 2005] A House-Senate Conference Committee will convene at 2:30 p.m. TODAY in Room SC-4 of the Capitol to consider the Conference Report for S. 1281, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Act of 2005.

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Conference Agreement Reached on NASA Authorization Bill »» Conference Agreement Reached on NASA Authorization Bill

[Thursday, December 15, 2005] The House Science Committee and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today reached agreement on a bill to reauthorize the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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Historic SpaceX Launch Set for December 19: The World's Lowest Cost Rocket to Orbit »» Historic SpaceX Launch Set for December 19: The World's Lowest Cost Rocket to Orbit

[Thursday, December 15, 2005] On Monday, December 19 at 11 a.m. PST (7 p.m. GMT), the Falcon 1 rocket will begin its journey to orbit, accelerating to 17,000 mph (25 times the speed of sound) in less than ten minutes.   

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Multiple Instruments Capture Enceladus Plume »» Multiple Instruments Capture Enceladus Plume

[Saturday, December 17, 2005] Cassini observations by several instruments have revealed the source of Saturn's broadest and faintest ring. Observations show that tiny particles of frozen water ice are streaming outward into space from the south polar region of the moon Enceladus.

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House Passes NASA Authorization Bill »» House Passes NASA Authorization Bill

[Saturday, December 17, 2005] A bill to reauthorize the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was passed by the House of Representatives today.  The Senate is expected to approve the measure later this month and the President is expected to sign it into law.

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Help Make A NASA Cassini Image Time Magazine's Number One Photo of 2005 »» Help Make A NASA Cassini Image Time Magazine's Number One Photo of 2005

[Sunday, December 18, 2005] If you go to this link on Time magazine's website you can vote for the #1 image among Time's Top Ten Images for 2005. A Cassini image of Saturn is among the choices.

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Congress Gives NASA It's Marching Orders on Space Station Science »» Congress Gives NASA It's Marching Orders on Space Station Science

[Monday, December 19, 2005] NASA Administrator Griffin has been dramatically cutting basic life and microgravity science research across the agency. With the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, Congress has put its foot down.

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Falcon 1 Launch Scrubbed »» Falcon 1 Launch Scrubbed

[Monday, December 19, 2005] At 2:25 pm EST SpaceX announced that a structural issue in the first stage fuel tank of the Falcon 1 launch vehicle had arisen and that the launch is off until at least next month.

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Graduation Address by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin at the Georgia Institute of Technology Fall Commencement »» Graduation Address by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin at the Georgia Institute of Technology Fall Commencement

[Monday, December 19, 2005] "Today, we are at the cusp of a new age of exploration, one that will take robotic pathfinders and pioneering astronauts to the Moon, Mars and beyond."

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NASA Sets Sights on First Pluto Mission »» NASA Sets Sights on First Pluto Mission

[Monday, December 19, 2005] NASA is preparing to launch the first spacecraft to distant Pluto and its moon Charon. The January 2006 launch of New Horizons will complete the initial reconnaissance of the planets in the solar system.

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Wanted: Amateur Stargazers To Help Solve Supernova Mystery »» Wanted: Amateur Stargazers To Help Solve Supernova Mystery

[Monday, December 19, 2005] Ohio State University scientists have thought of a new way to solve an astronomical mystery, and their plan relies on a well-connected network of amateur stargazers and one very elusive subatomic particle.

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Most of Arctic's Near-Surface Permafrost to Thaw by 2100 »» Most of Arctic's Near-Surface Permafrost to Thaw by 2100

[Monday, December 19, 2005] Global warming may decimate the top 10 feet (3 meters) or more of perennially frozen soil across the Northern Hemisphere, altering ecosystems as well as damaging buildings and roads across Canada, Alaska, and Russia.

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NASA's Grace Finds Greenland Melting Faster, 'Sees' Sumatra Quake »» NASA's Grace Finds Greenland Melting Faster, 'Sees' Sumatra Quake

[Tuesday, December 20, 2005] In the first direct, comprehensive mass survey of the entire Greenland ice sheet, scientists using data from the Grace have measured a significant decrease in the mass of the Greenland ice cap.

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Spitzer  Discovers Partial Ingredients for DNA and Protein Found Around Star »» Spitzer Discovers Partial Ingredients for DNA and Protein Found Around Star

[Tuesday, December 20, 2005] Spitzer has discovered some of life's most basic ingredients in the dust swirling around a young star. The ingredients were detected in the star's terrestrial planet zone, a region where rocky planets such as Earth are thought to be born.

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Flying across the Sun »» Flying across the Sun

[Tuesday, December 20, 2005] Four rare transits of the Sun by aircraft have been captured by the Improved Solar Optical Observing Network (ISOON) telescope at the National Solar Observatory atop Sacramento Peak at Sunspot, New Mexico.

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Pulsar Racing Through Space Reveals Comet-Like Trail »» Pulsar Racing Through Space Reveals Comet-Like Trail

[Tuesday, December 20, 2005] Scientists have uncovered a new feature in one of the closest pulsars to Earth, the Geminga pulsar. Plowing through space at 120 kilometers per second this dense nugget of a dead star leaves in its wake a comet-like trail of high-energy electrons.

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Mars Region Probably Less Watery in Past Than Thought, Says Study »» Mars Region Probably Less Watery in Past Than Thought, Says Study

[Wednesday, December 21, 2005] A region of Mars that some planetary scientists believe was once a shallow lakebed and likely habitable for life may not have been so wet after all, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study.

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NASA Prepares for Return of Stardust and its Interstellar Cargo »» NASA Prepares for Return of Stardust and its Interstellar Cargo

[Wednesday, December 21, 2005] Stardust is nearing Earth after a 2.88 billion mile journey to return cometary and interstellar dust particles back to Earth. Scientists believe the cargo will help provide answers to fundamental questions about the origins of the solar system.

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Allo, Allo? A Star is Ringing - VLT Helps Measuring Tortoise-like Motion »» Allo, Allo? A Star is Ringing - VLT Helps Measuring Tortoise-like Motion

[Wednesday, December 21, 2005] Astronomers have used ESO's Very Large Telescope and the Anglo-Australian Telescope as a 'stellar stethoscope' to listen to the internal rumblings of a nearby star. The data collected with the VLT have a precision of less than 0.06 km per hour!

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Flashes from the Past: Echoes from Ancient Supernovae »» Flashes from the Past: Echoes from Ancient Supernovae

[Wednesday, December 21, 2005] A team of astronomers has found faint visible echoes of three ancient supernovae by detecting their centuries-old light as it is reflected by clouds of interstellar gas hundreds of light-years removed from the original explosions.

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NASA Space Station Status Report 21 December 2005 »» NASA Space Station Status Report 21 December 2005

[Wednesday, December 21, 2005] A shipment of supplies and holiday presents is on its way to the International Space Station following the launch of the ISS Progress 20 cargo ship today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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Mission to Mars via Antarctica »» Mission to Mars via Antarctica

[Wednesday, December 21, 2005] During their one year stay at the Concordia Station the Italian-French crew will participate in a number of ESA experiments – the outcome of which will help prepare for long-term missions to Mars.

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Congress Approves Sen. Hutchison's NASA Authorization Bill »» Congress Approves Sen. Hutchison's NASA Authorization Bill

[Wednesday, December 21, 2005] The Senate tonight passed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Act of 2005, which authorizes NASA for Fiscal Years 07 & 08, establishes a policy objective of uninterrupted U.S. spaceflight capability and requires completion of the ISS.

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NASA'S Top Space Exploration Stories of the Year »» NASA'S Top Space Exploration Stories of the Year

[Thursday, December 22, 2005] NASA completed a successful year of milestones and discoveries in 2005 as the agency begins to implement America's long-term plan for returning astronauts to the moon to prepare for voyages to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

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ASU geologists suggest Mars features are result of meteorite strikes, not of evaporated lakes »» ASU geologists suggest Mars features are result of meteorite strikes, not of evaporated lakes

[Thursday, December 22, 2005] Geologic features at the Opportunity landing site on Mars were formed not by a lake that evaporated but by constant strikes from meteorites, say two Arizona State University geologists.

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NASA's Hubble Discovers New Rings & Moons Around Uranus »» NASA's Hubble Discovers New Rings & Moons Around Uranus

[Thursday, December 22, 2005] NASA's Hubble Space Telescope photographed a new pair of rings around Uranus and two new, small moons orbiting the planet. The largest ring is twice the diameter of the planet's previously known rings.

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U.S. Naval Observatory to Add Leap Second to Clocks »» U.S. Naval Observatory to Add Leap Second to Clocks

[Thursday, December 22, 2005] On December 31, 2005 a "leap second" will be added to the world's clocks at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds UTC. This corresponds to 6:59:59 pm EST, when the extra second will be inserted at the U.S. Naval Observatory.

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A Holiday Gift from Space: Spitzer Photographs Christmas Tree Cluster »» A Holiday Gift from Space: Spitzer Photographs Christmas Tree Cluster

[Thursday, December 22, 2005] Even outer space is joining the year-end celebration with this new image of a star-forming region called the Christmas Tree cluster recently taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

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Executive Summary (Introduction): NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study Final Report (DRAFT) October 2005 »» Executive Summary (Introduction): NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study Final Report (DRAFT) October 2005

[Thursday, December 22, 2005] "To determine the best exploration architecture and strategy to implement these many changes, the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS) team was established at NASA Headquarters (HQ) as discussed below."

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Executive Summary (Introduction-CEV): NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study Final Report (DRAFT) October 2005 »» Executive Summary (Introduction-CEV): NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study Final Report (DRAFT) October 2005

[Thursday, December 22, 2005] "One of the key requirements to enable a successful human space exploration program is the development and implementation of a vehicle capable of transporting and housing crew on LEO, lunar, and Mars missions. "

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NASA ESAS Final Report (DRAFT): TEXT OF FULL REPORT »» NASA ESAS Final Report (DRAFT): TEXT OF FULL REPORT

[Tuesday, December 27, 2005] In January 2004, President George W. Bush announced a new Vision for Space Exploration for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that would return humans to the Moon by 2020 in preparation for human exploration of Mars.

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Cassini Image: Titan -- T9 »» Cassini Image: Titan -- T9

[Tuesday, December 27, 2005] This image was taken on December 26, 2005 and received on Earth December 27, 2005. The camera was pointing toward Titan at approximately 57,509 kilometers (35,734 miles) away.

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Cassini Image: The Face of Beauty »» Cassini Image: The Face of Beauty

[Tuesday, December 27, 2005] Few sights in the solar system are more strikingly beautiful than softly hued Saturn embraced by the shadows of its stately rings.

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Cassini Image: Titan's Halo »» Cassini Image: Titan's Halo

[Tuesday, December 27, 2005] With its thick, distended atmosphere, Titan's orange globe shines softly, encircled by a thin halo of purple light-scattering haze.

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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: Southern Cross (Constellation Crux) Star Calibration Image »» Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: Southern Cross (Constellation Crux) Star Calibration Image

[Wednesday, December 28, 2005] Imaging stars while a Mars-bound spacecraft is in its cruise phase provides a good way to verify that a camera is in good focus, following the rigors of the launch from Florida.

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E=mc2 passes tough MIT test »» E=mc2 passes tough MIT test

[Wednesday, December 28, 2005] In a fitting cap to the World Year of Physics 2005, MIT physicists and colleagues from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report the most precise direct test yet of Einstein's most famous equation, E=mc2.

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NASA Astronomers Spot Rare Lunar Meteor Strike »» NASA Astronomers Spot Rare Lunar Meteor Strike

[Wednesday, December 28, 2005] Astronomers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., have recorded a small but powerful meteoroid strike in the night on the moon's surface.

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SN 1006: The Hot Remains of a 1000 Year-Old Supernova »» SN 1006: The Hot Remains of a 1000 Year-Old Supernova

[Wednesday, December 28, 2005] In 1006 AD, what was thought to be a "new star" suddenly appeared in the sky and over the course of a few days became brighter than the planet Venus. The supernova of 1006, or SN 1006, may have been the brightest supernova on record.

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Galaxy's Neighboring Spiral Arm is Closer Than Thought »» Galaxy's Neighboring Spiral Arm is Closer Than Thought

[Wednesday, December 28, 2005] The Perseus spiral arm - the nearest spiral arm in the Milky Way outside the Sun's orbit - lies only half as far from Earth as some previous studies had suggested.

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NASA Honoring Michoud Employees for Heroic Hurricane Work »» NASA Honoring Michoud Employees for Heroic Hurricane Work

[Thursday, December 29, 2005] NASA is honoring 38 men and women who risked their lives during Hurricane Katrina to protect the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility, where space shuttle external fuel tanks are manufactured east of New Orleans.

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Chandra X-ray Observatory Looks Back at Earth »» Chandra X-ray Observatory Looks Back at Earth

[Thursday, December 29, 2005] In an unusual observation, a team of scientists has scanned the northern polar region of Earth with Chandra. The results show that the aurora borealis also dance in X-ray light, creating changing bright arcs of X-ray energy above the Earth's surface.

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Deep Impact Mission Update - December 2005: How Do Comets Evolve? »» Deep Impact Mission Update - December 2005: How Do Comets Evolve?

[Thursday, December 29, 2005] Every 5.5 years Tempel 1 is moved nearer the fire and withdrawn to a cooler place. With each approach to the sun a bit more of its constituent dust and volatile material is driven off into interplanetary space; so it evolves.

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The Cosmic Christmas Ghost - Two Stunning Pictures of Young Stellar Clusters »» The Cosmic Christmas Ghost - Two Stunning Pictures of Young Stellar Clusters

[Thursday, December 29, 2005] Just like Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol takes us on a journey into past, present and future in the time of only one Christmas Eve, two of ESO's telescopes captured various stages in the life of a star in a single image.

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Human Space Flight Requirements for Crew and Space Flight Participants; Proposed Rule »» Human Space Flight Requirements for Crew and Space Flight Participants; Proposed Rule

[Thursday, December 29, 2005] The FAA proposes requirements for human space flight of crew and space flight participants as required by the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004.

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A Dark Duo »» A Dark Duo

[Friday, December 30, 2005] Epimetheus (116 kilometers, or 72 miles across, at right) and Janus (181 kilometers, or 113 miles across, at left) are lit here by reflected "greylight" from Saturn. The Sun brightens only thin slivers of the moons' surfaces.

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NASA ESAS Final Report: TEXT OF FULL REPORT »» NASA ESAS Final Report: TEXT OF FULL REPORT

[Friday, December 30, 2005] Note: Recently we posted a final draft of this report. We have now have the final version. In order to present the most accurate version of this report, we have removed the draft version and replaced it with the final version.

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