February 2004 Top Story Archives



Overview of NASA's FY 2005 Budget »» Overview of NASA's FY 2005 Budget

[Monday, February 02, 2004] After weeks of hinting at what was in store, NASA finally released details of its FY 2005 budget. More importantly they provided insight into how the President's recently announced space policy will be implemented.

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Oxygen and Carbon Found In Atmosphere of an Extrasolar Planet »» Oxygen and Carbon Found In Atmosphere of an Extrasolar Planet

[Monday, February 02, 2004] NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected, for the first time ever, the presence of oxygen and carbon in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system.

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NASA Dedicates Mars Landmarks to Columbia Crew »» NASA Dedicates Mars Landmarks to Columbia Crew

[Monday, February 02, 2004] NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today announced the martian hills, located east of the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover's landing site, would be dedicated to the Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107 crew.

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Opportunity and Spirit Reach Out »» Opportunity and Spirit Reach Out

[Monday, February 02, 2004] Each of NASA's two Mars Exploration Rovers is using its versatile robotic arm for positioning tools at selected targets on the red planet.

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Columbia Memorial Dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery »» Columbia Memorial Dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery

[Monday, February 02, 2004] The fallen heroes of the Space Shuttle Columbia have taken their place at the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery.

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Ad Astra Sans Pork: Earmarks as Roadblocks in Space »» Ad Astra Sans Pork: Earmarks as Roadblocks in Space

[Wednesday, February 04, 2004] Even if one assumed that the constant growth in earmarks in past years were to remain stable, this could be problematical for NASA inasmuch as it is relying upon reprogramming and a modest budget increase to mount its new exploration agenda.

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Supernova Blast Bonanza in Nearby Galaxy »» Supernova Blast Bonanza in Nearby Galaxy

[Wednesday, February 04, 2004] In this new image the bubble structure is sculpted by the galactic super-winds and outflows caused by a colossal input of energy from collective supernova explosions that are linked with a massive episode of star birth.

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Galactic Building Blocks Seen Swarming Around Andromeda »» Galactic Building Blocks Seen Swarming Around Andromeda

[Wednesday, February 04, 2004] Astronomers have made the first conclusive detection of what appear to be the leftover building blocks of galaxy formation -- neutral hydrogen clouds -- swarming around the Andromeda Galaxy, the nearest large spiral galaxy to the Milky Way.

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Opportunity Sees Tiny Spheres in Martian Soil »» Opportunity Sees Tiny Spheres in Martian Soil

[Wednesday, February 04, 2004] NASA's Opportunity has examined its first patch of soil in the small crater where the rover landed on Mars and found strikingly spherical pebbles among the mix of particles there.

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NASA Hubble Space Telescopes Details Inner workings of Galaxy M64 »» NASA Hubble Space Telescopes Details Inner workings of Galaxy M64

[Thursday, February 05, 2004] A collision of two galaxies has left a merged star system with an unusual appearance. M64 has a spectacular dark band of absorbing dust in front of the galaxy's bright nucleus, giving rise to its nickname of the "Black Eye" galaxy.

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Canadian Led Mission to Mars Will Soon be One Step Closer »» Canadian Led Mission to Mars Will Soon be One Step Closer

[Thursday, February 05, 2004] Canada may soon have its own mission to the red planet SpaceRef has learned. An official announcement from Canadian Space Agency (CSA) President Dr. Marc Garneau for a feasibility study is expected soon.

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Healthy Spirit Cleans a Mars Rock; Opportunity Rolls »» Healthy Spirit Cleans a Mars Rock; Opportunity Rolls

[Saturday, February 07, 2004] NASA's Spirit has returned to full health and resumed doing things never attempted on Mars before.

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NASA Spirit Rover Grinds Hole in a Rock on Mars »» NASA Spirit Rover Grinds Hole in a Rock on Mars

[Saturday, February 07, 2004] The round, shallow depression in this image resulted from history's first grinding of a rock on Mars. The hole is 2.65 millimeters (0.1 inch) deep, exposing fresh interior material of the rock "Adirondack".

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Anonymous Documents Describe Shuttle Hubble Mission Risks »» Anonymous Documents Describe Shuttle Hubble Mission Risks

[Sunday, February 08, 2004] These two documents detailing the risks associated with a shuttle servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope are presented anonymously and have been circulating on Capitol Hill and the astronomy community.

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Opportunity Spies Its Back Shell and Parachute »» Opportunity Spies Its Back Shell and Parachute

[Monday, February 09, 2004] From its new location at the inner edge of the small crater surrounding it, the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity was able to look out to the plains where its back shell and parachute appear to have landed.

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Close up Imagery of Strange Gray Spheres on Mars »» Close up Imagery of Strange Gray Spheres on Mars

[Monday, February 09, 2004] NASA's Spirit rover has begun making some of its own driving decisions while its twin, Opportunity, is presenting scientists with decisions to make about studying small spheres embedded in bedrock, like berries in a muffin.

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Astronomy Community Disputes NASA’s Hubble Plans »» Astronomy Community Disputes NASA’s Hubble Plans

[Tuesday, February 10, 2004] Not everyone is happy with NASA's decision to cancel a Space Shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Scientists Find Ozone-destroying Molecule »» Scientists Find Ozone-destroying Molecule

[Tuesday, February 10, 2004] Using measurements from a NASA aircraft flying over the Arctic, Harvard University scientists have made the first observations of a molecule that researchers have long theorized plays a key role in destroying stratospheric ozone, chlorine peroxide

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Congress Expresses Enthusiasm and Doubt About New Space Policy »» Congress Expresses Enthusiasm and Doubt About New Space Policy

[Thursday, February 12, 2004] The House Science Committee invited the Administrator of NASA and the President's Science Advisor to testify on the new space policy. Among the items discussed: NASA now sees a planned return to flight for the Shuttle this Fall to be doubtful.

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International Interplanetary Networking Succeeds Between Earth and Mars »» International Interplanetary Networking Succeeds Between Earth and Mars

[Thursday, February 12, 2004] A pioneering demonstration of communications between NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit and the European Space Agency (ESA) Mars Express orbiter succeeded.

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President's New Space Commission has its First Meeting »» President's New Space Commission has its First Meeting

[Thursday, February 12, 2004] In announcing his new space policy last month, President Bush also announced a commission whose job it was to see the policy through its initial birth pangs. That committee met for the first time on Thursday.

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Spitzer Space Telescope Photographs a Cosmic Valentine Rose »» Spitzer Space Telescope Photographs a Cosmic Valentine Rose

[Thursday, February 12, 2004] These bright young stars are found in a rosebud-shaped (and rose-colored) nebulosity known as NGC 7129. The star cluster and its associated nebula are located at a distance of 3300 light-years in the constellation Cepheus.

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Apollo Launch Tower Campaign Has Kicked Into High Gear »» Apollo Launch Tower Campaign Has Kicked Into High Gear

[Friday, February 13, 2004] With 4300 signatures on the "Save The LUT" petition, and media coverage accelerating, the Space Restoration Society will seek to forestall the planned demolition of the historic Apollo Launch Umbilical Tower now in storage at the Kennedy Space Center. 

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Titan is an ideal lab for oceanography, meteorology »» Titan is an ideal lab for oceanography, meteorology

[Saturday, February 14, 2004] After a 7-year interplanetary voyage, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will reach Saturn this July and begin what promises to be one of the most exciting missions in planetary exploration history.

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Science goes deeper with Antarctic meteorites »» Science goes deeper with Antarctic meteorites

[Saturday, February 14, 2004] As the Antarctic Search for Meteorites team returns this week with newfound treasures from the ice, scientists in other parts of the world are studying previously collected samples in new ways.

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Hubble and Keck Team Up to FInd Farthest Known Galaxy in the Universe »» Hubble and Keck Team Up to FInd Farthest Known Galaxy in the Universe

[Sunday, February 15, 2004] Astronomers may have set a new record in discovering what is the most distant known galaxy in the universe. Located an estimated 13 billion light-years away, the object is being viewed when the universe was barely 5 percent of its current age.

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Mars Express Views the Caldera of Olympus Mons Close-up
»» Mars Express Views the Caldera of Olympus Mons Close-up

[Monday, February 16, 2004] ESA has released some stunning images of the solar system's largest volcano, Olympus Mons. These images were taken by Mars Express from a height of 273 km during orbit 37 on 21 January 2004.

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NASA Planning to Move Next Shuttle Mission to 2005 »» NASA Planning to Move Next Shuttle Mission to 2005

[Tuesday, February 17, 2004] Last week NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe told Congress that the chance of launching STS-114 in September 2004 was doubtful.According to NASA sources planned launch dates will almost certainly slip to March 2005 for STS-114 and May 2005 for STS-121.

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NASA Responds to Hubble Criticism »» NASA Responds to Hubble Criticism

[Wednesday, February 18, 2004] A number of editorials have appeared online regarding NASA's decision to not send a Shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Despite a number of replies NASA has sent in response, none of the letters seems to have been published online.

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Black Hole Discovered Tearing a Star Apart »» Black Hole Discovered Tearing a Star Apart

[Wednesday, February 18, 2004] Thanks to two orbiting X-ray observatories, astronomers have the first strong evidence of a supermassive black hole ripping apart a star and consuming a portion of it.

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Next Space Station Crew Eager to Start Mission »» Next Space Station Crew Eager to Start Mission

[Thursday, February 19, 2004] The next crew to occupy the International Space Station met with reporters today in Houston. Describing himself as "an almost 8 year space rookie" astronaut Mike Fincke said "Good things come to those who wait."

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Opportunity Rover Examines Trench as Spirit Prepares to Dig One »» Opportunity Rover Examines Trench as Spirit Prepares to Dig One

[Thursday, February 19, 2004] By inspecting the sides and floor of a hole it dug on Mars, Opportunity is finding some things it did not see beforehand, including round pebbles that are shiny and soil so fine-grained that the rover's microscope can't make out individual particles.

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NASA Updates Space Shuttle Return to Flight Plans »» NASA Updates Space Shuttle Return to Flight Plans

[Thursday, February 19, 2004] Members of NASA's Space Flight Leadership Council, which is charged with the oversight of the agency's Return to Flight efforts, today moved the target window for the next flight of the Space Shuttle to March 2005.

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Planetary scientists find very large planetoid in Kuiper Belt »» Planetary scientists find very large planetoid in Kuiper Belt

[Friday, February 20, 2004] Planetary scientists at the California Institute of Technology and Yale University on Tuesday night discovered a new planetoid in the outer fringes of the solar system.

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Rosetta Spacecraft to launch; Designed to Harpoon Comet »» Rosetta Spacecraft to launch; Designed to Harpoon Comet

[Friday, February 20, 2004] The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft is scheduled to lift off on Feb. 26, 2004, at 2:16 am EST, from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America.

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Ulysses Sweeps up Dust From Jupiter »» Ulysses Sweeps up Dust From Jupiter

[Friday, February 20, 2004] In a repeat performance of its groundbreaking discovery in 1992, the DUST instrument on board Ulysses has detected streams of dust particles flowing from Jupiter during the recent second encounter with the giant planet.

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New Clues About the Nature of Dark Energy: Einstein May Have Been Right After All »» New Clues About the Nature of Dark Energy: Einstein May Have Been Right After All

[Friday, February 20, 2004] A strange form of energy called "dark energy" is looking a little more like the repulsive force that Einstein theorized in an attempt to balance the universe against its own gravity.

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NASA Mars Spirit Rover Image: 3-D View of Surrounding Terrain »» NASA Mars Spirit Rover Image: 3-D View of Surrounding Terrain

[Sunday, February 22, 2004] This 3-D anaglyph was made from several images taken by Spirit's Panoramic Camera on Sol 45. If you'd like to make these 3-D images yourself, NASA has posted some simple how-to instructions.

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How the perception of comets has changed over the centuries »» How the perception of comets has changed over the centuries

[Tuesday, February 24, 2004] Visible cometary phenomena have fascinated human beings from time immemorial - and frightened them too. Even today mystical explanations prevail among some of the Earth's peoples.

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Study moves in on why astronauts suffer bone loss »» Study moves in on why astronauts suffer bone loss

[Tuesday, February 24, 2004] A new study moves in on the physiological basis for the bone density loss experienced by people subjected to prolonged periods of bed rest and by astronauts who fly lengthy missions under the weightless conditions of space.

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Fading Supernova is Producing a Spectaular New Light Show »» Fading Supernova is Producing a Spectaular New Light Show

[Tuesday, February 24, 2004] Although the supernova SN 1987A itself is now a million times fainter than 17 years ago, a new light show in the space surrounding it is just beginning.

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Scientists Watch Movie of Neutron Star Explosion in Real Time »» Scientists Watch Movie of Neutron Star Explosion in Real Time

[Wednesday, February 25, 2004] A rare and massive explosion on a neutron star has allowed scientists to view details never seen before, virtually bringing the scientists to the action occurring just a few miles above the star's surface.

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Asteroid Impacts: Short warning times (and how to deal with them) »» Asteroid Impacts: Short warning times (and how to deal with them)

[Wednesday, February 25, 2004] This edition of NEO News deals with the mini-saga of the asteroid known last January 13-14 as AL00667. A preliminary analysis of the discovery data yielded a possible impact with Earth in less than 2 days time.

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Gravity Probe B Launch Preparations Continue »» Gravity Probe B Launch Preparations Continue

[Wednesday, February 25, 2004] The Gravity Probe B spacecraft is in NASA's Payload Processing Facility 1610 on North Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.   Preparations are on schedule for the launch, which is scheduled to occur on Saturday, April 17.

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ISS Space Walk Preparations Underway »» ISS Space Walk Preparations Underway

[Wednesday, February 25, 2004] Preparations continue for the Orlan spacewalk tomorrow.  EVA-9 will begin with DC-1 EV hatch open at 4:20pm EST, for a duration of ~5h 35min.  While outside the station, the crew will rest during three eclipses of 36 min. length each.

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ISS to receive experimental figurehead during spacewalk »» ISS to receive experimental figurehead during spacewalk

[Wednesday, February 25, 2004] What resembles the head and torso of a human and will be attached outside the International Space Station? The answer is the European Matroshka experiment facility.

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Rosetta launch delayed »» Rosetta launch delayed

[Thursday, February 26, 2004] Today's launch of Flight 158 with the Rosetta spacecraft has been put on hold for 24 hours due to weather at Europe's spaceport in French Guiana.

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Laser guide star teams with adaptive optics to shed light on massive star formation »» Laser guide star teams with adaptive optics to shed light on massive star formation

[Thursday, February 26, 2004] University of California, Berkeley, astronomers have taken advantage of a recently mounted laser guide star system at UC's Lick Observatory to obtain sharp, twinkle-free images of the faint dusty disks of distant massive stars.

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Astronomers Discover the Nearest Young Planet-forming Star »» Astronomers Discover the Nearest Young Planet-forming Star

[Thursday, February 26, 2004] A team of scientists including University of Hawaii astronomers have found the nearest example of a young planet-forming star.

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ISS Crew Completes Final EVA Preparations »» ISS Crew Completes Final EVA Preparations

[Thursday, February 26, 2004] After breakfast, Foale and Kaleri worked through a detailed list of pre-EVA closedown activities . DC-1 hatches were closed at ~2:26pm.  Inside the DC-1 Foale and Kaleri began suit donning and backpack sealing at ~2:36pm.

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Carbon found to be older than the Solar System »» Carbon found to be older than the Solar System

[Thursday, February 26, 2004] For the first time, researchers have identified organic material in interplanetary dust particles (IDPs), gathered from the Earth's stratosphere, that was made before the birth of our Solar System.

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Malfunctioning Space Suits Cuts ISS EVA Short »» Malfunctioning Space Suits Cuts ISS EVA Short

[Thursday, February 26, 2004] The ISS crew today conducted the first ever two-man spacewalk without a crewmember inside, but the planned 5 1/2 hour spacewalk was cut short by a cooling system problem with one of the two crewmembers' Russian Orlan suits.

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Launch of Rosetta on Ariane Delayed Again »» Launch of Rosetta on Ariane Delayed Again

[Friday, February 27, 2004] During final inspection of Ariane launcher V158, a minor anomaly was observed on the thermal protection of the main cryogenic stage. Required corrective actions will lead to a resumption of the countdown at the beginning of next week.

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New NASA Cassini Image of Saturn Released »» New NASA Cassini Image of Saturn Released

[Friday, February 27, 2004] This image signals the start of Cassini's final approach to Saturn and the beginning of monitoring and data collection on Saturn and its environment. This phase of the mission will continue until Cassini enters orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004.

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NEO News: Planetary Defense Conference Part 2: Mitigation Proposals »» NEO News: Planetary Defense Conference Part 2: Mitigation Proposals

[Friday, February 27, 2004] This edition of NEO News continues reporting from the AIAA Planetary Defense Conference. Focus is on mitigation, and three classes of deflection missions are considered.

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NEO News Planetary Defense Part 3: Societal Issues »» NEO News Planetary Defense Part 3: Societal Issues

[Friday, February 27, 2004] This edition of NEO News concludes notes from the AIAA Planetary Defense Conference. Focus in the final day was on political and social issues.

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Revision 1 to NASA's Implementation Plan for ISS Continuing Flight
Continuing Flight »» Revision 1 to NASA's Implementation Plan for ISS Continuing Flight Continuing Flight

[Friday, February 27, 2004] This revision reflects progress to date in responding to the applicable recommendations and observations of the CAIB, as well as additional ISS Continuous Improvement actions that have been directed by the ISS Program.

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NASA Mars Spirit Rover's Science Advances on Multiple Levels »» NASA Mars Spirit Rover's Science Advances on Multiple Levels

[Saturday, February 28, 2004] Just past the halfway point of its three-month prime mission, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has achieved several scientific firsts, but may still have its best "Eureka!" moments in front of it.

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Animation of a Sunset on Mars as Seen by NASA's Rover Opportunity »» Animation of a Sunset on Mars as Seen by NASA's Rover Opportunity

[Saturday, February 28, 2004] Dust gradually obscures the Sun during a blue-sky martian sunset seen in a sequence of newly processed frames from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

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