February 2005 Top Story Archives



Swift Sees Pinwheel Galaxy, Satellite Fully Operational »» Swift Sees Pinwheel Galaxy, Satellite Fully Operational

[Tuesday, February 1, 2005] The Swift satellite's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) has seen first light, capturing an image of the Pinwheel Galaxy, long loved by amateur astronomers as the "perfect" face-on spiral galaxy.

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Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter Mission to be Delayed »» Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter Mission to be Delayed

[Tuesday, February 1, 2005] The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) mission which was to have launched as early as 2015 will be delayed. Details will be announced Monday, February 7th during the roll out of the NASA 2006 fiscal year budget submission.

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House Science Committee Democrats Urge Administration to Preserve Hubble »» House Science Committee Democrats Urge Administration to Preserve Hubble

[Wednesday, February 2, 2005] The House Science Committee today considered the future of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).  Last year, the NASA Administrator cancelled the SM-4 Shuttle-based Hubble servicing mission. 

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Lost and Found: NASA's X-ray Telescope Locates Missing Matter »» Lost and Found: NASA's X-ray Telescope Locates Missing Matter

[Wednesday, February 2, 2005] NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has discovered two huge intergalactic clouds of diffuse hot gas. These clouds are the best evidence yet that a vast cosmic web of hot gas contains the long-sought missing matter - about half of the atoms and ions in the

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Astronomers Urge Congress to Continue Hubble Science - Johns Hopkins-led team presents new option »» Astronomers Urge Congress to Continue Hubble Science - Johns Hopkins-led team presents new option

[Wednesday, February 2, 2005] According to an international team led by Johns Hopkins University astronomers, the best answer may lie not in a robot-led or manned repair mission, but through the launch of a brand new, free-flying telescope called the "Hubble Origins Probe."

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Hubble Reveals Light Echo Three Years After Stellar Outburst »» Hubble Reveals Light Echo Three Years After Stellar Outburst

[Thursday, February 3, 2005] The Hubble telescope's latest image of the star V838 Monocerotis reveals dramatic changes in the illumination of surrounding dusty cloud structures. The effect, called a light echo, has been unveiling never-before-seen dust patterns.

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Using global warming to create conditions for life on Mars »» Using global warming to create conditions for life on Mars

[Thursday, February 3, 2005] Injecting synthetic "super" greenhouse gases into the Martian atmosphere could raise the planet's temperature enough to melt its polar ice caps and create conditions suitable for sustaining biological life.

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Arecibo's sensitive new eye begins massive sky survey - perhaps discovering that starless galaxies exist »» Arecibo's sensitive new eye begins massive sky survey - perhaps discovering that starless galaxies exist

[Thursday, February 3, 2005] Arecibo Observatory telescope, the world's largest and most sensitive single-dish radio telescope, early tomorrow morning begins a years-long survey of distant galaxies, perhaps discovering elusive "dark galaxies" - galaxies that are devoid of stars.

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Saturn's Bull's-Eye Marks its Hot Spot »» Saturn's Bull's-Eye Marks its Hot Spot

[Thursday, February 3, 2005] In the most precise reading of Saturn's temperatures ever taken from Earth, a new set of infrared images suggests a warm "polar vortex" at Saturn's south pole - the first warm polar cap ever to be discovered in the solar syste

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NASA Cassini Image: Rhea in Natural Color »» NASA Cassini Image: Rhea in Natural Color

[Friday, February 4, 2005] The trailing hemisphere of Saturn's moon Rhea seen here in natural color, displays bright, wispy terrain that is similar in appearance to that of Dione, another one of Saturn's moon.

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2nd Mars Expedition Planning Symposium - First Call for Submissions »» 2nd Mars Expedition Planning Symposium - First Call for Submissions

[Friday, February 4, 2005] The Association of Mars Explorers is sponsoring a workshop to define a 500-day Design Reference Surface Expedition Campaign for a Human Base constructed at Meridiani Planum in the year 2019.

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Publication of ESA/UK Commission of Inquiry into Beagle 2 »» Publication of ESA/UK Commission of Inquiry into Beagle 2

[Friday, February 4, 2005] The British National Space Centre has today published the report of the ESA/UK Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the circumstances and possible reasons that prevented completion of the Beagle 2 mission.

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Discovery of Pluto Reaches 75th Anniversary »» Discovery of Pluto Reaches 75th Anniversary

[Saturday, February 5, 2005] The planet Pluto turns 75 this month. Clyde Tombaugh discovered the ninth planet in the solar system on the afternoon of February 18, 1930 while he meticulously examined a pair of deep sky photographs at Lowell Observatory.

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President Asks for 2.4% Increase in NASA FY 2006 Budget »» President Asks for 2.4% Increase in NASA FY 2006 Budget

[Monday, February 7, 2005] The President is requesting a FY 2006 NASA budget of $16,456 million, an increase of 2.4% over the amount requested for FY 2005.

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Future Of Commercial Space Transportation To Be Focus Of Congressional Hearing »» Future Of Commercial Space Transportation To Be Focus Of Congressional Hearing

[Monday, February 7, 2005] The status and future of the U.S. commercial space transportation industry and the role of the Federal Aviation Administration in providing safety oversight of the industry will be topics of a Congressional oversight hearing on Wednesday.

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Astronomers Discover Beginnings of 'Mini' Solar System »» Astronomers Discover Beginnings of 'Mini' Solar System

[Monday, February 7, 2005] Moons circle planets, and planets circle stars. Now, astronomers have learned that planets may also circle celestial bodies almost as small as planets.

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Extrasolar Planets May Have Diamond Layers »» Extrasolar Planets May Have Diamond Layers

[Monday, February 7, 2005] Some extrasolar planets may be made substantially from carbon compounds, including diamond, according to a report presented this week at the conference on extrasolar planets in Aspen, Colorado.

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Scientists Announce Smallest Extrasolar Planet Yet Discovered and Find Outer Limits of the Pulsar Planetary System »» Scientists Announce Smallest Extrasolar Planet Yet Discovered and Find Outer Limits of the Pulsar Planetary System

[Monday, February 7, 2005] Penn State's Alex Wolszczan, the discoverer in 1992 of the first planets ever found outside our solar system, now has discovered with Caltech's Maciej Konacki the smallest planet yet detected, in that same far-away planetary system.

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First Stellar Outcast Discovered by Astronomers »» First Stellar Outcast Discovered by Astronomers

[Tuesday, February 8, 2005] Using the MMT Observatory in Tucson, AZ, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are the first to report the discovery of a star leaving our galaxy, speeding along at over 1.5 million miles per hour.

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Kevin Hand's Antarctic Journal 8 February 2005 »» Kevin Hand's Antarctic Journal 8 February 2005

[Tuesday, February 8, 2005] "I'm back at McMurdo Station. All went very well in the field - our instruments worked great, we collected lots of data, and had an amazing time exploring a phenomenally interesting and unique little nook on planet Earth."

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Mimas Blues »» Mimas Blues

[Tuesday, February 8, 2005] Mimas drifts along in its orbit against the azure backdrop of Saturn's northern latitudes in this true color view. The long, dark lines on the atmosphere are shadows cast by the planet's rings.

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Space Entrepreneurs Resolve To Create Industry Group to Promote Safety Standards and Growth of the Personal Spaceflight Industry »» Space Entrepreneurs Resolve To Create Industry Group to Promote Safety Standards and Growth of the Personal Spaceflight Industry

[Tuesday, February 8, 2005] Leaders from the newly emerging Personal Spaceflight Industry today announced their intent to organize an industry federation to uphold the standards and processes necessary to ensure public safety and promote growth of the personal spaceflight industry.

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First measurement of Titan's winds from Huygens »» First measurement of Titan's winds from Huygens

[Wednesday, February 9, 2005] Using a global network of radio telescopes, scientists have measured the speed of the winds faced by Huygens during its descent through the atmosphere of Titan.

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Transcript of Closing Keynote Address by James Cameron at the AIAA's First Space Exploration Conference »» Transcript of Closing Keynote Address by James Cameron at the AIAA's First Space Exploration Conference

[Wednesday, February 9, 2005] "We understand inherently in ourselves that we need to push outward. So what are we waiting for? Let's go!"

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NASA Names Two Future Space Shuttle Crews »» NASA Names Two Future Space Shuttle Crews

[Wednesday, February 9, 2005] NASA has named crews to resume training for the Space Shuttle missions designated STS-116 and 117. The missions are planned for launch to the International Space Station in 2006 to continue assembly of the orbiting laboratory.

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Simulations show how growing black holes regulate galaxy formation »» Simulations show how growing black holes regulate galaxy formation

[Wednesday, February 9, 2005] Using a new computer model of galaxy formation, researchers have shown that growing black holes release a blast of energy that fundamentally regulates galaxy evolution and black hole growth itself.

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House Transportation Committee Hearing on Commercial Space Transportation: Beyond The X Prize »» House Transportation Committee Hearing on Commercial Space Transportation: Beyond The X Prize

[Thursday, February 10, 2005] "The purpose of this hearing is to discuss the status and future of the U.S. commercial space transportation industry and the role of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in providing safety oversight of the industry."

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New theory of how planets form finds havens of stability amid turbulence »» New theory of how planets form finds havens of stability amid turbulence

[Monday, February 14, 2005] A new theory of how planets form finds havens of stability amid violent turbulence in the swirling gas that surrounds a young star. These protected areas are where planets can begin to form without being destroyed.

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Saturn's Panoramic Rings »» Saturn's Panoramic Rings

[Monday, February 14, 2005] Saturn's most prominent feature, its dazzling ring system, takes center stage in this stunning natural color mosaic which reveals the color and diversity present in this wonder of the solar system.

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Ariane 5 ECA launched »» Ariane 5 ECA launched

[Monday, February 14, 2005] The Ariane 5 ECA launcher successfully orbited two satellites on Saturday, February 12: the XTAR-EUR communications satellite for operator XTAR, and the Sloshsat scientific satellite for ESA.

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First gamma-ray bursts detected by new NASA satellite pinpointed by Carnegie and Caltech astronomers »» First gamma-ray bursts detected by new NASA satellite pinpointed by Carnegie and Caltech astronomers

[Monday, February 14, 2005] Cosmic gamma-ray bursts produce more energy in the blink of an eye, than the Sun will release in its entire lifetime. These explosions appear to be the death throes of massive stars, and, many scientists believe, mark the birth of black holes.

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Scientists Release Audio Sent by Huygens During Titan Descent »» Scientists Release Audio Sent by Huygens During Titan Descent

[Monday, February 14, 2005] Scientists have produced an audio soundbite that captures what the Cassini orbiter heard from Huygens as the probe descended on Titan on Jan. 14.

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Presentations from the NASA Robotic & Human Exploration of Mars Roadmap Committee Meeting 4-5 Jan 2005 »» Presentations from the NASA Robotic & Human Exploration of Mars Roadmap Committee Meeting 4-5 Jan 2005

[Monday, February 14, 2005] NASA Robotic & Human Exploration of Mars Roadmap Committee held its first meeting in Pasadena on 4-5 January 2005. Materials presented at that meeting are now online.

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NASA Observatory Confirms Black Hole Limits »» NASA Observatory Confirms Black Hole Limits

[Wednesday, February 16, 2005] The largest black holes reach a certain point and then grow no more. That's according to the best survey to date of black holes made with Chandra X-ray Observatory. Scientists also discovered previously hidden black holes well below their weight limit.

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NASA's Twin Mars Rovers Continue Exploration »» NASA's Twin Mars Rovers Continue Exploration

[Wednesday, February 16, 2005] The rovers successfully completed their three-month primary missions in April 2004 and are working on extended exploration missions.

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Science from Mars Express after one year in orbit »» Science from Mars Express after one year in orbit

[Thursday, February 17, 2005] After reaching its observational orbit around Mars a year ago, ESA's Mars Express has already delivered an avalanche of scientific data of unprecedented quality that have completely changed the way in which we think about the Red Planet.

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Saturn's aurora defy scientists' expectations »» Saturn's aurora defy scientists' expectations

[Thursday, February 17, 2005] The dancing light of the auroras on Saturn behaves in ways different from how scientists have thought possible for the last 25 years.

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Cassini's Radar Spots Giant Crater on Titan »» Cassini's Radar Spots Giant Crater on Titan

[Thursday, February 17, 2005] A giant impact crater the size of Iowa was spotted on Saturn's moon Titan by NASA's Cassini radar instrument during Tuesday's Titan flyby.

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NASA Statement on False Claim of Evidence of Life on Mars »» NASA Statement on False Claim of Evidence of Life on Mars

[Friday, February 18, 2005] News reports that NASA scientists from Ames Research Center have found strong evidence that life may exist on Mars are incorrect. NASA does not have any observational data from any current Mars missions that supports this claim.

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NASA Observes One of the Brightest Cosmic Explosions »» NASA Observes One of the Brightest Cosmic Explosions

[Friday, February 18, 2005] Scientists detected a flash of light from across the Galaxy so powerful; it bounced off the moon and lit up the Earth's upper atmosphere. The flash was brighter than anything ever detected from beyond our Solar System.

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Titan's Atmosphere May Have Come from Ammonia, Huygens Data Say »» Titan's Atmosphere May Have Come from Ammonia, Huygens Data Say

[Saturday, February 19, 2005] Cassini-Huygens supplied new evidence about why Titan has an atmosphere, making it unique among all solar system moons, a University of Arizona planetary scientist says.

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Mysterious Magnetar Yielding Secrets to VLA »» Mysterious Magnetar Yielding Secrets to VLA

[Sunday, February 20, 2005] Forget "Independence Day" or "War of the Worlds." A monstrous cosmic explosion last December showed that the earth is in more danger from real-life space threats than from hypothetical alien invasions.

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Global warming led to atmospheric hydrogen sulfide and Permian extinction »» Global warming led to atmospheric hydrogen sulfide and Permian extinction

[Monday, February 21, 2005] Volcanic eruptions in Siberia 251 million years ago may have started a cascade of events leading to high hydrogen sulfide levels in the oceans and atmosphere and precipitating the largest mass extinction in Earth's history.

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New theory of how planets form finds havens of stability amid turbulence »» New theory of how planets form finds havens of stability amid turbulence

[Monday, February 21, 2005] A new theory of how planets form finds havens of stability amid violent turbulence in the swirling gas that surrounds a young star. These protected areas are where planets can begin to form without being destroyed.

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New telescope looks at early universe »» New telescope looks at early universe

[Monday, February 21, 2005] A new telescope at South Pole Station is just weeks away from probing the universe. DASI made headlines when it became the first to detect temperature differences and later polarization in the background radiation left over from the Big Bang.

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NASA Opportunity Mars Rover Self-Portrait »» NASA Opportunity Mars Rover Self-Portrait

[Tuesday, February 22, 2005] NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera to take the images combined into this mosaic view of the rover. The downward-looking view omits the mast on which the camera is mounted.

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NASA Spirit Mars Rover Self-Portrait »» NASA Spirit Mars Rover Self-Portrait

[Tuesday, February 22, 2005] NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit used its panoramic camera to take the images combined into this mosaic view of the rover. The downward-looking view omits the mast on which the camera is mounted. It shows dust accumulation on Spirit's solar panels.

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NASA Cassini Image: Dione Eclipses Tethys as Seen From Cassini »» NASA Cassini Image: Dione Eclipses Tethys as Seen From Cassini

[Tuesday, February 22, 2005] This image was taken on February 20, 2005 and received on Earth February 21, 2005. The camera was pointing toward Dione [with Tethys behind Dione] at approximately 1,497,164 kilometers away

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NASA Spitzer Space Telescope Provides Visual Feast Online »» NASA Spitzer Space Telescope Provides Visual Feast Online

[Tuesday, February 22, 2005] Recent Spitzer discoveries include details about the chaotic planet-forming process around stars; a faint, star-like object in an area previously believed to be star-free; and a star system that may harbor the youngest planet ever found.

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Frozen sea discovered near Martian equator from 3D images of Mars Express »» Frozen sea discovered near Martian equator from 3D images of Mars Express

[Tuesday, February 22, 2005] The discovery, by an international team of scientists of a frozen sea close to the equator of Mars has brought the possibility of finding life on Mars one step closer.

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Solar Tadpoles Wave at Astrophysicists »» Solar Tadpoles Wave at Astrophysicists

[Wednesday, February 23, 2005] Researchers at the University of Warwick have gained insight into the mysterious giant dark tadpoles that appear to swim towards the surface of the Sun during solar flares - enormous energy releases happening in the atmosphere of the Sun.

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Seeing the invisible - first dark galaxy discovered? »» Seeing the invisible - first dark galaxy discovered?

[Thursday, February 24, 2005] A British-led team of astronomers have discovered an object that appears to be an invisible galaxy made almost entirely of dark matter - the first ever detected.

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NEO News (02/23/05) Impacts at the AAAS »» NEO News (02/23/05) Impacts at the AAAS

[Thursday, February 24, 2005] Update on 2004 MN4: Since we last reported on this 400-m NEA (on 01/27/05), new radar observations have further refined the orbit and shifted it closer to the Earth at its 2029 pass.

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NASA Cassini Image: Janus Backlit by Saturn »» NASA Cassini Image: Janus Backlit by Saturn

[Thursday, February 24, 2005] This image was taken on February 23, 2005 and received on Earth February 24, 2005. The camera was pointing toward Janus.

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Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Flight Test Successful »» Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Flight Test Successful

[Thursday, February 24, 2005] An interceptor missile launched from the U.S. Navy Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie successfully intercepted and destroyed a short-range target missile launched from the Hawaiian island of Kauai. This is the fifth successful intercept in six tests.

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Perchlorate found in dairy and breast milk samples from across the country »» Perchlorate found in dairy and breast milk samples from across the country

[Thursday, February 24, 2005] Perchlorate occurs naturally and is also a primary ingredient in solid rocket fuel. The chemical, which has been showing up in many segments of the environment, can interfere with iodide uptake in the thyroid gland.

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NASA Cassini Image:  The Greatest Saturn Portrait...Yet »» NASA Cassini Image: The Greatest Saturn Portrait...Yet

[Friday, February 25, 2005] This grand mosaic consists of 126 images acquired in a tile-like fashion, covering one end of Saturn's rings to the other and the entire planet in between.

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Rings and More Rings »» Rings and More Rings

[Friday, February 25, 2005] Cassini images have revealed the presence of previously unseen faint rings in some of the gaps in Saturn's rings -- possible indicators of small yet-unseen moons.

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The Dragon Storm »» The Dragon Storm

[Friday, February 25, 2005] A large, bright and complex convective storm that appeared in Saturn's southern hemisphere in mid-September 2004 was the key in solving a long-standing mystery about the ringed planet.

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Cassini Captures First-Ever Photographs of Saturn's Radiation Belts »» Cassini Captures First-Ever Photographs of Saturn's Radiation Belts

[Saturday, February 26, 2005] Using an innovative camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft, scientists have captured images of a radiation belt inside the rings of Saturn and have the clearest picture yet of the planet's giant magnetosphere.

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Amateur watchers invited to 'Rosetta Up Close' photo contest »» Amateur watchers invited to 'Rosetta Up Close' photo contest

[Monday, February 28, 2005] Rosetta's Earth fly-by on 4 March at just 1900 kilometres, will provide a fantastic photo opportunity. The 'Rosetta Up Close' photo contest will recognize and reward the best images and sky watchers everywhere are invited to participate.

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Progress M-52 Heads for ISS »» Progress M-52 Heads for ISS

[Monday, February 28, 2005] Progress M-52 (17P) launched on time (2:09pm EST) with resupply from Baikonur/Kasakhstan.  After normal separation of the first, second and third stage of the Soyuz-U rocket, antennas and solar arrays were nominally deployed at orbit insertion (2:18pm).

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