February 2006 Top Story Archives



An Empty Spacesuit Becomes an Orbital Experiment »» An Empty Spacesuit Becomes an Orbital Experiment

[Wednesday, February 1, 2006] One of the strangest satellites in the history of the space age is about to go into orbit. Launch date: Feb. 3rd. That's when astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) will hurl an empty spacesuit overboard.

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Demonstrator proves a big structure can fit snugly into a typical rocket body »» Demonstrator proves a big structure can fit snugly into a typical rocket body

[Wednesday, February 1, 2006] The USAF Space Vehicles Directorate's research on the deployable optical telescope validates the placement of a large system in a standard launch vehicle to ultimately provide enhanced imagery to the joint warfighter.

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New »» New "Planet" Is Larger than Pluto

[Wednesday, February 1, 2006] By measuring its thermal emission, the scientists were able to determine a diameter of about 3000 km, which makes it 700 km larger than Pluto and thereby marks it as the largest solar system object found since the discovery of Neptune in 1846.

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Path to Finding Life on Mars and in Outer Space Begins By Looking at Earth's Inner Space »» Path to Finding Life on Mars and in Outer Space Begins By Looking at Earth's Inner Space

[Wednesday, February 1, 2006] Clues to finding current or past life on Mars begins with an examination of Earth's most extreme environments according to a group of researchers launching an international broadcast science expedition January 30, 2006 with The JASON Project.

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HHMI Undergraduate Researcher Turns Up the Heat on Hibernation »» HHMI Undergraduate Researcher Turns Up the Heat on Hibernation

[Wednesday, February 1, 2006] If doctors could put people in hibernation and pull them out at will, scientists think they could help recipients' bodies accept transplanted organs, perhaps even enable astronauts to travel in suspended animation until reaching distant destinations.

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Trojan Asteroid Patroclus: Comet in Disguise? »» Trojan Asteroid Patroclus: Comet in Disguise?

[Wednesday, February 1, 2006] Observations of the binary Trojan asteroid Patroclus have astronomers wondering if asteroids caught in the gravitationally neutral zone of the Sun-Jupiter system might actually be ancient comets and space dust.

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Life leaves subtle signature in the lay of the land »» Life leaves subtle signature in the lay of the land

[Wednesday, February 1, 2006] One of the paradoxes of recent explorations of the Martian surface is that the more we see of the planet, the more it looks like Earth.

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Dust Found in Earth Sediment Traced to Breakup of the Asteroid  Veritas 8.2 Million Years Ago »» Dust Found in Earth Sediment Traced to Breakup of the Asteroid Veritas 8.2 Million Years Ago

[Wednesday, February 1, 2006] In a new study that provides a novel way of looking at our solar system's past, a group of planetary scientists and geochemists announce that they have found evidence on Earth of an asteroid breakup or collision that occurred 8.2 million years ago.

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NASA's 'Deep Impact' Team Reports First Evidence of Cometary Ice »» NASA's 'Deep Impact' Team Reports First Evidence of Cometary Ice

[Thursday, February 2, 2006] Comet Tempel 1, target of last year's July 4 cosmic collision, contains small amounts of surface water ice. Reported in Science by members of NASA's Deep Impact mission, this finding marks the first evidence of surface ice on any comet.

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NASA Internal Memo: Message From the Administrator - Scientific Openness »» NASA Internal Memo: Message From the Administrator - Scientific Openness

[Friday, February 3, 2006] "I want to make sure that NASA employees hear directly from me on how I view the issue of scientific openness and the role of public affairs within the agency."

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Spacehab Files Court Complaint for Losses On Space Shuttle Mission »» Spacehab Files Court Complaint for Losses On Space Shuttle Mission

[Friday, February 3, 2006] Spacehab announced today that it is filing a civil complaint against NASA with the United States District Court in Houston, Texas for loss and damages suffered during the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy in February 2003.

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Space Station Status Report 3 February 2006 »» Space Station Status Report 3 February 2006

[Saturday, February 4, 2006] Space station crew members released SuitSat during the second spacewalk of their mission last night. SuitSat faintly transmitted recorded voices of schoolchildren to amateur radio operators worldwide for a brief period before it ceased sending signals.

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NASA's Real Right Stuff - A Review of »» NASA's Real Right Stuff - A Review of "Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut" by Mike Mullane

[Sunday, February 5, 2006] "While many astronaut biographies are well crafted - with vibrant, riveting descriptions of life off world, Mullane's book distinguishes itself in this genre by focusing on all aspects of being an astronaut. Let me make that clear - ALL aspects."

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Study suggests steps a planet must go through for complex animal life to arise »» Study suggests steps a planet must go through for complex animal life to arise

[Sunday, February 5, 2006] A sudden increase in oxygen in the Earth's recent geological history, widely considered necessary for the expansion of animal life, occurred just as the rate of clay formation on the Earth's surface also increased

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NASA's New Budget: Treading Water »» NASA's New Budget: Treading Water

[Monday, February 6, 2006] Today, NASA will unveil the Fiscal Year 2007 budget request that the White House will be submitting to Congress. While NASA will get an increase over the FY 2006 budget - the increase is only 1%.

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NASA Administrator Mike Griffin's Statement About the FY 2007 Budget »» NASA Administrator Mike Griffin's Statement About the FY 2007 Budget

[Monday, February 6, 2006] "This morning, the President announced the Fiscal Year 2007 budget request for the entire federal government. This includes a $16.8 billion request for NASA, which represents a 3.2 percent increase over the 2006 budget appropriated for NASA."

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NASA Request for Information: Venture Capital Project ( »» NASA Request for Information: Venture Capital Project ("Red Planet Capital")

[Monday, February 6, 2006] In order for NASA to specifically focus on entrepreneurial innovation in support of its mission objectives, the Agency has laid the foundation for a private equity investment vehicle (working name "Red Planet Capital") aimed at early-stage companies.

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Planetary Society Charges Administration with Blurring its Vision for Space Exploration »» Planetary Society Charges Administration with Blurring its Vision for Space Exploration

[Monday, February 6, 2006] The NASA Budget released today shortchanges space science in order to fund 17 projected space shuttle flights. It seriously damages the hugely productive and successful robotic exploration of our solar system and beyond.

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NASA Mars Picture of the Day: Arsia & Phobos »» NASA Mars Picture of the Day: Arsia & Phobos

[Monday, February 6, 2006] This pair of Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) color images shows early autumn clouds over the Arsia Mons volcano, plus the shadow of the innermost of the two martain moons, Phobos.

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Request for National Science Foundation Fiscal Year 2007 Is $6.02 Billion »» Request for National Science Foundation Fiscal Year 2007 Is $6.02 Billion

[Monday, February 6, 2006] The President's budget for fiscal year 2007 requests $6.02 billion for the National Science Foundation--an increase of $439 million or 7.9 percent over fiscal year 2006. The increase reflects a 10-year budget-doubling effort for NSF and other agencies.

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Canceling NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder: The White House's Increasingly Nearsighted »» Canceling NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder: The White House's Increasingly Nearsighted "Vision" For Space Exploration

[Monday, February 6, 2006] According to NASA's FY 2007 budget documentation "The Terrestrial Planet Finding project (TPF) has been deferred indefinitely." In other words, it is dead. NASA is just afraid to say so.

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Hubble Space Telescope Snaps Images of a Pinwheel-shaped Galaxy »» Hubble Space Telescope Snaps Images of a Pinwheel-shaped Galaxy

[Tuesday, February 7, 2006] Looking like a child's pinwheel ready to be set a spinning by a gentle breeze, this dramatic spiral galaxy is one of the latest viewed by Hubble. Stunning details of the face-on spiral galaxy, cataloged as NGC 1309, are captured in this color image.

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NASA's Centennial Challenges Program Seeks Input On New Prize Competitions »» NASA's Centennial Challenges Program Seeks Input On New Prize Competitions

[Tuesday, February 7, 2006] NASA's Centennial Challenges Program released today draft rules for six new prize competitions. NASA is seeking external comments and collaborating organizations in order to finalize and initiate these Challenges.

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Steve Fossett and the GlobalFlyer Depart From NASA's Kennedy Space Center Runway »» Steve Fossett and the GlobalFlyer Depart From NASA's Kennedy Space Center Runway

[Wednesday, February 8, 2006] The Virgin Atlantic Airways GlobalFlyer aircraft took off today from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility, Fla., at 7:22 a.m. EST. The effort is an attempt to set a new world record for the longest flight made by any aircraft.

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How to Steal a Million Stars? VLT Study Reveals Troubled Past of Globular Cluster Messier 12 »» How to Steal a Million Stars? VLT Study Reveals Troubled Past of Globular Cluster Messier 12

[Wednesday, February 8, 2006] Based on observations with ESO's Very Large Telescope, a team of Italian astronomers reports that the stellar cluster Messier 12 must have lost to our Milky Way galaxy close to one million low-mass stars.

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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is on the Approach »» Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is on the Approach

[Wednesday, February 8, 2006] NASA's next martian orbiter has gotten one step closer to the red planet with the transition from cruise phase to approach phase.

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Tiny Star's Clues to Climate Change »» Tiny Star's Clues to Climate Change

[Wednesday, February 8, 2006] New investigations of a tiny star in the constellation of Pegasus have provided a novel insight into the Sun and its potential impact on Earth.

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NASA's Spitzer Uncovers Hints of Mega Solar Systems »» NASA's Spitzer Uncovers Hints of Mega Solar Systems

[Wednesday, February 8, 2006] NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has identified two huge "hypergiant" stars circled by monstrous disks of what might be planet-forming dust. The findings surprised astronomers because stars as big as these were thought to be inhospitable to planets.

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Unique in-flight upgrade for XMM ground systems »» Unique in-flight upgrade for XMM ground systems

[Thursday, February 9, 2006] In December 2005, ESA's highly successful XMM-Newton mission was formally given a four-year extension. The longer life necessitated a first-ever in-flight upgrade to the spacecraft's mission control software.

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NASA Preparing Oxygen Generation System for Space Station »» NASA Preparing Oxygen Generation System for Space Station

[Thursday, February 9, 2006] NASA is preparing to launch an oxygen generation system to the ISS. The system uses water to generate breathable oxygen for crew members. Life support systems like this are necessary to support future long-duration missions to the moon, Mars and beyond.

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Ancient Impacts Scarred Moon to its Core, May Have Created »» Ancient Impacts Scarred Moon to its Core, May Have Created "Man in the Moon"

[Thursday, February 9, 2006] Ohio State University planetary scientists have found the remains of ancient lunar impacts that may have helped create the surface feature commonly called the "man in the moon."

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Remarks to the National Space Club by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin »» Remarks to the National Space Club by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin

[Friday, February 10, 2006] "But even with the increase we have received, I recognize that no one is getting everything they want from this budget for NASA. We simply will not be able to do everything, right now, that many in the space community may want us to do."

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Peeking behind the veil of Venus »» Peeking behind the veil of Venus

[Friday, February 10, 2006] Venus is best known for the thick layers of clouds that veil its surface from view by telescopes on Earth. But the veil has holes, and a scientist plans on using a solar telescope to peer through them to study the weather on Venus.

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RAVE Collaboration: Clues to Evolution of Milky Way »» RAVE Collaboration: Clues to Evolution of Milky Way

[Friday, February 10, 2006] Fossil remains from the infant Universe are in our own Galactic backyard, in the form of Milky Way stars that were born a long time ago, possibly even in a different galaxy.

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NASA FY 2006 Operating Plan and Transmittal Letter »» NASA FY 2006 Operating Plan and Transmittal Letter

[Friday, February 10, 2006] "The purpose of this letter is to submit to the Committee NASA's Initial FY 2006 Operating Plan in accordance with the agreements between NASA and the Committee, and to provide an update to the FY 2005 Operating Plan."

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Falcon 1 Maiden Flight Update 10 February 2006 »» Falcon 1 Maiden Flight Update 10 February 2006

[Saturday, February 11, 2006] "We were very happy to be able to execute a flight countdown all the way to lighting the engine. Although there wasn't a launch this time, we made a lot of progress refining the rocket and launch pad -- all work that needed to be done anyway."

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NASA Image of SuitSat in Space »» NASA Image of SuitSat in Space

[Saturday, February 11, 2006] Backdropped by the blackness of space and Earth's horizon, a spacesuit-turned-satellite called SuitSat began its orbit around the Earth after it was released by the Expedition 12 crewmembers during an EVA on Feb. 3, 2006.

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NASA New Horizons Mission: The PI's Perspective: Tom's Cruise »» NASA New Horizons Mission: The PI's Perspective: Tom's Cruise

[Saturday, February 11, 2006] New Horizons continues to do well in flight - three weeks down and 492 to go. With more than 99% of the journey to the Pluto system still ahead of us, you might say we are just beginning - and we are.

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An Infrared Movie of Titan »» An Infrared Movie of Titan

[Sunday, February 12, 2006] These false-color images were taken at wavelengths of 1.6 microns shown in blue, 2.01 microns in green and 5 microns in red.

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Mars Exploration Rover Spirit Update 10 February 2006 »» Mars Exploration Rover Spirit Update 10 February 2006

[Sunday, February 12, 2006] After several months of driving, Spirit finally reached the semicircular geologic feature dubbed "Home Plate" in Gusev Crater.

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NASA & Olympic Athletes Plan Lunar Games »» NASA & Olympic Athletes Plan Lunar Games

[Sunday, February 12, 2006] With the help of several Olympic athletes, students can get a physics lesson from NASA about potential winter sports on the most extreme venue around -- the moon.

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Still-Forming Solar System May Have Planets  Orbiting Star in Opposite Directions »» Still-Forming Solar System May Have Planets Orbiting Star in Opposite Directions

[Monday, February 13, 2006] Astronomers studying a disk of material circling a still-forming star inside our Galaxy have found a tantalizing result -- the inner part of the disk is orbiting the protostar in the opposite direction from the outer part of the disk.

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LiftPort Group Completes Second Round of Tests of Its Space Elevator Technology under FAA Waiver »» LiftPort Group Completes Second Round of Tests of Its Space Elevator Technology under FAA Waiver

[Monday, February 13, 2006] LiftPort Group, the space elevator companies, today announced that it has successfully completed its second round of preliminary tests of its high altitude platform and robotic lifters.

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NASA's Newest Explorers Become Astronauts »» NASA's Newest Explorers Become Astronauts

[Tuesday, February 14, 2006] After 18 months of training, NASA's astronaut candidates now are officially astronauts. The class of 11, including three educator astronauts selected from teachers across the nation, received NASA Astronaut pins in a graduation ceremony Friday.

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Titanic Complexity (Color) »» Titanic Complexity (Color)

[Wednesday, February 15, 2006] This view of Titan reveals structure in the moon's complex atmosphere. The geometry of the Cassini spacecraft's view of Titan during this flyby was similar to that of Voyager 1's pass in 1980.

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Smooth Surface of Telesto »» Smooth Surface of Telesto

[Wednesday, February 15, 2006] The Cassini spacecraft passed within a cosmic stone's throw of Telesto in October, 2005 capturing this shot of the tiny Trojan moon.

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Letter from Nobel Laureate Baruch Blumberg and SETI Institute CEO Thomas Pierson Regarding Proposed Astrobiology Cuts »» Letter from Nobel Laureate Baruch Blumberg and SETI Institute CEO Thomas Pierson Regarding Proposed Astrobiology Cuts

[Wednesday, February 15, 2006] "Although many of us consider astrobiology to be the primary science of the President's Vision for Space Exploratio, this is not reflected in the FY 2007 budget proposal."

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House Science Committee Hearing Charter: NASA's FY 2007 Budget Proposal »» House Science Committee Hearing Charter: NASA's FY 2007 Budget Proposal

[Wednesday, February 15, 2006] NASA's overall proposed budget for FY07 is $16.8 billion, an increase of 1 percent from the FY06 appropriated budget, or up 3.2 percent if one excludes the hurricane emergency supplemental funding ($350 million) from the FY06 base.

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ELMS White Paper: Comment and Endorsement of the NRC »» ELMS White Paper: Comment and Endorsement of the NRC "Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station"

[Thursday, February 16, 2006] The NRC found that the revised activities and priorities for ISS negate the initial intent of the ISS, reduce its the ability to advance technology, and preclude its use to develop mitigations for space-based risks to human health and performance.

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Distant inferno: Cornell astronomer finds galaxies that contain massive young stars in compact, cosmic globs »» Distant inferno: Cornell astronomer finds galaxies that contain massive young stars in compact, cosmic globs

[Thursday, February 16, 2006] Cornell researchers using the Spitzer Space Telescope say distant galaxies contain an inferno of very young, massive and violently evolving stars, packed together in tiny but extremely powerful cosmic globs.

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NASA's Spitzer Finds Violent Galaxies Smothered in 'Crushed Glass' »» NASA's Spitzer Finds Violent Galaxies Smothered in 'Crushed Glass'

[Thursday, February 16, 2006] NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has observed a rare population of colliding galaxies whose entangled hearts are wrapped in tiny crystals resembling crushed glass.

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Statement of NASA Administrator Griffin before the House Committee on Science »» Statement of NASA Administrator Griffin before the House Committee on Science

[Thursday, February 16, 2006] "Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to appear today to discuss NASA's plans as represented in the President's FY 2007 budget request for NASA."

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Greenland Ice Loss Doubles in Past Decade, Raising Sea Level Faster »» Greenland Ice Loss Doubles in Past Decade, Raising Sea Level Faster

[Thursday, February 16, 2006] The loss of ice from Greenland doubled between 1996 and 2005, as its glaciers flowed faster into the ocean in response to a generally warmer climate, according to a NASA/University of Kansas study.

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Image data acquired by PRISM onboard the »» Image data acquired by PRISM onboard the "Daichi"

[Thursday, February 16, 2006] "JAXA would like to announce that image data was successfully acquired by the Panchromatic Remote- sensing Instrument for Stereo Mapping (PRISM) onboard the Advanced Land Observing Satellite "Daichi"

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NASA's Lunar Orbiter Team Passes Preliminary Design Review »» NASA's Lunar Orbiter Team Passes Preliminary Design Review

[Friday, February 17, 2006] The first in a series of robotic missions to the moon, the lunar orbiter is scheduled for launch in October 2008. It will carry six science instruments and a technology demonstration.

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Captain Kirk's clone and the eavesdropper »» Captain Kirk's clone and the eavesdropper

[Friday, February 17, 2006] Imagine Captain Kirk being beamed back to the Starship Enterprise and two versions of the Star Trek hero arriving in the spacecraft's transporter room.

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U of M researcher simluate characteristics of planetary cores »» U of M researcher simluate characteristics of planetary cores

[Saturday, February 18, 2006] Researchers have modeled the properties of rocks at the temperatures and pressures likely to exist at the cores of Jupiter, Saturn and two exoplanets far from the solar system.

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Search for alien life challenges current concepts »» Search for alien life challenges current concepts

[Saturday, February 18, 2006] For scientists eying distant planets and solar systems for signs of alien activity, University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Carol Cleland suggests the first order of business is to keep an open mind.

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Astronomer announces shortlist of stellar candidates for habitable worlds »» Astronomer announces shortlist of stellar candidates for habitable worlds

[Saturday, February 18, 2006] In the search for life on other worlds, scientists can listen for radio transmissions from stellar neighborhoods where intelligent civilizations might lurk or they can try to actually spot planets like our own in habitable zones around nearby stars.

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New theory resolves mystery of anomalous cosmic rays »» New theory resolves mystery of anomalous cosmic rays

[Saturday, February 18, 2006] When Voyager 1 finally crossed the termination shock at the edge of interstellar space, space physicists anticipated the discovery of the source of anomalous cosmic rays. A mystery unfolded instead when Voyager data showed predictions to be wrong.

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Interplanetary dust particles: reproducing GEMS-like structure in the laboratory »» Interplanetary dust particles: reproducing GEMS-like structure in the laboratory

[Saturday, February 18, 2006] For the first time, scientists were able to reproduce the structure of the exotic GEMS (glass with embedded metal and sulphides) in the laboratory. GEMS is a major component of primitive interplanetary dust.

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Collaboration is key to Antarctic Dry Valleys work »» Collaboration is key to Antarctic Dry Valleys work

[Sunday, February 19, 2006] The Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Project is made up of seven separate field groups that work cooperatively to better understand the area's unique ecosystem. It's a textbook example of an interdisciplinary approach to research.

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NSF soliciting for International Polar Year science proposals »» NSF soliciting for International Polar Year science proposals

[Sunday, February 19, 2006] The last time the US celebrated an International Polar Year, it joined 67 nations in concentrated polar research. In March 2007 the worldwide scientific community will again unite to further its understanding of the vital polar systems.

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Rare gamma-ray flare from a distant star disturbs Earth's daytime ionosphere »» Rare gamma-ray flare from a distant star disturbs Earth's daytime ionosphere

[Sunday, February 19, 2006] On Dec. 27, 2004, scientists detected the largest gamma-ray burst ever recorded -50,000 light years away. Its powerful rays penetrated deep into the ionosphere, the electrically conductive layer encircling Earth.

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Amateur Astronomers Make First Sighting of 10th Planet Through Eyepiece of McDonald Observatory Telescope »» Amateur Astronomers Make First Sighting of 10th Planet Through Eyepiece of McDonald Observatory Telescope

[Monday, February 20, 2006] A group of amateur astronomers has used the 2.1-meter Otto Struve Telescope at McDonald Observatory to make the first "through-the- Eyepiece" sighting of so-called the tenth planet, an object orbiting the Sun in the Kuiper Belt, far beyond Pluto.

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Mars Express studies possible aurorae above Mars »» Mars Express studies possible aurorae above Mars

[Monday, February 20, 2006] ESA's Mars Express spacecraft has seen more evidence that aurorae occur over the night side of Mars, especially over areas of the surface where variations in the magnetic properties of the crust have been detected.

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Oceans may soon be more corrosive than when the dinosaurs died »» Oceans may soon be more corrosive than when the dinosaurs died

[Monday, February 20, 2006] Increased carbon dioxide emissions are rapidly making the world's oceans more acidic and, if unabated, could cause a mass extinction of marine life similar to one that occurred 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared.

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New Study Questions the Effects of Cosmic Proton Radiation on Human Cells »» New Study Questions the Effects of Cosmic Proton Radiation on Human Cells

[Monday, February 20, 2006] In deep space, protons are the most abundant type of charged particle. Therefore, before astronauts can safely travel far from Earth for long periods of time, it is important to know how protons affect cells - particularly the cells' DNA.

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Stardust Factory Solves 25-Year Old Mystery of Impossible Dust »» Stardust Factory Solves 25-Year Old Mystery of Impossible Dust

[Tuesday, February 21, 2006] Researchers using a "stardust factory" at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., have solved a mystery of how dying stars make silicate dust at high temperatures.

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NASA's Spitzer Makes Hot Alien World the Closest Directly Detected »» NASA's Spitzer Makes Hot Alien World the Closest Directly Detected

[Tuesday, February 21, 2006] A NASA-led team of astronomers have used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to detect a strong flow of heat radiation from a toasty planet orbiting a nearby star. The findings allowed the team to "take the temperature" of the planet.

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Giant Impact Gives Birth to Pluto's Moons and Possibbly Forms Debris Rings »» Giant Impact Gives Birth to Pluto's Moons and Possibbly Forms Debris Rings

[Wednesday, February 22, 2006] In a paper published today, a team of scientists led by Dr. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, concludes that two newly discovered moons of Pluto were likely born in the same giant impact that gave birth to Pluto's much larger moon, Charon.

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Radiation Safe Zone Migrates With Solar Cycle »» Radiation Safe Zone Migrates With Solar Cycle

[Wednesday, February 22, 2006] A "safe zone" in the radiation belts surrounding Earth moves higher in altitude and latitude during peaks in solar activity, according to new research by a NASA-led team.

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First Light for Laser Guide Star at Very Large Telescope »» First Light for Laser Guide Star at Very Large Telescope

[Thursday, February 23, 2006] Scientists celebrate another major milestone at Cerro Paranal in Chile, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope array. Thanks to their dedicated efforts, they were able to create the first artificial star in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Researchers Describe Discovery of Pluto's New Moons »» Researchers Describe Discovery of Pluto's New Moons

[Thursday, February 23, 2006] In the Feb. 23 issue of the journal Nature, a team describes its discovery of two new moons around Pluto – a finding that made the ninth planet the first Kuiper Belt object known to have multiple satellites.

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Scientists discover Mars' atmosphere altered by solar flares »» Scientists discover Mars' atmosphere altered by solar flares

[Thursday, February 23, 2006] Boston University astronomers announced today the first clear evidence that solar flares change the upper atmosphere of Mars.

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NASA MESSENGER Lines Up for Venus Flyby »» NASA MESSENGER Lines Up for Venus Flyby

[Friday, February 24, 2006] A short-duration maneuver placed the spacecraft on track for its next major mission event: the first Venus flyby on October 24, 2006.

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Texas State research sheds new light on panspermia »» Texas State research sheds new light on panspermia

[Friday, February 24, 2006] Panspermia is the idea that life--hitchhiking on rocks ejected from meteorite impacts on one world--could travel through space and seed other worlds with life under favorable conditions.

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Martian Gardens »» Martian Gardens

[Friday, February 24, 2006] There are plenty of harsh environments for life here on Earth. But when it comes to environmental stress, Mars has a corner on the market.

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Scientists Detect New Kind of Cosmic Explosion »» Scientists Detect New Kind of Cosmic Explosion

[Friday, February 24, 2006] Scientists using NASA's Swift satellite have detected a new kind of cosmic explosion. The event appears to be a precursor to a supernova, which is expected to reach peak brightness in one week.

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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Nears Red Planet Rendezvous »» Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Nears Red Planet Rendezvous

[Friday, February 24, 2006] NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is nearing a crucial milestone. The spacecraft is preparing to slow itself to allow the red planet's gravity to grab it into orbit on March 10.

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NASA Ships External Fuel Tank for Next Space Shuttle Mission »» NASA Ships External Fuel Tank for Next Space Shuttle Mission

[Friday, February 24, 2006] In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, workers at the nearby NASA Michoud Assembly Facility persevered through their own personal hardships to deliver a newly designed external fuel tank for the space shuttle.

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NASA's Venerable FUSE Ultraviolet Satellite Returns to Operations »» NASA's Venerable FUSE Ultraviolet Satellite Returns to Operations

[Friday, February 24, 2006] NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer astronomy satellite is back in full operation, its aging onboard software control system extended by enterprising scientists and engineers after a near-death experience in December 2004.

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ESA Mars Express Image: Ausonia Mensa Remnant Massif »» ESA Mars Express Image: Ausonia Mensa Remnant Massif

[Saturday, February 25, 2006] These images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board Mars Express, show the Ausonia Mensa massif on Mars. The HRSC obtained these images during orbit 506 with a ground resolution of approximately 37.6 metres per pixel.

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First long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut onboard the ISS »» First long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut onboard the ISS

[Saturday, February 25, 2006] ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter from Germany will soon become the first European to undertake a long-duration mission onboard the International Space Station (ISS) following his dispatch on the next Shuttle mission (STS-121), currently scheduled for May.

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NASA Flight Assignment Working Group (FAWG) Space Shuttle Planning Manifest 24 Feb 2006 »» NASA Flight Assignment Working Group (FAWG) Space Shuttle Planning Manifest 24 Feb 2006

[Saturday, February 25, 2006] NASA has published its latest update to its internal long range planning forecast for the remaining flights of America's Space Shuttle fleet - the last of which is STS-133 which is planned for launch in 2009.

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Images of Leyte Island Observed  by the PALSAR onboard the »» Images of Leyte Island Observed by the PALSAR onboard the "Daichi"

[Sunday, February 26, 2006] JAXA has acquired images of Leyte Island where a huge landslide occurred on February 17, by the Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) onboard the Advanced Land Observing Satellite "Daichi."

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Rhea's Wisps in Color »» Rhea's Wisps in Color

[Sunday, February 26, 2006] Bright, wispy markings stretch across a region of darker terrain on Rhea. In this extreme false-color view, the roughly north-south fractures occur within strips of material that are a different color from the surrounding cratered landscape.

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Fresh Features on Enceladus (False color) »» Fresh Features on Enceladus (False color)

[Sunday, February 26, 2006] The now-familiar bluish appearance (in false color views) of the southern "tiger stripe" features and other relatively youthful fractures is almost certainly attributable to larger grain sizes of relatively pure ice, compared to most surface materials.

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NASA Internal Charts: ESAS Update: Accelerating Lunar Missions aka »» NASA Internal Charts: ESAS Update: Accelerating Lunar Missions aka "Lunar Sooner"

[Monday, February 27, 2006] "NASA's original ESAS focus was to enable both the ISS and lunar missions while enabling extensibility to Mars. After further analysis, NASA has elected to alter the architectural baseline."

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Element 21 Golf Company's Message Is Out of This World! »» Element 21 Golf Company's Message Is Out of This World!

[Monday, February 27, 2006] TORONTO -- Element 21 Golf Company today [9 Feb 2006] reported on its plans to drive a golf ball into orbit around the Earth.

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NASA new Horizons Mission: The PI's Perspective: Boulder and Baltimore »» NASA new Horizons Mission: The PI's Perspective: Boulder and Baltimore

[Monday, February 27, 2006] "Last week, details of discoveries of Pluto's two small moons were published in a pair of papers in the scientific journal Nature. Nature is very much the Rolling Stone of the scientific community, and the discovery won the cover of Nature."

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Cepheids and their 'Cocoons' Interferometry Helps Discover Envelopes Around Supergiant Stars »» Cepheids and their 'Cocoons' Interferometry Helps Discover Envelopes Around Supergiant Stars

[Tuesday, February 28, 2006] Using ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer at Cerro Paranal, Chile, and the CHARA Interferometer at Mount Wilson, California, a team of astronomers has discovered envelopes around three Cepheids, including the Pole star.

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Andromeda's Stellar Halo Shows Galaxy's Origin to Be Similar to That of Milky Way »» Andromeda's Stellar Halo Shows Galaxy's Origin to Be Similar to That of Milky Way

[Tuesday, February 28, 2006] For the last decade, astronomers have thought that the Andromeda galaxy was rather different from the Milky Way. But a group of researchers have determined that the two galaxies are probably quite similar in the way they evolved.

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U.S., Europe take steps to advance polar satellite cooperation »» U.S., Europe take steps to advance polar satellite cooperation

[Tuesday, February 28, 2006] NOAA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites today announced they have signed a Data Denial Implementation Plan, which secures the continued flow of real-time meteorological satellite data.

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Looking for responsive, low-cost space lift »» Looking for responsive, low-cost space lift

[Tuesday, February 28, 2006] An office comprised of two personnel seeks to save the Air Force millions of dollars in lift off costs by demonstrating innovative launch vehicle concepts to perform the critical, initial portion of spaceflight.

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Optical Device Cancels Starlight So Astronomers Can See Distant Planets »» Optical Device Cancels Starlight So Astronomers Can See Distant Planets

[Tuesday, February 28, 2006] Grover Swartzlander, an associate professor in The University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, is developing devices that block out dazzling starlight, allowing astronomers to study planets in nearby solar systems.

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Photo release: Largest ever galaxy portrait - stunning HD image of Pinwheel Galaxy »» Photo release: Largest ever galaxy portrait - stunning HD image of Pinwheel Galaxy

[Tuesday, February 28, 2006] This Hubble image reveals the Pinwheel galaxy, one of the best known examples of "grand design spirals", and its supergiant star-forming regions in unprecedented detail. The image is the largest and most detailed photo of a spiral galaxy ever released.

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Golf or Science: What is NASA's Plan for the Space Station? »» Golf or Science: What is NASA's Plan for the Space Station?

[Tuesday, February 28, 2006] Earlier this month, a Canadian golf club manufacturer, revealed publicly that it had an arrangement with Russia whereby a cosmonaut would perform an EVA and hit an instrumented golf ball off of the space station into its own orbit.

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Falcon 1 Maiden Flight Update 24 February 2006 »» Falcon 1 Maiden Flight Update 24 February 2006

[Tuesday, February 28, 2006] The tentative launch window for the maiden flight of Falcon 1 is March 20 through 25. The gating items are receiving a shipment of liquid oxygen (LOX) from Hawaii and switching out the 2nd stage tank. 

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