Universe Today #617 - June 10, 2003
U N I V E R S E
T O D A Y
Space Exploration News From Around the Internet
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-- UNIVERSE TODAY STORY SUMMARY --
* A Wall of Stars
* Survey Finds 1000 Variable Stars in Nearby Galaxy
* Comets Survive Trip to the Sun
* Rover Heads to Mars
* Sea Launch Lofts Thuraya-2
A WALL OF STARS
Jun 10, 2003 - Here's a wallpaper of this recent photograph taken by the European Southern Observatory of Centaurus A (read the story below for a bigger explanation the picture in the caption is what you'll be downloading). Sometimes it's nice to just have a big field of stars as your computer desktop. So, here you go. I've just got one size this time, 800x600, but it should scale nicely for larger and smaller desktops.
Download it here. 253 KB. Then right-click on the image and select "set as wallpaper".
<a href="http://www.universetoday.com/html/wall/centaurus800x600.jpg">AOL Link</a>
SURVEY FINDS 1000 VARIABLE STARS IN NEARBY GALAXY
Jun 10, 2003 - An international survey by the European Southern Observatory has uncovered more than 1000 luminous red variable stars in nearby galaxy Centaurus A (aka NGC 5128). This is the first survey that's ever been performed on a galaxy outside our own Milky Way. These stars, known as Mira-variables, pulse in a very specific way; the longer the cycle, the brighter they are - by comparing the visual brightness to their actual brightness, they can judge distances to these stars very accurately. This allows a very accurate measurement of the distance to Centaurus A.
<a href="http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2003/pr-13-03.html">AOL Link</a>
COMETS SURVIVE TRIP TO THE SUN
Jun 10, 2003 - Comets usually don't survive an encounter with the Sun, but SOHO captured images of a pair of extremely lucky comets that grazed the surface, well within the Sun's fiery corona. It's unusual for comets to travel in pairs like this, but what's even more unusual is a faint puff of smoke emanating from the Sun at the point of the comets' closest approach. It's possible that the Sun evaporated the cloud of ice and dust away from the comets, essentially blasting their heads off. Studying this puff of dust may give astronomers additional clues about the composition of comets.
<a href="http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/pickoftheweek/old/27may2003/">AOL Link</a>
ROVER HEADS TO MARS
Jun 10, 2003 - NASA's first Mars Explorer rover roared into space on Tuesday on board a Boeing Delta II rocket after two days of delays to poor weather, and some last minute glitches with ground tracking stations. The newly named rover, "Spirit", will take seven months to reach Mars. Once it does arrive, the six-wheeled Spirit will land on the surface of the Red Planet, and begin exploring the surface searching for evidence of past water. The second rover, "Opportunity", was originally expected to launch on June 25, but it might be also be delayed because Spirit's launch was pushed back.
<a href="http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mer/">AOL Link</a>
SEA LAUNCH LOFTS THURAYA-2
Jun 10, 2003 - Sea Launch completed its eighth successful mission Tuesday morning with the launch of the Boeing-built Thuraya-2 satellite on board a Zenit-3SL rocket. Liftoff occurred at 1355 GMT (9:56 am EDT), and the satellite separated from the Block DM upper stage 90 minutes later. Thuraya will provide data, broadcast and telecommunication services to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. This was the first mission from Sea Launch in nearly a year, but the company expects another three launches this year.
<a href="http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2003/q2/nr_030610t.html">AOL Link</a>
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