Universe Today #695 - October 6, 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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VIRGO CLUSTER SUCKS IN DISTANT GALAXY
Oct 6, 2003 - A new image taken by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory shows the elliptical galaxy M86 and its 200,000 light-year long tail. This gigantic galaxy is located in the Virgo galaxy cluster and moving 4.8 million kilometres per hour through clouds of gas in the cluster. The Virgo cluster is hurtling away from us, but M86 is on the opposite side and being pulled into it, so the net effect is that M86 is actually one of the few galaxies actually moving towards our own Milky Way.
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SMALL ASTEROID CAME VERY CLOSE
Oct 6, 2003 - Asteroid 2003 SQ222 whizzed by the Earth last week, missing us by only 88,000 kilometres. The rock wasn't large, only 3 to 6 metres across, but if it had hit the Earth it probably wouldn't have caused damage as would burn up in the atmosphere. The asteroid was discovered by the Lowell Observatory and several amateur astronomers who collaborated to track its motion as it flew away from the Earth - unfortunately, they didn't notice it until it had already passed us. Objects of this size do strike the Earth about once a year, and create a spectacular fireball in the sky for anyone lucky enough to spot it.
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NASA TARGETING SEPTEMBER SHUTTLE LAUNCH
Oct 6, 2003 - NASA has set a target date of September 2004 for when the first space shuttle will launch since the Columbia disaster. The agency was originally targeting earlier in the year, but they felt they needed more time to develop tracking and repair systems to fulfill the safety requirements suggested by the Columbia accident investigation. The improvements include new camera systems to watch the shuttle launch, a way for the astronauts to repair damage while they're in space, and modifications to the external fuel tank to prevent foam from hitting the shuttle in launch. The next shuttle to launch will likely be Atlantis.
<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/space/10/03/return.date.shuttle/">AOL Link</a>
WORLD SPACE WEEK BEGINS
Oct 4, 2003 - People from 50 countries are celebrating space exploration as part of World Space Week - from October 4 to 10, 2003. Lance Bass, member of the pop group NSYNC, is the event's youth spokesman, and will be traveling to various schools in the US to help build young students' enthusiasm for space. Several other events are planned for this week, including a question and answer session with the astronauts on board the International Space Station. The first World Space Week was declared by the United Nations in 1999.
<a href="http://www.spaceweek.org/">AOL Link</a>
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