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INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL BENSON
Feb 2, 2004 - Michael Benson, author of Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes (read Universe Today's review) took some time from his busy schedule, and nasty cold, to answer some of our questions about his book and interest in astronomy and space exploration. Benson was interviewed by Mark Mortimer.
HUBBLE SEES ATMOSPHERE BLOWING OFF A PLANET
Feb 2, 2004 - New data gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope shows that a previously discovered extrasolar gas giant which has oxygen and carbon in its atmosphere evaporating at a tremendous rate. The planet - officially called HD 209458; unofficially "Osiris" - orbits its star at only 7 million km and has created an extended ellipse of material around the star. This discovery has caused astronomers to propose a new kind of object called a cthonian: the dead cores of gas giants which have been stripped of their atmosphere.
ARE GALAXY CLUSTERS CORRUPTING OUR VIEW OF THE BIG BANG?
Feb 2, 2004 - Astronomers made news in early 2003 with a precise measurement for the age of the Universe - 13.7 billion years - using data from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite. But new research from the University of Durham indicates that our view into the past might be skewed by clusters of galaxies which seem to be in regions where the microwave energy is lower. It's possible that hot gas in the galaxy clusters is interfering with photons from the Big Bang, and has corrupted the microwave map of the sky. These results may undermine theories about how the early Universe was dominated by dark matter and dark energy.
PROGRESS DOCKS WITH STATION
Jan 31, 2004 - An unmanned Russian Progress cargo ship docked with the International Space Station on Saturday, delivering over two tones of food, water, fuel, supplies and scientific equipment. Progress 13 automatically docked to the Zvezda Service Module at 1313 UTC (8:13am EST) Saturday afternoon. This is the first spacecraft to visit the station since astronaut Michael Foale and cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri were launched more than 100 days ago.
OPPORTUNITY ROLLS OFF THE LANDER
Jan 31, 2004 - NASA's Opportunity rover successfully rolled off its lander today and out onto the Martian surface - both rovers are now firmly on Martian soil. The commands to drive were given Saturday morning, and cheers erupted at JPL when the first images came back showing tracks in the dust back to the lander. "We're two for two! One dozen wheels on the soil." JPL's Chris Lewicki, flight director, announced to the control room. The flight team ended up only requiring seven days to get Opportunity off the lander, compared to twelve days for Spirit.
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