Universe Today #793 - March 4, 2004
U N I V E R S E
T O D A Y
Space Exploration News From Around the Internet
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ASTEROID BILL PASSES
Mar 4, 2004 - The US House of Representatives approved bill H.R. 912, which awards amateur astronomers who discover potential Earth-crossing asteroids up to $3,000. One award will be given to the astronomer who discovers the brightest object, and another to the astronomer who makes the biggest scientific contribution to Minor Planet Center's mission of cataloguing near-Earth asteroids. It's estimated that there are between 900 and 1,100 objects larger than 1 km - of which, 700 have already been tracked.
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TUMBLEWEED ROVER ROLLS IN ANTARCTICA
Mar 4, 2004 - A 2-metre robotic beach ball has completed a 70-kilometre journey at the South Pole, validating an unusual form that a future rover could take on the surface of another planet. The tumbleweed rover was powered by wind, which kept it rolling at an average speed of 1.3 kph - but sometimes as high as 16 kph. A rover like this could be blown across the surface of Mars, searching for underground sources of water that would be impossible to detect from orbit.
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MISSION SETS OUT TO MAP SOUTHERN GLACIERS
Mar 4, 2004 - An international team of scientists has set out on a three-week expedition to South America and Antarctica to survey glaciers to help determine the rate of climate change on Earth. They'll gather data using a specially configured DC-8 aircraft carrying a tool called the Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar. It scans the ground in multiple wavelengths, polarizations, and in interferometric modes to "see" through treetops, sand and snow pack and produce topographic models.
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LANDSAT 5 REACHES 20 YEARS IN SPACE
Mar 4, 2004 - NASA's workhorse satellite Landsat 5 recently passed the 20 year mark of operations, beating original estimates that it would only last 2-3 years. Over the course of 100,000 orbits, the satellite has taken over 29 million images of the Earth, tracking human activity and changes in the planet's environment; and it's still working fine. Nothing lasts forever, though; the satellite is expected to run out of fuel by 2009 - a replacement should be launched before then.
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WALLPAPER: HUBBLE'S NEW IMAGE OF V838 MONOCEROTIS
Mar 4, 2004 - Here's a 1024x768 wallpaper of the latest image released from the Hubble Space Telescope. It's of V838 Monocerotis, a nebula located about 20,000 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Monoceros. Hubble first began watching this object when the central red star flared up in 2002, illuminating a cloud of material that was probably ejected in an explosion tens of thousands of years ago. The object is likely to continue changing rapidly over the next few years as light continues to expand inside the shell of material.
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