Universe Today #834 - May 4, 2004
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OPPORTUNITY REACHES ENDURANCE CRATER
May 4, 2004 - NASA released a 180-degree view of Endurance Crater this week, a target Opportunity has been rolling towards for many days. After taking in the view, Opportunity will try a few spots around the rim of the 130-metre crater to see if it can drive down without rolling over - hopefully it'll be able to get back out again. Portions of the crater's sides appear almost paved with smooth rocks, while in other areas it has steep walls with exposed rock, similar to the crater Opportunity landed in. It should be a treasure trove of scientific data.
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ASTRONOMERS PEER INTO OUR UNIVERSE'S DARK AGE
May 4, 2004 - When you look at the sky, it's like looking through a time machine. The further you look, the longer the light took to reach our eyes. The most powerful telescopes on Earth can see out to a distance of 13 billion light-years away; but any more distant, and the first stars hadn't ignited yet to illuminate the sky - a time called the "Dark Era". The afterglow of the Big Bang, the cosmic background radiation, is present across the entire night sky, and astronomers have figured out how to spot the shadows cast by intervening particles to begin understanding the distribution of matter in the Dark Era.
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PROBING FOR DARK MATTER UNDERGROUND
May 4, 2004 - Scientists have gathered the first data from the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, which is located 750 metres underground in an old iron mine in Soudan, Minnesota. They're looking for Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPS); particles that can pass right through the Earth almost unaffected, but which interact through gravity. The experiment isn't conclusive, but the scientists were able to put some boundaries on the mass and number of interactions the particles should make as they pass through the instrument's detectors. Over the next few years, they will increase the sensitivity of their equipment to resolve interactions by a factor of 20.
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SEA LAUNCH SENDS DIRECTV SATELLITE TO ORBIT
May 4, 2004 - Sea Launch successfully lofted the DIRECTV 7S broadcast satellite into orbit today. A Zenit-3SL rocket lifted off from the floating platform at 1242 GMT (8:42 am EDT), and sent the satellite into a geosynchronous orbit towards its final destination above 119 degrees West Longitude. The DIRECTV 7S is the heaviest commercial satellite ever launched, weighing in at 5,483 kg. This was the 10th successful consecutive mission for Sea Launch.
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