Universe Today #837 - May 10, 2004
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13 ADVOCACY GROUPS ALLY TOGETHER
May 10, 2004 - As a show of support for President Bush's space exploration initiative, 13 US space advocacy and policy groups have formed an alliance. The groups include: Aerospace Industries Association, Aerospace States Association, American Astronautical Society, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, California Space Authority, Florida Space Authority, The Mars Society, National Coalition of Spaceport States, National Space Society, The Planetary Society, ProSpace, Space Access Society and Space Frontier Foundation. The first goal for the group will be to gain broad congressional support for the new vision - perhaps it won't be difficult considering the groups have 1 million members combined.
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2004 ASTRONAUT CLASS NAMED
May 7, 2004 - NASA named its latest batch of astronauts; the 11 candidates include three teachers, who were selected from over 1,000 candidates. The introduction of the new astronauts comes at a time when the space shuttle fleet is still grounded because of the Columbia disaster - they probably won't fly until 2009. The candidates are Joseph Acaba, Thomas Marshburn, Christopher Cassidy, R. Shane Kimbrough, Jose Hernandez, Robert Satcher, Shannon Walker, James Dutton, and Randolph Bresnik.
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TWO HOT PLANETS SEEN ORBITING VERY CLOSE TO PARENT STARS
May 7, 2004 - European astronomers have confirmed a new class of objects, known as "very hot Jupiters", which are large, extremely hot, and orbit their parent star in an orbit that only takes a couple of days. They used the "transit method", which measure the brightness of a star over a long period of time to watch for a periodic dimming; an indication that a planet is passing in front. As part of a new survey of 155,000 stars, the astronomers have found 137 transit candidates, and confirmed 2 planets so far using other techniques for finding extrasolar planets.
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NASA CONSIDERS RISKING ROVER ON DANGEROUS DESCENT
May 7, 2004 - NASA is currently making a difficult decision about whether to send its Opportunity rover down into Endurance Crater, which is 130 metres wide, and deep enough that the rover might not be able to climb back out. It's clear that there's some interesting science to be gathered in the crater, including more exposed rock surfaces. Opportunity will crawl around the rim of the crater and search for an ideal ramp that it could use to enter and exit safely.
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CANADIAN ARROW ANNOUNCES TEST LAUNCH PLANS
May 7, 2004 - X Prize candidate Canadian Arrow announced this week that they will begin unmanned flight tests of its rocket this summer. Over the course of four months, beginning in August, the team will test their rocket's abort system which enables the crew cabin to blast away from the rest of the rocket while it's on the pad. They will also test flight aerodynamics to ensure the rocket will be able to fly to its designed altitude as required by the X Prize.
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