Jun 2000

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Space News June 2000...

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Mars image courtesy of NASA.

Evidence of liquid water flowing on Mars!


30 June 2000 - Next-generation TDRS satellite to launch this morning (8:38AM EDT) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Station. NASA TV begins live coverage at 7AM EDT.

Skycorp's cheap satellite network may provide high-speed Internet access with off-the-shelf parts in their low-Earth-orbit birds.

Did you know? NASA has flown an experiment nicknamed "Planet In A Test Tube" which simulates atmospheric currents under micro-gravity conditions. This is like a miniature man-made planet. The experiment, officially called the Geophysical Fluid Flow Cell, can be tailored to simulate the interior of the Sun, conditions on early Earth, or the atmospheres of other planets.



29 June 2000 - There could be two to three times the amount of water previously estimated to be trapped under the surface of Mars!

Experts urge Clinton not to support anti-missile plan, saying it could spur a new arms race. The U.S. is planning a test of the system (launching a dummy ICBM from Vandenberg AFB and intercepting it with a Pacific- island-launched kill vehicle) on 7 July. Some of Russia's top military are now downplaying the danger of "rogue states" launching nuclear-tipped rockets. [see also 26 June 2000].

Boeing's Delta series of expendable rockets are in the news...

Primordial gas "sweeping" towards the center of our galaxy. Maybe it was something it ate?



28 June 2000 - Scientists have plotted the orbits of over 900 asteroids that could potentially slam into the Earth. Such a threat is remote, but not impossible. Here's hoping we can dodge them for another 65 million years!

Europe is planning to launch a series of satellites that will fly in formation and detect solar radiations bursts. Two pairs of "Cluster II" sats will launch this summer from Russia's Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan.

Malaysia wants to build its own space launch capability - and will work with Japan to develop the expertise. Malaysia's equatorial location would give spacecraft an extra boost due to the Earth's rotation (like the way the edge of a spinning CD moves faster than its center). The same reasoning is behind the sites for Sea Launch and Arianespace.



27 June 2000 - Finally! Russia has set a date for the launch of the "Zvezda" component of the International Space Station. A Proton Rocket will loft the ISS crew quarters from Baikonur on 12 July 2000. American astronaut Bill Shepherd will command the first expedition, due in October.

Asteroids have seasons, too! The NEAR spacecraft, the first ever to orbit an asteroid, is busily photographing the Manhattan-sized Eros, as "summer" begins on its southern half. Break out the barbeque grill! Hit the beach!!



26 June 2000 - Here's an article about a new commercial rocket base in Kodiak, Alaska. Just a little chillier than Cape Canaveral, eh?

The Pentagon has raised doubts on the U.S. missile shield plan. Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited European leaders to participate in a planned American-Russian missile warning command center, but threatened to resume building medium-range missiles if the U.S. persists in the anti-missile plan. Putin is supported by other former Soviet states in this controversial matter. [see also 18 June and 5 June 2000].

Wrap up last week's space news at Florida Today.



25 June 2000 - Water, water, everywhere: Whatever the state of water currently on Mars, astronomers agree that oceans existed there millions of years ago. Now studies are showing that those oceans may have been as salty as the ones here on Earth.

A Native American tribe from Oregon has come to an agreement with the American Museum of Natural History over the use of the Willamette Meteorite, which the tribe finds sacred. The 100-century-old, iron space-rock can stay at the museum (good thing, since it weighs 32000 pounds!), with the Indians gaining access for annual ceremonies. 
The Museum is currently exhibiting prints from the book Full Moon, a collection of Apollo photographs reproduced from the original master negatives. The tour will be in New York until September.



24 June 2000 - More on the discovery of gullies and channels on the surface of Mars that could be the result of recent (not ancient) water flowing on the Red Planet. If confirmed, it would be the first liquid water discovered off Earth. The atmosphere on Mars was thought to be too thin and cold for water to remain in liquid state - though there are icecaps at the poles and clouds in the pinkish red sky. Why is liquid water a big deal? Because it is one of the requirements for life to arise. Don't look for little green men, though - if such a discovery were made, it would be single-celled organisms - but it would be one of the greatest scientific finds of all time. Besides that, it would make a manned expedition much easier - water that's already there can be used for drinking, oxygen generation, fuel, etc without being lugged there by spacecraft. 

Russia launched a Proton rocket this morning, carrying a communications satellite.

Boeing and Lockheed won $5 billion (that's Billion with a B!) in launch contracts from our favorite government agency, NASA.

On TV This Weekend: Tomorrow (Sunday) "MSNBC Investigates the Search for UFOs," airing at 9 p.m. ET/PT.



23 June 2000 - NASA budget passed, with $55 million less than requested (but an increase over this year's budget). Some people who live around NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (in Alabama) may wind up losing their jobs.

NASA is trying to revive their Mars exploration program after a series of mishaps befuddled the agency. Follow the water, guys!

When the USSR broke up in 1991, Russia found its primary launch facility (the Baikonur Cosmodrome) outside of its borders, in neighboring Kazakhstan. Relations between the two former Soviet states have sometimes been uneasy, but on Monday, they came to an agreement on continued cooperation regarding the space base.

The crew of February's Shuttle mission to map the Earth in 3-D showed off some of the fruits of their labor Wednesday, visiting NASA's Huntsville, AL site.

Latest Shuttle Status Report here.



22 June 2000 - UPDATE 11PM EDT - NASA demonstrated images this morning which show evidence of recently flowing water on Mars (up to now, such evidence indicated ancient water sources, or water was locked in the polar icecaps). The photos were captured by JPL's Mars Global Surveyor. NASA already had plans to launch another orbiter (called Mars Surveyor 2001) next April.


22 June 2000 - NASA will have a news conference today to discuss the implications of the water-on-Mars discovery. Check NASA TV schedule here for times. MSNBC will show the conference live at 11AM EDT.

ABC News is hosting a live chat today with science editor Michael Guillen at 5:30PM EDT. The topic will be the discovery of potentially life-bearing liquid water on Mars.

Will NASA re-open the bidding for the International Space Station's propulsion module?



21 June 2000 - Liquid water on Mars? The Mars Global Surveyor, a space-probe which has been orbiting the Red Planet, reveals evidence of a spring of flowing water on the surface. This is significant because any water that may have existed was thought to be either frozen or trapped underground. Liquid water is one of the ingredients required for living things to exist. Could there be microbial life on Mars?

More on the American businessman (former rocket scientist Dennis Tito) who wants to pay big bucks for a vacation on Russia's Mir space station. He would become the first-ever "space tourist". Bring plenty of film, and don't drink the water!

One of the newest jobs out there is a "space weather" forecaster - someone who works on observing & predicting solar flares and storms of radiation which could knock out Earth-orbiting satellites. Do you have to wear an ugly blazer?



20 June 2000 - Today is the Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year. Happy Summer! (or if you're reading this from the Southern Hemisphere, Happy Winter!)

So, just who is this guy who wants to be a space tourist on Mir?

The privately-financed, remote-controlled Lunar Rover due to go up in 2003 will have a familiar sponsor - Radio Shack! [See also 16 June 2000].

People in Huntsville, Alabama who worked with Wernher von Braun in the 50s and 60s have good memories of the German rocket team - and defend their reputations against those who claim that they were just evil scientists doing Hitler's bidding in the V-2 rocket factories during World War 2. 

Did you know that back in the 80s, the Soviet Union copied the unclassified plans for America's Space Shuttle? Only one of their 4 "Buran" orbiters ever flew in space (remote-controlled and unmanned - and with some improvements over NASA's design). One of the others, which has flown in atmospheric tests, is now in Sydney, Australia. Its fate? A tourist attraction!



19 June 2000 - NASA to launch deep-space probe to "eavesdrop" on early universe.

Radio astronomers win reserved frequencies: no interference from Earth-bound sources means clearer reception of distant emissions.

Latest ISS status report here.

Latest Shuttle status report here.

Did you know? Liberty Bell 7, the Mercury capsule recovered from the ocean floor, was the deepest ocean salvage ever done - it was a half-mile deeper than the Titanic! New theories are surfacing about how the hatch may have blown, which caused the spacecraft to sink to the bottom of the Pacific after splashdown. [see also 14 June].

What is ion propulsion, and how will this advanced technology help cut mission time for deep-space probes?

Wrap up last week's space news at Florida Today.



18 June 2000 -  Happy Father's Day!  Space TV special on tonight [see also 17 June].

Is America's missile defense plan all it's cracked up to be?

Cosmonauts Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kaleri say that life aboard the Mir space station is getting tougher. Hey, it was only supposed to last 5 years (it's 14 now).

Today In Space History: The 17th anniversary (18 June 1983) of the launch of STS-7 (Shuttle Challenger), the 7th Shuttle flight (the second for Challenger). Mission Facts here and here; Crew info here; Image collections here. The flight featured several science experiments, and the deployment of two comm satellites. Challenger's landing was diverted to Edwards AFB, instead of the planned KSC landing site, due to bad weather at the Cape. On this mission, Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space - only the third woman to achieve this goal! Many have followed her since then. It was also the largest crew (5 astronauts) to fly up to that time. Ride also became the youngest US astronaut in space.



17 June 2000 - Despite the success of the recent Russian mission to the aging Mir space station, the future of the last vestige of the Soviet space program is in doubt. If private investors can keep the station going, an American businessman is willing to pay $20 million for a trip there, becoming the world's first "space tourist".

NASA to launch "Gravity Probe B" to test Einstein's Theory Of Relativity.

Molecules of a simple type of sugar have been observed in gas clouds in space. Sugar compounds are one of the building blocks of life.

On TV This Weekend: Tomorrow at 8PM EDT, National Geographic Explorer (on cable channel CNBC) will premier "Destination Space". Check local listings for airtimes elsewhere. If you miss it Sunday, it will re-air on 24 June.



16 June 2000 - The Mir cosmonauts returned safely to Earth when their Soyuz TM-30 capsule parachuted to the ground, ending a successful mission to the Russian space outpost.

A National Geographic poll shows that most Americans are in favor of their tax dollars going to NASA. Now if we could actually go somewhere outside low Earth orbit...

A private company is developing a Moon rover than can be remote-controlled around the lunar surface.



15 June 2000 - Mir cosmonauts return to Earth tonight!
UPDATE 8:30PM EDT: Cosmonauts Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kaleri have undocked their Soyuz TM capsule from the Russian space station, and are scheduled to touch down in Kazakhstan (their main space center) at 8:43 PM EDT. MirCorp press release here. The crew made preparations for a future expedition to the 14-year-old orbiting facility, but it is unknown whether any more missions will actually happen.

This week's full moon will appear larger than usual - find out why here.

Could a plasma-powered spacecraft cut the time it would take to get people to Mars? NASA is teaming up with a private company to find out. Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz, the head of plasma propulsion research at NASA Houston (and a Shuttle veteran), says that NASA could conduct an orbital test flight "as early as 2004".



14 June 2000 - Liberty Bell 7 returns home: After 39 years on the ocean floor, Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule, which sank after splashdown, has been restored and is on display at NASA's KSC, where it was launched in 1961.

Who is "Robonaut"? Just the automated astronaut assistant that we heard about on 9 June 2000. "He" will be controlled remotely, and have cameras for eyes.

The deserts of Nevada are standing in for the surface of Mars, as NASA researches a 6-wheeled rover for a possible 2003 mission to the Red Planet.

Today In Space History: 25 years ago today (14 June 1975), the Soviet Union launched the Venera 10 probe, which would land on the surface of Venus, four months later. The lander, a twin of the Venera 9 probe launched days earlier, returned some of the first-ever images from the Venusian surface, before the planet's corrosive atmosphere and crushing pressure silenced the spacecraft little over an hour after touchdown.



13 June 2000 - The two cosmonauts aboard Russia's Mir space station are scheduled to come home Thursday, and a follow-up mission is being planned for November.

Is the Moon totally dead? Some people have seen strange glowing effects, possibly from gas escaping from the lunar interior (I hate it when that happens!)

Students to design and build an instrument for the International Space Station.



12 June 2000 - Astronomy conference starts Tuesday at CalTech.

SeaWinds instrument helps weather satellite predict hurricanes more quickly.

Wrap up last week's space news at Florida Today.



11 June 2000 - Australian meteor hit seen & heard for miles around!

Here's another piece on the destruction of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

Latest ISS status report here. NASA states:

With the addition of mission STS-106 to the International Space Station Assembly sequence, the assignments originally planned for STS-101 were split between the two missions. While at the International Space Station, the STS-106 astronauts will conduct at least one space walk to perform tasks linked to the presence of the service module. Also, they will transfer various supplies to outfit the station in preparation for the first resident crew, which is scheduled to launch Oct. 30.

More science shorts from UPI...



10 June 2000 - Science Magazine reports that crystals found in a meteorite indicate that the ingredients for life may have existed very early in the formation of the Solar System.

Wrap up this week's meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Each day's summary contains links to news stories.

As we approach the 31st anniversary of the first moon landing, the perennial question comes up - what the heck did Neil Armstrong really say when he first stepped on the lunar surface???



9 June 2000 - Astronomer conference reveals new images of stellar destruction, (including a crossbow-shaped nebula!), thanks to the Chandra telescope's X-ray vision. New theories on black holes were also presented.

Futurists say that lunar materials contain almost everything needed to build a colony on the moon, without hauling supplies from Earth [See also 6 June 2000].

Aurora Borealis sighted in Siberia, but the Earth's magnetosphere is settling down after this week's increase in solar activity [See also 8 June 2000, 7 June 2000].

NASA is developing a robot with a human-like appearance that someday may be used to help astronauts! It features a hand that can perform delicate movements, like lifting a small object with tweezers. "Mr. Data, please report to the Bridge!"

Keep your eyes on the prize - the X Prize, that is! The $10 million award goes to the first team that can put a spacecraft 100 kilometers up, with a crew of 3 aboard - and do it twice within 14 days!. CNN reports on some of the entries.



8 June 2000 - U.S. Congress approves $13.7 billion NASA budget, but some programs will still have to be cut.

Latest Shuttle Status Report here. NASA states:

Workers removed the SPACEHAB module from Atlantis' payload bay on Monday at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Workers have also removed the main engine heat shield. Atlantis' three main engines are scheduled to be removed Thursday night. Over the weekend, workers will drain residual reactants from the orbiter maneuvering system and auxiliary power unit lines. Atlantis is slated to launch no earlier than Sept. 8 on STS-106.

More on the laser gun test that shot down a missile [See also 7 June 2000].

What are "Ultra High-Energy Cosmic Rays", and how is one of history's largest international scientific collaboration finding them?

More on the giant solar flares and gas cloud which are bombarding the Earth this week. Better get out the sunscreen lotion! [See also 7 June 2000].

Astronomer conference announces 3-D maps of 100,000 galaxies!

French rocket manufacturer Arianespace has signed the largest launch services contract in the history of Europe’s space industry. 

Astronaut photographs of the Earth from space can help us here on the ground track changes in the Earth's environment.

The NEAR space-probe had a malfunction this week, as one of its instruments had to be powered down. The probe's other sensors are working fine, and it continues to orbit an asteroid named Eros.

Today In Space History: 25 years ago today (8 June 1975), the Soviet Union launched the unmanned Venera 9 probe, which would land on the surface of Venus, four months later. The lander returned the first-ever image from the Venusian surface, before the planet's corrosive atmosphere and crushing pressure silenced the spacecraft less than an hour after touchdown. Venera 9 was the first spacecraft ever to land on another planet.



7 June 2000 - Solar storm headed for Earth: charged particles may disrupt some power and telecommunications, but at least we'll get a cool lightshow out of it!

For the first time ever, a laser weapon was used to shoot down a short-range rocket in a U.S. Army simulation. What's next, photon torpedoes??

What is required for the next generation of spaceships? It will take advanced technology, and advanced thought! One group of engineers is working on a spacecraft design that will travel 10 times as fast as the Space Shuttle, but without any engines or fuel. How will it work? It's a solar sail!

U.S. President lifts ban on Ukranian rocket launches: The former Soviet republic is now free to send up as many rockets as it wants - (maybe from its new SeaLaunch platform?)

Russia launched a combination defense/TV satellite from Baikonur (Kazakhstan) on Tuesday, aboard a Proton rocket like the one that will boost International Space Station modules into orbit. The booster was modified, at NASA's urging, to overcome problems with the engines which caused some previous models to explode.



6 June 2000 - Scientists from all over the U.S. are meeting at NASA Huntsville this week to discuss, among other topics, how astronauts on missions to the Moon or Mars could be more self-sufficient and "live off the land".

OK skywatchers, this week is your big chance to catch a glimpse of Mercury. The closest planet to our Sun is usually masked by sunlight, making it difficult to spot. This article gives tips for viewing planet Mercury. NASA plans to launch an orbiter there in 2004.

Latest Shuttle Status Report from KSC. NASA states:

At Kennedy Space Center, technicians begin preparations to remove Space Shuttle Atlantis' three main engines, which will occur later this week. Also, post-flight evaluations show that the orbiter's auxiliary power converter unit No. 1 does not need to be replaced. Atlantis will launch on STS-106 no earlier than Sept. 8.

Workers disconnected the payload from the shuttle over the weekend, removing the payload yesterday.

Have scientists found a way to move particles faster than the speed of light???

Hubble bubbles? HST has detected a super-massive black hole that is creating giant "bubbles" of heated gas in galaxy NGC 4438. As you may know, black holes are the remains of certain collapsed stars, whose matter is so dense that it forms a gravitational field so powerful that not even light can escape! Black holes can only be detected by the "event horizon" around them, where swirling gas heats up and emits radiation as it is being sucked into the "gravity well". About 30 black holes have been discovered so far, and it appears that larger black holes seem to get that way by feeding off of larger galaxies.

More on NASA's video deal with Dreamtime, who will put the space agency's extensive library of images on-line [See also 3 June 2000]...



5 June 2000 - U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin met yesterday to discuss missile-defense plans. They reached a historic agreement to maintain a jointly-staffed missile warning center in Moscow, and to each dispose of 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium. (OK, so just how do you get rid of plutonium - doesn't it remain radioactive for thousands of years???). Russia still vehemently opposes U.S. plans to build a system to shoot down ICBMs, but the talks were characterized as positive overall.

Space Shuttle Atlantis debuted its hi-tech "glass cockpit" on its recent flight. Read about how the 1970s-era mechanical gauges and green screens were replaced with new color flat-panel displays here. Latest Shuttle Status report here.

Chandra X-ray telescope detects a black hole driving a one-million-MPH winds away from it!

More on how aurorae (Northern/Southern Lights) are formed...

Wrap up last week's space news at Florida Today.



4 June 2000 - Compton Update - 11:30AM EDT - More news stories on the controlled destruction of the 17-ton Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, which was de-orbited with a series of thruster firings designed to reduce its 370-mile altitude and bring it precisely down in a remote stretch of the Pacific Ocean. The six tons of the spacecraft that survived reentry rained down in a shower of molten aluminum, steel, and titanium around 3AM EDT (last night/this morning). The failure of one more of its 3 gyroscopes would have meant a potentially dangerous uncontrolled re-entry, so NASA chose to kill the satellite while it could still direct its course. Neil Gehrels, project scientist for the observatory at NASA Goddard, explained:

"This is a painful time for the scientists who have used Compton for nine years...as it plunges into the atmosphere and flies apart."

We agree that risk to civilians should be minimized - it's just that the spacecraft was functioning perfectly, aside from the failure of 2 of its 3 stabilizing gyros. Couldn't NASA have sent up a repair mission - or is the discovery of black holes, and the violent radiation bursts produced by dying stars, a harder sell than the spectacular images produced by the Hubble telescope? [See also 3 June, 2 June & 28 May 2000].


4 June 2000 - Compton Update - 3:00AM EDT - SPLASHDOWN! CGRO has broken up in the Earth's atmosphere, and debris continues to fall harmlessly in the target area (nice shot, guys!). There will be a NASA press conference at 6AM EDT (possibly carried on NASA TV). We're signing off for tonight - check back later today for splashdown info.


4 June 2000 - Compton Update - 2:25AM EDT - The crew at NASA Goddard are saying their goodbyes and congratulating themselves, as NORAD confirms that the CGRO has re-entered the atmosphere. One software engineer quipped that it was only the first time that the on-board computer had ever taken a hit! Astronomers lamented the loss of the satellite, but agreed that safety factors demanded its destruction.


4 June 2000 - Compton Update - 2:10AM EDT - NASA reports that the CGRO is now tumbling in a controlled (???) descent, with the spacecraft heating up from friction with the atmosphere. It is breaking up, and reentry is expected within 10-20 minutes! NORAD is monitoring the falling debris (as well as looking out for incoming nukes!)


4 June 2000 - Compton Update - 1:55AM EDT - NASA reports that the fourth thruster firing ("burn") is complete, and has exceeded the minimum time required to place the spacecraft in the target area - the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Florida Today has links to more CGRO stories at the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and NASA Goddard.


4 June 2000 - Compton Update - 1:00AM EDT - The splashdown time is now estimated at 3AM EDT, with the fourth and final de-orbit burn due to begin around 1:20AM EDT. CGRO is the largest scientific payload ever launched from a Space Shuttle, having been deployed from Atlantis in 1991 on the STS-37 mission. In 2005, a satellite called GLAST will take over observation of gamma-ray bursts, the most violent events in the universe. Until then, ground-based dishes will have to suffice.


4 June 2000 - Compton Update - 12:30AM EDT - Engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland are in the process of sending commands to the 17-ton Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, so that it may be brought down in a controlled re-entry. It is down to its last working gyro, and NASA officials fear that if the last one fails, the orbiting telescope could fall uncontrollably, possibly resulting in property damage or loss of life. The 9-year-old CGRO is scheduled to come down 2500 miles southeast of Hawaii this morning between 3AM - 4AM EDT. Six tons of debris is expected to fall into the ocean, but ships and planes are warned to be well away from the area. The final burn is scheduled for 1:22AM EDT. This is the first time that NASA is destroying a functional satellite.

We feel that the CGRO could still produce valuable science, especially in parallel with the Chandra observatory ("sees" X-rays)  and the Hubble Space Telescope ("sees" visible light). Gamma rays in space rarely penetrate the Earth's atmosphere, and so NASA should have planned ahead for a repair mission similar to December's Discovery flight.



3 June 2000 - The third of 4 de-orbit burns to bring down the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory happens tonight at 11:30. The giant telescope is due for a controlled re-entry and crash into the Pacific tomorrow. Watch NASA TV for live coverage! [See also 2 June & 28 May 2000]. Could politics, and not just safety, be behind the demise of CGRO?

Just how common are collisions between stars? Maybe more than you think!

NASA has signed a $100 million contract with a company called Dreamtime to place high-definition video cameras aboard the ISS and the Space Shuttle fleet. The plan is to create a searchable database of space imagery, free to the public (for "standard images" - whatever that means - but with a price on the hi-res stuff).

KSC is getting ready for the next Shuttle mission, STS-106. NASA reports:

Preparations continue for STS-106, a mission to the International Space Station. The seven-member crew is scheduled to launch no earlier than Sept. 8 on Space Shuttle Atlantis. Meanwhile, Atlantis is in the Orbiter Processing Facility undergoing post-flight inspection.

You think it's tough sending rockets into space? Try it when you have to worry about thieves stealing metal from your launch site!

Is NASA chief Dan Goldin nearing the end of his career, or just getting started?



2 June 2000 - So, why did the International Space Station need its orbit boosted - isn't it only a couple of years old? Find out how the Sun and atmospheric drag hold the answer. Also, see yesterday's ISS status report here.
NASA states:

Following the visit by Space Shuttle Atlantis, the International Space Station continues to orbit the Earth in excellent shape. Zarya's four new batteries and two existing batteries are working normally. Zvezda is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan between July 8 and 14. A final launch date will be determined later in June. Friday, the Proton rocket that will carry Zvezda into orbit will arrive in Baikonur by train.

More volcanoes observed on Jupiter's moon Io...

The bus-sized Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory has begun its descent into Earth's atmosphere, with a planned crash into the Pacific Ocean on Sunday. Why won't NASA save it??? [See also 28 May 2000]

What is the "Big Bang Machine", and should you worry when they fire it up???

Rare meteorite found in the Yukon - could its material be from the early days of the Solar System?

Today In Space History: It's the 2nd anniversary (2 June 1998) of the launch of STS-91 (Shuttle Discovery), the 91st Shuttle flight (the 24th for OV-103). Mission Facts here and here; Crew info here; Image collections here; News coverage here and here. The flight was the 9th and final docking with Russia's Mir space station, recovering NASA astronaut Andy Thomas from Mir, and "dropping off" Russian space chief and retired cosmonaut Valeri Ryumin to inspect the station.



1 June 2000 - NASA sat captures first-ever photos of super-hot plasma surrounding the Earth. The IMAGE spacecraft, launched this past March, has been called "the first weather satellite for space storms."

More on the new observations of the nearby asteroid Eros...

Hubble Telescope captures spectacular images of the Crab Nebula, (remnants of a star that exploded almost 1000 years ago)!

New planet Mercury photos on BBC News and CNN, captured by a team of astronomers from Boston University.

Now that Atlantis is back on the ground, what's happening at the "Shuttle Garage"? NASA reports:

Preparations continue for STS-106, the next shuttle mission to the International Space Station. The STS-106 crew will fly aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis and will launch no earlier than Sept. 8. STS-106 will follow the arrival of the Zvezda Service Module, which is scheduled to launch in July.
On Monday, Atlantis completed STS-101, which was also a mission to the station. Atlantis is in the Orbiter Processing Facility and routine post-flight inspections and vehicle safing continue on schedule.

Where do the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) come from?


To keep going back in the timeline, check the Space News Archive for Apr - May 2000, Jan - Feb 2000Oct - Dec 1999, and before.

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