Dec 2000

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Space News - December 2000

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Russia's Mir space station

Mir de-orbited!
More Mars water evidence!

Gullies in Hale Crater on Mars may have been carved out by water. Image courtesy of NASA.

Ongoing coverage of Space Station Alpha at the International Space Station Mission Journal!

New - Discovery is bringing the Space Station crew home - follow the flight at the
STS-102 Mission Journal page!
Other Shuttle flights are detailed at the new Missions page!

bullet31 December 2000 - Happy New Year! Here are BBC's top science articles for 2000.

Science magazine's top stories of 2000.

MSNBC looks back on the year.

Arthur C. Clarke is a visionary - his writings have predicted cell phones, space stations, moon travel - he even came up with the idea of communication satellites back in the forties - and of course, he wrote the science fiction classic, "2001: A Space Odyssey". How far off is the fictional 2001 from science fact?

New ISS articles here

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has put together a list of their own top accomplishments for the year:

JPL's shining stars in 2000
Messier 104: The Sombrero Galaxy(Dec. 30) Scientists and engineers at JPL contributed to many of NASA's accomplishments in the year 2000. Before boldly going into 2001, we want to remember a few of our shining stars in 2000.

This year has seen a lot of changes for our little website. We will keep growing and moving forward (and upward and outward!) in 2001. Thanks for staying with us - keep reaching for the High Frontier!!


bullet30 December 2000 - It's been a big year for space news. Here are NASA's top stories:

The Space Odyssey Renewed
NASA top ten graphicNASA has pioneered the future for more than four decades, and the agency's achievements this past year are marked by a spirit of cooperation never-before-seen in the history of Space exploration. The dream of the first crew to live on the International Space Station is realized at a time when nations that were once separated by the Cold War are now joined in a project of discovery. In our solar system, finding evidence of flowing water on Mars rekindled hopes of finding life on our planetary neighbor and the images from Mars Global Surveyor helped fuel the excitement for NASA's long-term exploration plans of the Red Planet. Closer to home, an unprecedented mapping of the Earth's surface began, and NASA technology is being used to ease flight delays and enhance runway safety. Read on to relive these and other exciting developments that make up NASA's top ten stories in the year 2000.

The Cassini probe has "double teamed" Jupiter, working together with the Galileo spacecraft to deliver new close-up photos of the giant fifth planet. NASA reports:

Cassini visualizes the invisible
NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which made its closest approach to Jupiter early today, is providing ways to make invisible features visible, to track daily changes in some of the planet's most visible storms and to hear the patterns in natural radio emissions near the edge of Jupiter's magnetic environment.

Go to pictures, video or audio.

CNN has a series of articles entitled "2001: A Space Prophecy", comparing science in the year 2001 to science in the movie "2001". Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

British astronomer receives knighthood. Isn't it hard to look through a telescope while you're wearing a suit of armor?

Today In Space History - On 30 Dec 1987, Cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko hit a record-setting stay of over 325 days in space aboard the then-Soviet space station, Mir. [Date: United Space Alliance]


bullet29 December 2000 - More on the loss of 6 Russian satellites, as the Ukrainian rocket carrying them crashed into the Arctic after the third stage failed. The toxic rocket fuel may pose an environmental hazard.

Jupiter will have a new visitor tomorrow, as the Cassini probe makes a scheduled flyby, after a long trip. NASA reports:

Jupiter Millennium Flyby
NASA image of JupiterNASA's Cassini spacecraft, on its journey to Saturn, is expected to make its closest approach to Jupiter tomorrow, Dec. 30. The Galileo spacecraft has been exploring Jupiter since 1995. It is unusual in the history of space exploration to have two robotic spacecraft on separate missions, actively observing a planet--other than Earth--at the same time from such close range. Meanwhile, NASA's Galileo spacecraft, orbiting Jupiter since 1995, has successfully flown past Jupiter's moon Ganymede.

Did the universe begin with a "Big Bang"? New evidence supports the theory!


bullet28 December 2000 - Russia's bad luck continues as they search for the wreckage of a rocket launch that failed this week, causing the loss of its six-satellite payload. At least Mir hasn't fallen out of the sky (lest we forget, America's Skylab did just that in 1979).

It may be cold outside, but the Sun is having some unusual weather of its own - solar storms are blasting radiation toward the Earth like never before! NASA reports:

Watching the Angry Sun
NASA image of Sun's surfaceAs the Sun's stormy season approaches its zenith, solar scientists have the best seat in the house, using the largest coordinated fleet of spacecraft and ground observatories ever assembled to observe these angry outbursts of solar radiation and predict the impact of turbulent space weather. According to scientists from NASA and NOAA--the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration--the Sun is near the peak of its 11-year cycle of activity. Solar maximum is the two-to-three year period around that peak when the Sun's activity is most tempestuous and the Earth is buffeted with powerful solar gusts.

A meteorite on display in an Australian museum for three decades is gaining renewed attention, as it is examined for evidence of fossilized microbes.


bullet27 December 2000 - Why did Russian ground controllers lose contact with Mir for 20 hours on Monday? Officials think it was electrical trouble. Can they keep it stable enough to control its reentry? The RSA assures the world that the station is under control, but they had quite a scare!

What caused a sonic boom over the skies of Australia yesterday? Probably a meteorite the size of a coffee cup. Those Starbucks are getting out of hand!

Today In Space History - Shuttle Discovery ended mission STS-103, landing at Kennedy Space Center shortly after 7PM EST on 27 Dec 1999. The flight was the third servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. [Date: News From Space]

More Space History - A meteorite was discovered in Antarctica on this day in 1984, and later determined to be from Mars. Microscopic analysis of the meteorite suggests that microbial life could possibly have existed on Mars in ancient times. [Date: United Space Alliance]


bullet26 December 2000 - Russia can be justly proud of their accomplishments with the Mir space station, but to paraphrase Al Gore: it's time for it to go. See a Mir timeline here. Ground controllers regained contact with the aging station after a 24-hour communication outage thought to have been caused be a power failure.

More on yesterday's partial solar eclipse - the last one to fall on Christmas Day for over 300 years!


bullet25 December 2000 -   Merry Christmas !!!  Researchers have developed a zero-g exercise bike that may help combat the health effects that space travel imposes.

Christmas present or omen? A partial solar eclipse was visible this morning over much of North America.


bullet24 December 2000 - Did the Earth have a near-miss with an asteroid recently? British astronomers have tracked an object that would have wiped out a large city, had it struck our planet. Luck was on our side, as the space rock missed us by 800,000 kilometers (a close call by astronomical standards!)

Today In Space History - The crew of Apollo 8, in lunar orbit, read passages from the Bible's Book of Genesis on Christmas Eve 1968. It was one of the most memorable and moving television broadcasts from space. The televised images were the first time the entire Earth could be seen by people on the ground, and it was a powerful reminder of the fragility of our planet, the only home we have. [Date: News From Space]

More Space History - The Soviet moon probe Luna 13 landed at the "Ocean Of Storms" on this day in 1966, after a 3-day flight. [Date: United Space Alliance]


bullet23 December 2000 - More on the possible rebirth of an unmanned mission to Pluto, the only planet in our solar system that we haven't explored.

NASA's Kennedy Space Center looks back on their year's accomplishments.

Boeing wins lucrative National Missile Defense contract.


bullet22 December 2000 - Finally, the biggest barrier to space tourism has been overcome! Is it cheap spacecraft? Government cooperation? New technology? NO!!! Dutch scientists have invented a beer barrel that will work in zero gravity! Silly NASA, you were on the wrong track the whole time!

On The Newsstand: Lots of good space articles in the January 2001 issue of National Geographic magazine.


bullet21 December 2000 - Today marks the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year, and the first day of winter (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is). Our friends Down Under see this as the start of Summer (lucky them!). 

Is NASA re-considering their cancellation of a mission to Pluto? They might send a robot probe to fly by the ninth planet, if the cost is not too much. It's important that they make up their minds soon, because the Pluto's atmosphere may actually freeze and condense to the surface as its orbit takes it further from the sun (yes, it's that cold!).

Today In Space History - We mark the Apollo 8 launch (21 Dec 1968). AS8 was the first manned moon mission, sending three astronauts into lunar orbit (the first manned Apollo flight was an Earth orbit mission). This marked the first time in history that humans had left the Earth's orbit, and the first time anyone would see another planetary body close up, with their own eyes. Mission Fact sheet here; Crew info here; Image collection hereApollo 8 was the first manned flight of the Saturn V rocket, and it carried a "test article" instead of a real Lunar Module. Before launch, the Apollo 8 crew met aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh. This mission was also the first to lift off from KSC's Launch Complex 39, the home of all future manned NASA flights (Apollo 7 and all the Mercury and Gemini missions launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station). [Date: NASA]


bullet20 December 2000 - Europe has chosen a landing site for the British-made Beagle 2 lander, due to touch down on the surface of Mars in 2003. Hope they have better luck than NASA!


bullet19 December 2000 - Astronomers have put together the most detailed map yet of the center of our galaxy.


bullet14 December 2000 - Was there ever life on Mars? The debate renews as possible evidence of fossilized bacterial remains on an ancient meteorite that fell to Earth from Mars.

More on China's plan to put astronauts ("taikonauts") in space within 5 years!


bullet13 December 2000 - Mircorp, the private company founded to promote civilian space travel, is going to focus its efforts on a new spacecraft to provide trips into orbit - possibly to the International Space Station.


bullet09 December 2000 - NASA has made contact with their oldest spacecraft - the 35-year-old Pioneer 6! They just don't make'em like they used to...


bullet04 December 2000 - More evidence of ancient water on Mars has been found. NASA has revealed that some crater walls show signs of sedimentary layers - like what would be formed by lakes! Bust out the waders, we're going fishing!!


bullet02 December 2000 - NASA scientists are going to announce a major discovery about Mars this Thursday (07 Dec) - but they're not saying what it's going to be!

WHAT'S NEW - We rounded up all the Space Quotes we had lying around, and we bring you the new Space Quote of the Month archive!

Is there a black hole in the center of our galaxy, having a "light snack"???

Today In Space History - A big four Shuttle anniversaries: STS-27 (1988), STS-35 (1990), STS-53 (1992), and STS-61 (1993), all launched on December 2nd. [Dates: NASA]


bullet01 December 2000 - Shuttle Endeavour is set to dock with Space Station Alpha (ISS) tomorrow, shortly before 3PM EST - check the  STS-97 Mission Journal page for more info.

Life on Mars? One scientist thinks he discovered it nearly 25 years ago, on the Viking missions. Now he wants another shot to prove he was right.

A galaxy once thought to be the most distant object known, may not be so far after all...

Today In Space History - It's been 9 years since Shuttle Atlantis came home from her partially-classified STS-44 mission, landing at Edwards AFB on 01 Dec 1991. [Date: United Space Alliance]


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

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