Jan 2001

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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 January 2001 - Mars probe mission extended! NASA reports:

Successful Mars Spacecraft's Mission Extended
NASA artist's conception of Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft in orbit over Mars.NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, which has collected more information about the Red Planet than all previous missions combined, completed its primary science mission yesterday and began a new era of continued exploration. Mars Global Surveyor's extended mission--to continue its extraordinary mapping capabilities to acquire data for the selection of future landing sites--has been approved through April 2002. The robotic orbiter was launched on Nov. 7, 1996, and arrived at Mars on Sept. 12, 1997. The spacecraft began its primary mapping mission in March 1999 and has collected data for a full Martian year, equivalent to about two Earth years. Those comprehensive observations are proving invaluable to understanding the seasonal changes on Mars.


bullet28 January 2001 - It's been fifteen years since the Challenger exploded. CNN's John Zarrella recalls the day's tragic events. Where were you that day?

Today In Space History - Today marks the 15th anniversary of the biggest tragedy in the history of the Space Program: The Challenger disaster.  On 28 January 19867 astronauts lost their lives when Shuttle Challenger exploded just 73 seconds after launch. Mission Fact sheet here; Crew info here; Image collections here and here. Mission STS-51L was the 25th Shuttle flight, and it carried the first "Teacher In Space", Christa McAuliffe. The Challenger, (OV-99), was the second orbiter built, and had completed 9 successful missions (starting with STS-6 in 1983) before the terrible incident, which was caused by O-rings in the right solid rocket booster becoming brittle in the winter cold. The accident rocked the nation and became embedded in the minds of an entire generation. The remains of some crewmembers were buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery, and the wreckage of the spacecraft is sealed in a missile silo at Cape Canaveral. NASA grounded the Shuttle program for more than two years while safety improvements were made. The Challenger Learning Centers, dedicated to space science education, were founded in honor of the crew. Remember the brave men and women of Challenger and Apollo 1! [Date: NASA]


bullet27 January 2001 - On the eve of the Challenger anniversary, residents of Christa McAuliffe's hometown reflect quietly on the disaster which occurred fifteen years ago tomorrow.

A Progress spacecraft, Russia's unmanned cargo ship, made a flawless automated docking with the Mir space station, in preparation for its destruction. Mir will be pushed out of orbit, and is scheduled to crash into the Pacific ocean on March 6th.

Today In Space History - Today marks the 34th anniversary of a tragic day in the race for the moon: the Apollo 1 fire.  On 27 Jan 1967, three astronauts lost their lives on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral during a test procedure in preparation for what would have been the first mission in the lunar program. Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee perished when a spark ignited the pure-oxygen atmosphere of the Apollo Command Module at Pad 34. Details here [requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader]; Crew info here; Image collections here and here. The loss of AS-204 caused a delay of nearly two years in the Apollo program, resulting in many changes to the spacecraft design. In December 1997, nearly 31 years after the accident, President Clinton awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor to the fallen astronauts (their families accepted the medals). Never forget the heroes of space exploration! [Date: NASA]


bullet04 January 2001 - The NEAR-Shoemaker probe orbiting asteroid Eros is nearing the end of its mission. NASA (in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University) wants it to go out with a bang by attempting a landing on the 21-mile-long rock. They cite the chances of success at one percent (the spacecraft was not designed to land), but they say that the main goal is not the landing itself, but to get in close enough to take super-detailed pictures before its fuel runs out.

A lunar eclipse will be visible next week over Europe, Asia, and Africa. Stargazers in the northeastern US and Canada may catch the tail end of the celestial event.

You are here: An "X"-shaped gas cloud marks the spot where a nearby galaxy is forming new stars. The discovery was announced today be scientists working on the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA reports:

Hubble-X Marks the Spot of 'Nearby' Star Formation
Image of "Hubble-X", courtesy of NASA.The saying 'X' marks the spot holds true in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image where Hubble-X marks the location of a dramatic burst of star formation, very much like the Orion Nebula in our Milky Way galaxy, but on a vastly greater scale. Hubble-X sits in a glowing gas cloud in one of the most active star-forming regions within galaxy NGC 6822, one of the Milky Way's closest neighbors. For more about Hubble X, including fast facts, a comparison with the Orion Nebula, and information on the astronomers studying it, click here. Hubble-X was discovered by E. E. Barnard in 1881. Edwin P. Hubble, after whom the HST is named, used the then-new 100-inch telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory in 1925 to make the first detailed photographic investigation of NGC 6822.

More on investor Dennis Tito's planned trip to Space Station Alpha.

Today In Space History - We're going waaaaay back for this one! It's been 391 years (4 Jan 1610) since Italian astronomer (inventor, artist, etc) Galileo Galilei first used a telescope he built to observe our solar system. [Date: Catherin Gregory's Astro History]

More Space History - On 4 Jan 1958, Sputnik I, the world's first artificial satellite, re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and burned up, after its short but historic mission. Rumor has it that the launcher (a Soviet R-7 rocket) survived its re-entry and crashed in Alaska in December 1957 - but no one's talking... [Date: United Space Alliance]


bullet03 January 2001 - The European Space Agency is planning for a big year in 2001.

NASA has released a document (Adobe Acrobat file) detailing their short- and long-term plans for space exploration. Their statement here:

Strategic Plan 2000 Charts NASA's Course
NASA image of cover of strategic plan bookNASA's recently released Strategic Plan 2000 charts the agency's trajectory into the frontiers of flight, space, and knowledge. It includes both near-term priorities--flying the Space Shuttle safely and building the International Space Station--and longer-term investments in America's future--developing more affordable, reliable means of access to space and conducting cutting-edge scientific and technological research. It describes our vision for expanding air and space frontiers, serving America, and improving life on Earth.

Arthur C. Clarke has joined the thousands of people who will be sending their DNA into space in a sort of time capsule, launching in 2003.

More on the mysterious monolith that appeared in a Seattle park [see yesterday].

Just in case you're not sick of comparisons to the "real" 2001 and the movie, here's an article from the BBC...

Today In Space History - Two years ago today, (3 Jan 1999), the ill-fated Mars Polar Lander (with its two microprobes) was launched from Cape Canaveral's Pad 17B, aboard a Delta II rocket. The spacecraft lifted off successfully, but it was presumed lost during its descent to the Martian surface. [Source: NASA news]


bullet02 January 2001 - A steel monolith mysteriously appeared in a Seattle park yesterday, prompting comparisons to the one in the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film. No ape-like creatures or aliens were reported in the area, however.

Shuttle Atlantis is due to launch on 19 Jan 2001, to deliver the Station's newest module, the "Destiny" lab. Follow the flight on our new STS-98 Mission Journal.

Distant galaxies being observed now may mean the universe is much older than previously thought.

Digital radio is on its way - beamed to your car or home via satellite.

China may be gearing up for a second unmanned test of their Shenzhou spacecraft, capable of carrying astronauts (possibly 3 or 4) into orbit!

More on Wednesday morning's meteor shower (that's tonight, depending on what time zone you're in). Shooting stars should also be visible Thursday morning.

Today In Space History - Today marks the 42nd anniversary (2 Jan 1959) of the launch of Luna 1, the first man-made object to exceed escape velocity and leave the Earth's orbit. The Soviet space probe was designed to crash-land on the lunar surface, but missed and went into a solar orbit instead (becoming, accidentally, the first man-made object to orbit the sun and to discover the solar wind). [Date: The Last Frontier]


bullet01 January 2001 - Happy New Year! Happy New Millennium!! (yeah, we know we were saying that last year. Why celebrate once when you can celebrate twice?)

President-elect Bush has picked Donald Rumsfeld to be his Secretary of Defense. He is in favor of militarizing space - a very controversial issue.

Mir had another minor glitch - and the date for its demise is set - February 27th-28th!

What are the Quadrantids? No, it's not the latest boy band on MTV. They (it?) is a meteor shower that comes around every January. Bundle up and check it out this Wednesday night!

More on Cassini's close approach to Jupiter.

What caused last week's crash of a Ukrainian rocket carrying six satellites for Russia's military? It may have been a software glitch.

Today In Space History - It is the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Ceres, the first, and largest, known asteroid. On 1 Jan 1801, Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi observed asteroid Ceres. Thousands have been discovered since, mostly circling the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. [Date: Catherin Gregory's Astro History]

More Space History - Seventy-six years ago today (1 Jan 1925), American astronomer Edwin Hubble (yes, the guy they named HST after) announced that he had observed nebulae outside of our own galaxy, which made people start believing that there is a universe beyond the Milky Way. [Date: Catherin Gregory's Astro History]


To keep going back in the timeline, check the Space News Archive for December 2000, 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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