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Cassini preview
The Cassini spacecraft's arrival at Saturn is previewed in this detailed news conference from NASA Headquarters on June 3. (50min 01sec file)
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Relive Cassini's launch
An Air Force Titan 4B rocket launches NASA's Cassini spacecraft at 4:43 a.m. October 15, 1997 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. (5min 15sec file)
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Exploring the hills
"A brand new mission" is beginning for the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit as it nears the Columbia Hills as described in this presentation by science team member James Rice. (5min 57sec file)
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Exploring Endurance
New pictures from the Mars rover Opportunity as it drives around the rim of Endurance Crater are presented with narration by science team member Wendy Calvin. (5min 25sec file)
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Mars rover update
Mission officials and scientists discuss the condition and progress of Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity plus the latest science news in this briefing from June 2. (40min 55sec file)
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Options to save Hubble
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announces plans to examine a robotic servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. (33min 51sec file)
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Station supply ship
Ride along with the Progress 14P resupply ship as it makes the final approach and docking to the International Space Station on May 27 as seen by a camera mounted on the craft's nose. (9min 02sec file)
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Results from Spitzer
Scientists present new discoveries from the Spitzer Space Telescope, including their findings of raw ingredients for life detected around young stars. (53min 03sec file)
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Spacewalk previewed
The Expedition 9 crew describes their upcoming spacewalk in Russian spacesuits, life aboard the space station and the view of Earth in this interview with Bill Harwood of CBS News. (20min 19sec file)
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Progress undocking
The Progress 13P cargo ship departs the International Space Station on May 24 carrying trash and unneeded items to burn up in the atmosphere. (2min 56sec file)
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AP interviews the crew
The Associated Press interviews the two-man Expedition 9 crew living aboard the International Space Station on May 24. (9min 36sec file)
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Pinwheel Galaxy's hidden wonders revealed
HARVARD-SMITHSONIAN CENTER FOR ASTROPHYSICS NEWS RELEASE
Posted: June 4, 2004

Like nosy neighbors, astronomers are spying on one of the nearest galaxies to our Milky Way. In studying the Pinwheel Galaxy, also known as Messier 33 (M33), they seek not malicious gossip but new knowledge as they search for clues to how galaxies like our own are born, live, and die.

At the 204th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Denver, Colorado, astronomers from the University of Minnesota, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), and the University of Arizona unveiled new infrared images of M33 taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The photos reveal features of the galaxy never before visible.


This Spitzer Space Telescope image of the Pinwheel Galaxy (M33) reveals a multitude of dusty red spiral arms studded with bright knots marking star formation regions. By studying this nearby galaxy in detail, astronomers can see "the Universe in a nutshell." Credit: E. Polomski et al. (University of Minnesota), G. Fazio et al. (SAO)
 
About 50,000 light-years across, the spiral galaxy M33 is half the diameter of the Milky Way. It lies 3 million light-years from the Milky Way, which places it among the Local Group of galaxies. Its nearness and viewing angle give astronomers an excellent opportunity to study M33's physical and chemical processes.

"With the Andromeda Galaxy, it's one of the two nearest large spiral galaxies comparable to the Milky Way. Since it's so close, we can get a nice panoramic view. It's a great object for detailed study," said Smithsonian astronomer Steven Willner (CfA).

"M33 is a gigantic laboratory where you can watch dust being created in novae and supernovae, being distributed in the winds of giant stars, and being reborn in new stars," said University of Minnesota researcher and lead author Elisha Polomski. By studying M33, "you can see the Universe in a nutshell."

Because it operates at infrared wavelengths, the Spitzer Space Telescope detects details hidden to the human eye and to telescopes that operate in visible light. Spitzer collects light at wavelengths measured in microns-millionths of a meter. The new pictures were taken in light at wavelengths ranging from 3.5 to 24 microns.

"At 3.5 microns, we see stars," said University of Minnesota astronomy professor Robert Gehrz, a member of the M33 observation team. "At eight microns, we see warm dust that's about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. At 24 microns, we're picking up cool dust that's between minus 100 and minus 190 degrees Fahrenheit." Spitzer's cameras also operate at 70 and 160 microns.

Observations of M33's cool components are expected to reveal much about the "metabolism" of galaxies. A galaxy is akin to a living body, in which food substances are broken down to build the body, and the waste and decomposition products of a body are recycled to feed new life. For example, the iron in Earth's core was forged in the bellies of large, luminous stars, and the heavier elements-all the way to uranium, the heaviest naturally occurring element-were created in supernova explosions. The deaths of those stars sprayed interstellar space with dust and gas, some of which clumped together in a disk that coalesced to form the sun and its planets.

The Spitzer team will examine the Pinwheel Galaxy in detail for the next two and a half years, studying the processes that circulate energy and chemical elements through the galaxy to build up, destroy, and recycle the building blocks of stars and planets. The researchers expect to identify new star-forming regions, red giant stars, novae and supernovae, thereby mapping out the evolutionary process of stars in M33 and comparing it to the process in our own Galaxy.

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. JPL is a division of Caltech.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.

Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
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Apollo 11 special patch
Special collectors' patch marking the 35th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing is now available.
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Inside Apollo mission control
An insider's view of how Apollo flight controllers operated and just what they faced when events were crucial.
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The ultimate Apollo 11 DVD
This exceptional chronicle of the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission features new digital transfers of film and television coverage unmatched by any other.
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Next ISS crew
Own a little piece of history with this official patch for the International Space Station's Expedition 11 crew. We'll ship yours today!
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Soviet Space
For the first time ever available in the West. Rocket & Space Corporation Energia: a complete pictorial history of the Soviet/Russian Space Program from 1946 to the present day all in full color. Available from our store.
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Viking patch
This embroidered mission patch celebrates NASA's Viking Project which reached the Red Planet in 1976.
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Apollo 7 DVD
For 11 days the crew of Apollo 7 fought colds while they put the Apollo spacecraft through a workout, establishing confidence in the machine what would lead directly to the bold decision to send Apollo 8 to the moon just 2 months later.
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Gemini 12
Gemini 12: The NASA Mission Reports covers the voyage of James Lovell and Buzz Aldrin that capped the Gemini program's efforts to prove the technologies and techniques that would be needed for the Apollo Moon landings. Includes CD-ROM.
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Apollo patches
The Apollo Patch Collection: Includes all 12 Apollo mission patches plus the Apollo Program Patch. Save over 20% off the Individual price.
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STS-134 Patch

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The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!
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Final Shuttle Mission Patch

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The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!
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Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
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STS-133 Patch

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The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!
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Anniversary Shuttle Patch

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This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
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Mercury anniversary

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Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
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