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Total solar eclipse
A total solar eclipse occurred March 29. This video from Side, Turkey shows the period of totality when the moon slid between the Earth and Sun. The eclipse revealed the Sun's glowing outer halo of million-degree gas, called the solar corona.
Dawn mission reborn
In early March, NASA cancelled its Dawn mission built to orbit two of the solar system's largest asteroids using ion engine propulsion. Technical problems and cost overruns were blamed. But in this news conference from March 27, agency officials announce NASA's decision to reverse the cancellation and restart the mission.
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Lockheed Martin holds this news conference in Houston on March 24 to announced that it is partnering with the State of Texas to locate the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) program office in Houston, as well as systems engineering, software development and qualification testing, if the corporation wins the NASA contract to build the next generation spacecraft for NASA.
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Expedition 12 recap
As the Expedition 12 mission aboard the International Space Station winds down, officials managing the flight from Mission Control in Houston hold this retrospective briefing to talk about the highs and lows, the science, the spacewalks and everything in between.
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Expedition 13 preview
International Space Station officials preview the next Expedition mission to the orbiting outpost, which is scheduled for launch March 29. The preview was given during a briefing March 22 from Johnson Space Center.
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STS-41B: Human satellite
One of the iconic moments of the early space shuttle program was astronaut Bruce McCandless floating above the brilliantly blue Earth completely disconnected from his spacecraft. He was testing the Manned Maneuvering Unit, a jet-powered backpack that would enable spacewalkers to travel away from the space shuttle to service satellites. In this post-flight presentation, the crew of Challenger's STS-41B mission of February 1984 narrate the film highlights from their mission that also included the first shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Center.
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Cassini changes earlier belief about Saturn A-ring
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO-BOULDER NEWS RELEASE
Posted: April 6, 2006
Views of Saturn's stunning ring system from above by the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft now orbiting the planet indicate the prominent A ring contains more debris than once thought, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study.
Previous observations with the Voyager spacecraft in the
early 1980s found the ring was more transparent, indicating less
material, said Joshua Colwell of CU-Boulder's Laboratory for
Atmospheric and Space Physics. But new calculations based on May
2005 observations with Cassini's Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph, or
UVIS, indicates the opacity of the ring is up to 35 percent higher
than previously reported.
This image is a false-color ultraviolet view of Saturn's B ring (center) and A ring (right), separated by a large gap known as the Cassini Division. It shows a bright horizontal streak, created by a series of time lapse images involving a star named 26 Taurus. The image was made over a nine-hour period as the star drifted behind the rings. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Colorado
Because of the uneven distribution of the ring particles -
which range in size from dust grains to school buses - the
transparency of the rings depends on the angle from which they are
viewed, he said. The particles are arranged essentially parallel in
long stringy clumps as large as 60 feet across, 16 feet thick and 160
feet long, according to models produced from observation data, said
A paper on the subject by Colwell, Larry Esposito and Miodrag
Sremcevic of CU-Boulder's LASP appears in the April 1 issue of
Geophysical Research Letters, or GRL. Esposito is science team leader
for UVIS, a $12.5 million instrument designed and built at CU-Boulder
by LASP that is riding on the Cassini spacecraft.
A new image released by the team in conjunction with the GRL
paper shows the distribution of the ring material. The opaque B ring
has more material than the A ring, located just outside it, and the A
ring is densest near its inner edge, according to the team. The new
clumps observed by Cassini mean a larger amount of material overall
said Colwell, a LASP research associate and UVIS science team member.
The particles are trapped in ever-changing clusters of debris
that are regularly torn apart and reassembled by gravitational forces
from the planet, Colwell said. The size and behavior of the clusters
were deduced by observing flickering light as the ring passed in
front of a star in a process known as stellar occultation, he said.
"The flickers are like a time-lapse movie of a car's
headlights taken from the other side of a picket fence," said
Colwell. "The flickering would provide us details about the pickets."
The observations of the particle clusters indicate the A ring
is primarily empty space. A close-up view of the rings would show as
"short, flattened strands of spiral arms with very few particles
between them," he said.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA,
the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for
NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.
The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at