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Life on the station
NASA astronauts Bill McArthur and John Phillips chat with Associated Press space reporter Marcia Dunn about life aboard the International Space Station in this live space-to-Earth interview from the Destiny laboratory module on October 5.
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West Coast Delta 4
In preparation for the West Coast launch of Boeing's next-generation Delta 4 rocket, the two-stage vehicle is rolled out of its horizontal hangar and driven to the Space Launch Complex-6 pad for erection. The nose cone for the NRO payload is then brought to the pad.
West Coast shuttle
Boeing's Delta 4 rocket pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base was renovated in recent years, transforming Space Launch Complex-6 from the West Coast space shuttle launch site into a facility for the next-generation unmanned booster. This collection of footage shows the 1985 launch pad test using NASA's orbiter Enterprise.
News briefing from ISS
The Expedition 11 and Expedition 12 crews, along with space tourist Greg Olsen, hold a live news conference with American and Russian reporters on October 4. (26min 36sec file)
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Next ISS crew lifts off
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft safely launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome Friday night with the International Space Station's twelfth resident crew and a paying tourist aboard.
Discovery crew's movies
The seven astronauts of space shuttle Discovery's return to flight mission recently gathered for a public celebration of their mission. They narrated an entertaining movie of highlights and personal footage taken during the mission.
GPS satellite launched
The Boeing Delta 2 rocket roars off Cape Canaveral's launch pad 17A carrying the first modernized Global Positioning System satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
Back to the Moon!
NASA unveils the agency's blueprint for building the future spacecraft and launch vehicles needed for mankind's return to the lunar surface in the next decade.
Distant space explosion
Astronomers announce the detection by NASA's Swift satellite of the most distant explosion yet, a gamma-ray burst from the edge of the visible universe, during this media teleconference held Monday, September 12. (54min 01sec file)
Hill-climbing Mars rover
The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has reached the summit of Husband Hill, returning a spectacular panorama from the hilltop in the vast Gusev Crater. Scientists held a news conference Sept. 1 to reveal the panorama and give an update on the twin rover mission.
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Titan's enigmatic bright spot is surface make-up
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: October 6, 2005
A 300-mile-wide patch that outshines everything else on Titan at long infrared wavelengths appears not to be a mountain, a cloud or a geologically active hot spot, University of Arizona scientists and Cassini team members say.
"We must be looking at a difference in surface composition," said Jason W.
Barnes, a postdoctoral researcher at UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab. "That's
exciting because this is the first evidence that says not all of the bright
areas on Titan are the same. Now we have to figure out what those
differences are, what might have caused them."
Combined VIMS and ISS images of Titan's mysterious bright red spot gives researchers more information about the feature than either single view. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/Space Science Institute
When NASA's Cassini spacecraft flew by Titan on March 31 and again on April
16, its visual and infrared mapping spectrometer saw a feature that was
spectacularly bright at 5-micron wavelengths just southeast of the
continent-sized region called Xanadu.
The bright spot occurs where Cassini's visible-wavelength imaging cameras
photographed a bright arc-shaped feature approximately the same size in
December 2004 and February 2005.
Cassini's radar instrument, operating in the "passive" mode that is
sensitive to microwaves emitted from a planetary surface, saw no
temperature difference between the bright spot and surrounding region.
That rules out the possibility that the 5-micron bright spot is a hot
spot, such as a geologically active ice volcano, Barnes said.
Cassini microwave radiometry also failed to detect a temperature drop that
would show up if some two-mile high mountain rose from Titan's surface, he
And if the 5-micron bright spot is a cloud, it's a cloud that hasn't moved
or changed shape for three years, according to ground-based observations
made at the Keck Telescope and with Cassini's visual and infrared mapping
spectrometer during five different flybys. "If this is a cloud," Barnes
said, "it would have to be a persistent ground fog, like San Francisco on
steroids, always foggy, all the time."
"The bright spot must be a patch of surface with a composition different
from anything we've seen yet. Titan's surface is primarily composed of ice.
It could be that something is contaminating the ice here, but what this
might be is not clear," Barnes said.
"There's a lot left to explore about Titan. It's a very complex, exciting
place. It's not obvious how it works. It's going to be a lot of fun over
the next couple of years figuring out how Titan works," he said.
Barnes and 34 other scientists report the research in the Oct. 7 issue of
Science. Authors include UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory scientists and
Cassini team members Robert H. Brown, head of Cassini's visual and infrared
mapping spectrometer team; Elizabeth P. Turtle and Alfred S. McEwen of the
Cassini imaging team; Ralph D. Lorenz of the Cassini radar team; Caitlin
Griffith of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping team; and Jason Perry
and Stephanie Fussner, who work with McEwen and Turtle on Cassini imaging.
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, Calif.,
manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.
The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed
and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science
Institute in Boulder, Colo. The Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer
team is based at The University of Arizona in Tucson.