September 2004

Robotic Hunt for Earth-like Worlds

September 21, 2004

A network of robotic telescopes called RoboNet-1.0 will soon join the hunt for Earth-like planets around other stars. RoboNet will look for the effects of gravitational micro-lensing, where distant light is bent around an unseen foreground object. A star whose light is undergoing such lensing would, if it had a planet, show a blip in […]

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Good News from Saturn

September 20, 2004

The European Space Agency has announced that the Huygens probe has passed its second to last in-flight checkout, in preparation for deployment to Titan in December. The critical Mission Timer Unit is in good health, a must given the fact that Huygens will coast for several weeks after being released by the Cassini Saturn orbiter. […]

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The View from Antarctica

September 20, 2004

A team of Australian researchers has built an unmanned observatory high on an Antarctic plateau that may provide images nearly the equal of Hubble’s. That’s the word from Nature, where University of New South Wales associate professor Michael Ashley, co-author of the paper, described the capabilities of the new viewing site. The paper’s lead author […]

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More Power for Deep Space Missions

September 17, 2004

Scottish minister Robert Stirling developed an engine in the 19th Century that used heated air instead of steam as the motive force for a piston engine. Now an acoustical version of the principle has emerged. As described in an article in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters, a joint team from Los Alamos National […]

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Lasers for Deep Space Communications

September 16, 2004

Here’s an interesting observation from Joss Bland-Hawthorn, who is head of instrument science at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Sydney: “Astronomers are losing vast amounts of data from recent satellite missions to Mars. We collect a hundred times more than we can transmit back.” The comment appears in the current issue of New Scientist, in an […]

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To Build a Spacefaring Civilization

September 15, 2004

When Bernard Foing, chief lunar scientist for the European Space Agency, suggested last week that a DNA library be placed on the moon in the event of some unspecified catastrophe on Earth, he was surely thinking about similar projects already at work on a more terrestrial level. As reported recently, a project called Frozen […]

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Images of Two Possible Planets Remain Unconfirmed

September 14, 2004

An interesting piece in Nature‘s online edition describes the race to see who has actually imaged a planet around another star. As discussed in Centauri Dreams earlier, a team in Chile at the European Southern Observatory has used infrared to reveal what may be a planet circling the star 2M1207, a brown dwarf, but there […]

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News Improving for Genesis Mission

September 13, 2004

Even as NASA announced the head of the Genesis Mishap Investigation Board (Dr. Michael Ryschkewitsch, Director of the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center), unexpectedly good news from the mission continued to mount. At least two of the four segments of the solar wind concentrator Genesis carried seem to be […]

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Life Detection for Advanced Missions

September 12, 2004

Because its geology is so much like that of Mars, the Norwegian island of Svalbard is a useful site for creating strategies for future mission sampling and analysis. The Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expedition (AMASE) has been using a suite of instruments to detect bacterial populations including spectroscopic equipment and a device that can detect […]

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Possible Image of an Extrasolar World

September 11, 2004

Getting an image of a planet around another star has been an elusive goal for astronomers, and most candidates have proven to be background stars, or sometimes faint stellar members of what turned out to be binary systems. Now a new candidate has emerged. An international team of astronmers, using observations from the the ESO […]

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