On the rim of 'Victoria Crater'

Opportunity reached the rim of "Victoria Crater" in Mars' Meridiani Planum region with a 26-meter (85-foot) drive during the rover's 951st Martian day, or sol (Sept. 26, 2006).

After the drive, the rover's navigation camera took the three exposures combined into this view of the crater's interior. This crater has been the mission's long-term destination for the past 21 Earth months.

NGC 3576: Massive stars revealed by Chandra

NGC 3576 is a giant HII region of glowing gas located about 9,000 light years from Earth. In the Chandra image of this star forming region, lower-energy X-rays (0.5-2.0 keV) are shown in red and higher-energy X-rays (2-8 keV) are in blue.

Chandra reveals a cluster of point-like X-ray sources, some of which are massive young stars that are shredding the cloud of gas from which they formed. The blue sources are stars that are deeply embedded in gas. Regions of diffuse X-ray emission are likely caused by hot winds flowing away from the most massive stars. Some of the diffuse gas near the center of the image is also deeply embedded.

Cassini Titan flyby #18 radar images

The Sept. 23, 2006 pass was primarily dedicated to the ion and neutral mass spectrometer instrument, so although, the volume of radar data was small, scientists were amazed to see Earth-like lakes.

With Titan's colder temperatures and hydrocarbon-rich atmosphere, however, the lakes likely contain a combination of methane and ethane, not water.

Jupiter Ahoy!

Blazing along its path to Pluto, NASA's New Horizons has come within hailing distance of Jupiter. The first picture of the giant planet from the spacecraft's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), taken Sept. 4, 2006, is a tantalizing promise of what's to come when New Horizons flies through the Jupiter system early next year.

New Horizons was still 291 million kilometers (nearly 181 million miles) away from Jupiter when LORRI took the photo. As New Horizons comes much closer, next January and February, LORRI will take more-detailed images.

Mars missions extended

NASA's Mars robotic missions are performing so well, they are being prepared for additional overtime work.

The team operating the twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, since January 2004, won approval for an additional year of exploration. NASA funded the extensions on recommendations from an outside panel of scientists. NASA also is adding two more years of operations for Mars Global Surveyor, which has been orbiting Mars since 1997, and the Mars Odyssey orbiter, at the red planet since 2001.

HiRISE camera will take first close-up pictures of Mars on Sept. 29

The most powerful camera ever to orbit Mars will get its first close look at the Red Planet on Friday.

The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera flying aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will relay its first low-altitude images to scientists at The University of Arizona beginning Friday afternoon, Sept. 29.

Solar-B renamed 'Hinode' after launch

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the 22nd Scientific Satellite (SOLAR-B) aboard the M-V Launch Vehicle No. 7 (M-V-7) at 6:36 a.m. on September 23, 2006 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Uchinoura Space Center (USC). The launcher was set to a vertical angle of 82.0 degrees, and the flight azimuth was 149.3 degrees.

The launch vehicle flew smoothly, and after the third stage engine burnout, it was confirmed that the satellite was safely injected into its scheduled orbit of a perigee altitude of approximately 280 km and an apogee altitude of approximately 686 km with an inclination of approximately 98.3 degrees.

Hubble finds hundreds of young galaxies in the early universe

The discovery is scientifically invaluable for understanding the origin of galaxies, considering that just a decade ago early galaxy formation was largely uncharted territory. Astronomers had not seen even one galaxy that existed when the Universe was a billion years old, so finding 500 in a Hubble survey is a significant leap forward for cosmologists.

The galaxies unveiled by Hubble are smaller than today's giant galaxies and very bluish in colour, indicating they are ablaze with star birth. The images appear red because of the galaxies' tremendous distance from Earth. The blue light from their young stars took nearly 13 billion years to arrive at Earth. During the journey, the blue light was shifted to red light due to the expansion of space.

Cydonia - the face on Mars

ESA's Mars Express has obtained images of the Cydonia region, site of the famous 'Face on Mars.' The High Resolution Stereo Camera photos include some of the most spectacular views of the Red Planet ever.

After multiple attempts to image the Cydonia region from April 2004 until July 2006 were frustrated by altitude and atmospheric dust and haze, the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board Mars Express finally obtained, on 22 July, a series of images that show the famous 'face' on Mars in unprecedented detail.

GLAST observatory ready for final assembly

The primary instrument for NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) arrived at General Dynamics, Scottsdale, Ariz., on September 18 for mounting onto the spacecraft.

The instrument, called the Large Area Telescope, successfully completed four months of vigorous testing last week at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, to ensure it can withstand the rigors of launch and operations in space.

Scientists discover new ring and other features at Saturn

Saturn sports a new ring in an image taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Sunday, Sept. 17, during a one-of-a-kind observation. Other spectacular sights captured by Cassini's cameras include wispy fingers of icy material stretching out tens of thousands of kilometers from the active moon, Enceladus, and a cameo color appearance by planet Earth.

The images were obtained during the longest solar occultation of Cassini's four-year mission. During a solar occultation, the sun passes directly behind Saturn, and Cassini lies in the shadow of Saturn while the rings are brilliantly backlit. Usually, an occultation lasts only about an hour, but this time it was a 12-hour marathon.

Opportunity takes first peek into Victoria Crater

On Monday, NASA's Mars rover Opportunity got to within about 160 feet of the rim of the half-mile-wide Victoria Crater, the rover's destination since late 2004.

The new position gave Opportunity a glimpse of the crater's opposite wall.

Ground-piercing radar on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter ready for work

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has extended the long-armed antenna of its radar, preparing the instrument to begin probing for underground layers of Mars.

The orbiter's Shallow Subsurface Radar, provided by the Italian Space Agency, will search to depths of about one kilometer (six-tenths of a mile) to find and map layers of ice, rock and, if present, liquid water.

Scientists snap first images of brown dwarf in planetary system

Scientists using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered and directly imaged a small brown dwarf star, 50 times the mass of Jupiter, orbiting with a planet around a Sun-like star. Such an arrangement has never before been seen but might be common, the scientists say, leading to solar systems with distorted planetary orbits.

Kevin Luhman of Penn State University is the lead author on a report describing this discovery, which will be published in The Astrophysical Journal. The discovery concerns a class of the coldest brown dwarfs, called T dwarfs.

New evidence links stellar remains to oldest-recorded supernova

Recent observations have uncovered evidence that helps to confirm the identification of the remains of one of the earliest stellar explosions recorded by humans.

The new study shows that the supernova remnant RCW 86 is much younger than previously thought. As such, the formation of the remnant appears to coincide with a supernova observed by Chinese astronomers in 185 A.D. The study used data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory.


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