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The space shuttle Columbia disintegrated in flames over Texas yesterday just 16 minutes from home. All seven astronauts - six Americans and an Israeli - died as the shuttle broke apart, traveling 39 miles above the Earth at 12,500 m.p.h., and rained debris over hundreds of miles of countryside. See & 

Confirmation of the Big Bang. Hugh Ross explains the latest discovering of polarized light confirming the Big Bang. Audio at  also see Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation's Polarization Detected at Last: Although it was discovered less than 40 years ago, the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation has been around a lot longer than that. A relic from the early days of the Universe more than 14 billion years ago, the CMB is the oldest radiation on record. Current cosmological models posit that the CMB should be slightly polarized but this property has never been observed--until now.

Speed Of Gravity Measured: Charlottesville - Jan 09, 2003 - Taking advantage of a rare cosmic alignment, scientists have made the first measurement of the speed at which the force of gravity propagates, giving a numerical value to one of the last unmeasured fundamental constants of physics. See 

The Strange Case Of The Missing Moon's Magnetism: A 30-year-old riddle over the Moon's lost magnetism may finally be answered, scientists report on Thursday in Nature, the British science weekly. See 

New Moons Found Around Neptune: Boston - Jan 14, 2003 - A team of astronomers led by Matthew Holman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and JJ Kavelaars (National Research Council of Canada) has discovered three previously unknown moons of Neptune. See 

The Oldest Light in the Universe: Huntsville - Feb 13, 2003 - NASA has released the best "baby picture" of the Universe ever taken; the image contains such stunning detail that it may be one of the most important scientific results of recent years. Scientists used NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) to capture the new cosmic portrait, which reveals the afterglow of the big bang, a.k.a. the cosmic microwave background. See

December 2003

December 21

Saturn To Ring In The New Year. Huntsville - Dec 14, 2003
When the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31st, heralding the start of 2004, dash outside and look up. Directly overhead you'll see a yellow star outshining the others around it. That star is a planet: Saturn, having its closest encounter with Earth for the next 29 years.

Recycling keeps planets' rings going
Give and take with moons means debris halos can last forever.

UK Scientists All Set For New Year Encounter With A Comet. London - Dec 17, 2003
On January 2nd 2004 the NASA space mission, Stardust, will fly through comet Wild 2, capturing interstellar particles and dust and returning them to Earth in 2006. Space scientists from the Open University and University of Kent have developed one of the instruments which will help tell us more about comets and the evolution of our own solar system and, critical for Stardust, its survival in the close fly-by of the comet.

Dust explains shooting stars' twin streaks
Rise and fall makes some meteors leave two trails in night sky.

Beagle 2 Landing Site In 3D. London - Dec 17, 2003
As the time for Beagle 2 separation approaches a 3D representation of the landing site is available for download. Keyhole is a revolutionary software product that enables computer users to interact with a 3D model of a planet directly on the own PC.

Has ESA's Xmm-Newton Cast Doubt Over Dark Energy? Paris - Dec 17, 2003
ESA's X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, has returned tantalising new data about the nature of the Universe. In a survey of distant clusters of galaxies, XMM-Newton has found puzzling differences between today's clusters of galaxies and those present in the Universe around seven thousand million years ago. Some scientists claim that this can be interpreted to mean that the 'dark energy' which most astronomers now believe dominates the Universe simply does not exist?

An Odyssey Of Mars Science: Part 1. Sacramento - Dec 18, 2003
This year's meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences -- the Solar System-related branch of the American Astronomical Society provided the most detailed reports yet on Martian science using data from the Odyssey and Surveyor missions. SpaceDaily's Bruce Moomaw attended the 2004 DPS meeting and in a series of reports over coming weeks Moomaw will provide readers with an overview of the latest science from Mars.

Spitzer's IRAC Camera Snaps Spectacular First Images. Washington - Dec 18, 2003
NASA released Thursday the first spectacular images from the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) instrument on board the Spitzer Space Telescope. The pictures, taken at infrared wavelengths of light, revealed remarkable details in objects ranging from nearby star formation regions to distant spiral galaxies. The images are but a taste of what will come from IRAC, which was developed for NASA by a team led by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), with Giovanni Fazio as the Principal Investigator.

Spitzer Detects Organic Chemistry In Highly Luminous Galaxy.

December 14

Firestorm Of Star Birth Seen In A Local Galaxy. Baltimore - Dec 08, 2003
This festively colorful nebula, called NGC 604, is one of the largest known seething cauldrons of star birth in a nearby galaxy. NGC 604 is similar to familiar star-birth regions in our Milky Way galaxy, such as the Orion Nebula, but it is vastly larger in extent and contains many more recently formed stars.

Rings Around The Planets: Recycling Of Material May Extend Ring Lifetimes. Boulder - Dec 09, 2003
Although rings around planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are relatively short-lived, new evidence implies that the recycling of orbiting debris can lengthen the lifetime of such rings, according to University of Colorado researchers.

Planet-formation Model Indicates Earthlike Planets Might Be Common.
Astrobiologists disagree about whether advanced life is common or rare in our universe. But new research suggests that one thing is pretty certain – if an Earthlike world with significant water is needed for advanced life to evolve, there could be many candidates. In 44 computer simulations of planet formation near a sun, astronomers found that each simulation produced one to four Earthlike planets, including 11 so-called "habitable" planets about the same distance from their stars as Earth is from our sun.

Interstellar Hydrogen Shadow Observed For The First Time. San Francisco - Dec 09, 2003
More than a year before the Cassini spacecraft arrives at Saturn, the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) has made the first in situ observations of interstellar pickup ions beyond the orbit of Jupiter. This is the first major discovery using data gathered by CAPS, destined to reach Saturn in July 2004.

The Big Crunch. Moffett Field - Dec 09, 2003
Cosmologists model the end of the universe as The Big Crunch-they roughly reverse the simulations of how the expansive Big Bang might have spawned all the stars and planets. But for those interested in what is happening between the bang and the crunch on those uncountable number of planets, the big crunch can mean something different.

Trail Of Black Holes And Neutron Stars Points To Ancient Collision.
An image of an elliptical galaxy by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed a trail of black holes and neutron stars stretching more than fifty thousand light years across space. The trail of intense X-ray sources is evidence that this apparently sedate galaxy collided with another galaxy a few billion years ago.

NASA Scientists Use Radar To Detect Asteroid Force. Pasadena - Dec 08, 2003
NASA scientists have for the first time detected a tiny but theoretically important force acting on asteroids by measuring an extremely subtle change in a near-Earth asteroid's orbital path.

Whitehouse Pops Trial Lunar Balloon On Launch.

Mars Is Just Around The Corner. Paris - Dec 11, 2003
After a journey of 400 million km, ESA's Mars Express is now approaching its final destination. On 19 December, the spacecraft is scheduled to release the Beagle 2 lander it has been carrying since its launch on 2 June.

December 7

New Evidence For Solar-Like Planetary System Around Nearby Star. Edinburgh - Dec 01, 2003
Astronomers at the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Councils UK Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC) at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh have produced compelling new evidence that Vega, one of the brightest stars in the sky, has a planetary system around it which is more like our own Solar System than any other so far discovered.

Genesis Scooping Up Solar Wind. Pasadena - Dec 01, 2003
The Genesis spacecraft continues its mission collecting solar wind material expelled from the Sun. Telemetry from the Genesis spacecraft indicates that all spacecraft subsystems are reporting nominal operation.

NASA Spacecraft Pinpoints Where the Wild Thing is. Pasadena - Dec 02, 2003
Forty-nine days before its historic rendezvous with a comet, NASA's Stardust spacecraft successfully photographed its quarry, comet Wild 2 (pronounced Vilt-2), from 25 million kilometers (15.5 million miles) away. The image, the first of many comet portraits it will take over the next four weeks, will aid Stardust's navigators and scientists as they plot their final trajectory toward a Jan. 2, 2004 flyby and collection of samples from Wild 2.

Pulsar Find Boosts Hope For Gravity-Wave Hunters. Canberra - Dec 04, 2003
Neutron star pairs may merge and give off a burst of gravity waves about six times more often than previously thought, scientists report in today's issue of the journal Nature [4 December].

November 2003

November 30

As Universe Comes Apart, Electrons Cling Tightly To Protons Boston - Nov 25, 2003
In this topsy-turvy world of changing trends and stormy alliances, two Northeastern University scientists propose an answer to why even the fundamental constants of nature don't seem constant anymore. The bond between electrons and protons, called the fine structure constant, or alpha, may not be constant and may have been 200,000 times weaker about ten billion years ago.

Solar storms trip magnetic flip
Sun sloughs magnetic field, leaving a reversed one in its place. 24 November 2003.

Does Vacuum Energy Really Dominate The Cosmos? Toulouse - Nov 25, 2003
New results from a study of distant galaxy clusters, observed as they were when the universe was only half as old as it is today, lead to some surprising conclusions.

Lonely planet formed just like a star
Planets can be spawned by the same process that makes stars, say astronomers who have discovered a developing planet floating alone in a stellar nursery.

Europa: Frozen Ocean in Motion. Moffett Field - Nov 27, 2003
The Jovian moon, Europa, is the smallest of the four satellites first discovered by Galileo in 1610. Slightly smaller than the Earth's moon, Europa's two-thousand mile diameter however reflects about five times as much light as our Moon.

November 23

Sun Sheds Skin And Flips. Greenbelt - Nov 20, 2003
Research with the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft has revealed the process that may implement the reversal in the direction of the Sun's magnetic field that is known to occur every 11 years. This newly recognized factor in the Sun's magnetic flipping is the cumulative effect of more than a thousand huge eruptions called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). (Note that Kent Hovind does not believe a magnetic field can reverse especially on earth)

Is The Sun An Iron-Rich Powerhouse. Rolla - Nov 18, 2003
The spate of solar storms to hit Earth in recent days may be caused by the sun's iron-rich interior, says a UMR researcher who theorizes that the sun's core is made of iron rather than hydrogen.

Most Distant X-Ray Jet Discovered Provides Clues To Big Bang (November 18, 2003)
The most distant jet ever observed was discovered in an image of a quasar made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Extending more than 100,000 light-years from the supermassive black hole powering the quasar, the jet of high-energy particles provides astronomers with information about the intensity of the cosmic microwave background radiation 12 billion years ago.

November 16

Mars-Like Atacama Desert Could Explain Viking No Life Results. Moffett Field - Nov 10, 2003
A team of scientists from NASA, the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Louisiana State University and several other research organizations has discovered clues from one of Earth's driest deserts about the limits of life on Earth, and why past missions to Mars may have failed to detect life.

Delta-Like Fan On Mars Suggests Ancient Rivers Were Persistent
Newly seen details in a fan-shaped apron of debris on Mars may help settle a decades-long debate about whether the planet had long-lasting rivers instead of just brief, intense floods.

Lunar Polar Ice Not Found With Arecibo Radar. Arecibo - Nov 13, 2003
Despite evidence from two space probes in the 1990s, radar astronomers say they can find no signs of thick ice at the moon's poles. If there is water at the lunar poles, the researchers say, it is widely scattered and permanently frozen inside the dust layers, something akin to terrestrial permafrost. See also

Despite Appearances, Cosmic Explosions Have Common Origin. Socorro - Nov 11, 2003
A Fourth of July fireworks display features bright explosions that light the sky with different colors, yet all have the same cause. They just put their explosive energy into different colors of light. Similarly, astronomers have discovered, a variety of bright cosmic explosions all have the same origin and the same amount of total energy.

Integral Produces Map Of Galactic Mineral Wealth Distribution. Paris - Nov 12, 2003
ESA's gamma-ray observatory Integral is making excellent progress, mapping the Galaxy at key gamma-ray wavelengths. It is now poised to give astronomers their truest picture yet of recent changes in the Milky Way's chemical composition. At the same time, it has confirmed an 'antimatter' mystery at the centre of the Galaxy.

November 9

Flares Near Edge Of Our Galaxy's Central Black Hole Indicate Rapid Spin (November 3, 2003)
Razor-sharp optics on ground-based telescopes now allows astronomers to peer at events occurring near the very edge of our galaxy's central black hole, providing new clues about the massive but invisible object at the core of the Milky Way.

The Curious Tale of Asteroid Hermes. Pasadena - Nov 03, 2003
It's dogma now: an asteroid hit Earth 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs. But in 1980 when scientists Walter and Luis Alvarez first suggested the idea to a gathering at the American Association for Advancement of Sciences, their listeners were skeptical. Asteroids hitting Earth? Wiping out species? It seemed incredible.

Holes in space are not empty
Universe may be full of great dark voids where rules are different. November 3, 2003.

The Universal Ghost Of Dark Matter. Berkeley - Nov 06, 2003
The "dark matter" that comprises a still-undetected one-quarter of the universe is not a uniform cosmic fog, says a University of California, Berkeley, astrophysicist, but instead forms dense clumps that move about like dust motes dancing in a shaft of light.

Astronomers Find Nearest Galaxy To The Milky Way. Canberra - Nov 05, 2003
An international team of astronomers from France, Italy, the UK and Australia has found a previously unknown galaxy colliding with our own Milky Way.

Volcanic Lake May Hold Clues to Mars Life. Nov. 4, 2003
A team of scientists is making its way to a lake at the top of the world where, despite blasting solar radiation and little protection from atmospheric ozone, life took hold and continues to thrive today.

World's Single Largest Telescope Mirror Moves To The LBT. Tucson - Nov 04, 2003
The world's most powerful optical telescope, which will allow astronomers to see planets around nearby stars in our galaxy, took a giant step closer to completion late last week when the first of its huge 27-foot diameter mirrors inched up a tortuous mountain road to its new home at Arizona's Mount Graham International Observatory.

November 2

Gravity Probe B To Test Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Washington - Oct 23, 2003
NASA's spacecraft, Gravity Probe B is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg AFB aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket December 6, 2003. The GP-B mission is expected to be approximately 16 months long and its objective is to test Einstein's unverified theory of relativity that states space and time are very slightly distorted by the presence of massive objects.

Sunlight makes asteroids spin in strange ways. Boulder - Oct 27, 2003
A new study by researchers at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Charles University (Prague) has found that sunlight can have surprisingly important effects on the spins of small asteroids. The study indicates that sunlight may play a more important role in determining asteroid spin rates than collisions, which were previously thought to control asteroid spin rates. Results will be published in the Sept. 11 issue of Nature.

Sun more active than for a millennium
A study of ice cores reconstructs sunspot intensity for the last 1150 years - "we are living with a very unusual Sun", say researchers.  

Biggest map of Universe clinches dark energy
The largest, most detailed map to date shows beyond doubt that most of the cosmos is composed of mysterious energy.

Universe Began Not With A Bang, But A Hum. Paris (AFP) Oct 30, 2003
The explosion that gave birth to the Universe sounded not so much like a Big Bang than a Deep Hum, it was reported.

Chandra Looks Into Black Box Of Cosmic Hell. Boston - Oct 29, 2003
A series of Chandra observations of the spiral galaxy NGC 1637 has provided a dramatic view of a violent, restless nature that belies its serene optical image. Over a span of 21 months, intense neutron star and black hole X-ray sources flashed on and off, giving the galaxy the appearance of a cosmic Christmas tree.

October 2003

October 26

The Missing Link In Planet Formation. Pasadena - Oct 21, 2003
Just as anthropologists sought "the missing link" between apes and humans, astronomers are embarking on a quest for a missing link in planetary evolution. Only instead of dusty fields and worn shovels, their laboratory is the universe, and their tool of choice is NASA's new Space Infrared Telescope Facility.

Integral Space Telescope Discovers Hidden Black Holes. Paris - Oct 20, 2003
Integral, ESA's powerful gamma-ray space telescope, has discovered what seems to be a new class of astronomical objects. These are binary systems, probably including a black hole or a neutron star, embedded in a thick cocoon of cold gas. They have remained invisible so far to all other telescopes. Integral was launched exactly one year ago today to study the most energetic phenomena in the universe.

Green Mineral Suggests Mars Has Been Bone Dry For A Billion Years. Tempe - Oct 24, 2003
The presence of a common green mineral on Mars suggests that the red planet could have been cold and dry since the mineral has been exposed, which may be more than a billion years according to new research appearing in the Oct. 24 edition of Science.

Large Asteroid Is Two Orbiting Objects
An asteroid that has eluded astronomers for decades turns out to be an unusual pair of objects traveling together in space. The asteroid Hermes was rediscovered last week after being lost for 66 years. Now Jean-Luc Margot, a researcher in UCLA's department of Earth and space sciences, has determined that the asteroid is, in fact, two objects orbiting each other. The two objects together would cover an area approximately the size of Disneyland.

Sun Erupts With Intense Activity. Boulder - Oct 24, 2003
Forecasters at the NOAA Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., observed two dynamic areas of the sun, one of which has produced a coronal mass ejection, or CME, Wednesday morning at 3 a.m. EDT that appears to be Earth-directed. The forecasters are predicting a strong geomagnetic storm, G-3 on the NOAA Space Weather Scales, that should reach Earth on Friday, October 24.

October 19

China Puts Man In Orbit Joining Elite Space Club With Russia And US. Jiuquan, China (AFP) Oct 15, 2003
China Wednesday launched an astronaut into space aboard the Shenzhou V craft in a historic mission which catapults the country into an elite club alongside Russia and the United States. The Long March II F rocket carrying the capsule blasted into clear skies from the remote Gobi desert in north China's Inner Mongolia at 9:00 a.m.for a 21-hour flight that will see the craft orbit the Earth 14 times.

Leonid 2003 Will Be Weak But A Double Show.
An unusual double Leonid meteor shower is going to peak next over parts of Asia and North America. Bill Cooke of the Space Environments Group at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center explains: "Normally there's just one Leonid meteor shower each year, but this year we're going to have two: one on Nov. 13th and another on Nov. 19th."

Rocks Could Reveal Secrets Of Life On Earth - And Mars. Glasgow - Oct 13, 2003
A new UK project could help detect evidence of life on Mars and improve our understanding of how life evolved on Earth. The aim is to develop a technique that can identify biomolecules in water that have been trapped in rocks for millions to billions of years.

Live Fast, And Die Young. Boston - Oct 16, 2003
Massive stars lead short, yet spectacular lives, as a new multi-wavelength image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and optical telescopes shows. X-ray (blue) and optical (red and green) data reveal dramatic details of a portion of the Crescent Nebula, a giant gaseous shell of gas created by powerful winds blowing from the doomed massive star HD 192163.

Universe could be football-shaped
Finite cosmos may be smaller than we think. October 9, 2003.

Astronomers date Universe's 'cosmic jerk'
The point when the repulsive force of dark energy overwhelmed gravity and started the accelerating expansion seen today is revealed.

Astronomers find first 'dark galaxy'
The black cloud of hydrogen gas and exotic particles is devoid of stars, which could explain why there seem to be so few dwarf galaxies.

October 12

Evidence For Hydrocarbon Lakes On Titan Found. Arecibo - Oct 07, 2003
The smog-shrouded atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, has been parted by Earth-based radar to reveal the first evidence of liquid hydrocarbon lakes on its surface. The observations are reported by a Cornell University-led astronomy team working with the world's largest radio/radar telescope at the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Arecibo Observatory.

Scientists Hunting For Alien Life.
In the past 30 years, however, our knowledge of life in extreme environments has exploded. Scientists have found microbes in nuclear reactors, microbes that love acid, microbes that swim in boiling-hot water. Whole ecosystems have been discovered around deep sea vents where sunlight never reaches and the emerging vent-water is hot enough to melt lead.

Our Lonely Galaxy: Part II. Moffett Field - Oct 08, 2003
The Drake equation was developed as a means of predicting the likelihood of detecting other intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. At the forum, Frank Drake, who formulated the equation 42 years ago, moderated a debate between Peter Ward and David Grinspoon.

Saturn-Bound Spacecraft Tests Einstein's Theory. Pasadena - Oct 07, 2003
An experiment by Italian scientists using data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, currently en route to Saturn, confirms Einstein's theory of general relativity with a precision that is 50 times greater than previous measurements.

Dodecahedral space topology as an explanation for weak wide-angle temperature correlations in the cosmic microwave background Nature 10/11/2003 p. 593

Universe Is Shaped Like A Soccer Ball. Paris (AFP) Oct 08, 2003
A team of astrophysicsts have taken a kick at the conventional view that the Universe is flat and endless, suggesting instead that the cosmos is shaped like... a football. The notion of a Universe made of curved pentagon-shaped panels is derived from a satellite mapping of the radiation that was released by the Big Bang billions of years ago and which still washes through space in the form of microwave energy.

Tantalising evidence hints Universe is finite
The data suggest the Universe is relatively small but other work seems to contradict the idea - scientists are now busy trying to resolve the conundrum.

Star 37 Gem: The Best Bet For Finding E.T. Paris (AFP) Oct 08, 2003
If there is any life out there other than on Earth, the best bet is a star called 37 Gem, according to a US astrobiologist who is drawing up a list of potential targets for a NASA deep-space telescope. 37 Gem -- the 37th brightest star in the constellation of Gemini -- tops a shortlist of 30 candidate stars that are relatively easy to observe and may have the potential for alien life, University of Arizona's Maggie Turnbull is quoted by New Scientist as saying. See also

Super Data: Hail the cosmic revolution.
Ten extremely distant supernovas recently discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope provide evidence that something is pushing objects in the cosmos apart at an ever-faster rate.

October 5

Light shed on dark matter
The outstanding mystery of modern astronomy may finally have been solved. Researchers believe they may have discovered the identity of the Universe's mysterious dark matter - the matter which cannot be seen as it emits no electromagnetic radiation but must outweigh visible matter by at least a factor of seven. The researchers believe that gamma rays coming from the centre of our galaxy carry the hall marks of these ghostly particles.

What's the Moon Made Of? Oct. 1, 2003
Space researchers have used invisible X-rays, reflecting off the surface of the moon, to find out what our nearest solar neighbor is made of and how it was formed. The research, done at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., found oxygen, magnesium, aluminum and silicon present over a large area of the Moon's surface.

MSSS Adds Another 10,000 Surveyor Images To Database. San Diego - Oct 01, 2003 - Thousands of newly released portraits of Martian landscapes from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft testify to the diversity of ways geological processes have sculpted the surface of our neighboring planet.

Age of the Universe:
"Astronomers have just developed and applied another independent tool for measuring the cosmic expansion rate and age of the universe, and it yields the same results as all the previously employed methods: a cosmic age of 13.7 billion years. This finding adds further confirmation to the idea that the expansion rate of the universe is controlled by multiple factors, and corroborates the “big bang” model, which is consistent with the biblical account that a transcendent Creator is responsible for the creation of the universe." (Reasons to Believe) Raul Jimenez, et al., “Constraints on the Equation of State of Dark Energy and the Hubble Constant from Stellar Ages and the Cosmic Microwave Background,” Astrophysical Journal 593 (August 20, 2003), 622-29.

September 2003

September 28

NASA's Galileo Space Probe Disintegrates Over Jupiter. Washington (AFP) Sep 22, 2003
NASA's Galileo space probe, which revolutionized scientists' understanding of Jupiter and its moons, made its last transmissions Sunday and then disintegrated spectacularly in Jupiter's atmosphere. National Aeronautics and Space Administration technicians in charge of Jupiter's final mission lost contact with Galileo shortly after 1940 hours GMT Sunday. However, the probe was lost almost a hour before this, as it took some 52 minutes for Galileo's transmissions to reach earth.

Distant Star Bursts Provide Key To The Origin Of Galaxies. Edinburgh - Sep 19, 2003
Revealing images produced by one of the world's most sophisticated telescopes are enabling a team of Edinburgh astronomers to see clearly for the first time how distant galaxies were formed 12 billion years ago.

Chandra Solves Mystery of Moon's Dark Side
Astronomers have found a new use for the Chandra X-ray observatory: probing the surface of the moon. New observations provide direct evidence of lunar composition. Knowing exactly what elements make up the satellite and how they are distributed will help researchers determine just how our satellite was formed. In addition, the data may clear up a decade-old debate about the dark regions of the moon.

Early Mars Was Frozen - But Habitable: Part II. Moffett Field - Sep 24, 2003 - Early Mars was cold - very cold, says Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center. But that doesn't mean it was incapable of supporting life. McKay has extensively studied life in some of the harshest environments in the world: the Antarctic dry valleys, the Arctic, and the Atacama desert.

Hubble Uncovers Smallest Moons Yet Seen Around Uranus.
Astronomers have discovered two of the smallest moons yet found around Uranus. The new moons, uncovered by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, are about 8 to 10 miles across (12 to 16 km) — about the size of San Francisco.

September 21

Historic Galileo Mission Nears End. Pasadena - Sep 15, 2003
Following eight years of capturing dramatic images and surprising science from Jupiter and its moons, NASA's Galileo mission draws to a close September 21 with a plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere.

Solar Flares From The Galactic Deep. Huntsville - Sep 15, 2003
On August 24, 1998, there was an explosion on the sun as powerful as a hundred million hydrogen bombs. Earth-orbiting satellites registered a surge of x-rays. Minutes later they were pelted by fast-moving solar protons. Our planet's magnetic field recoiled from the onslaught, and ham radio operators experienced a strong shortwave blackout.

Chemist suggests that Sun is stringy
Sun's magnetic fields may behave like polymer chains. 10 September 2003.

Lunar Prospecting With Chandra. Huntsville - Sep 16, 2003
Observations of the bright side of the Moon with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have detected oxygen, magnesium, aluminum and silicon over a large area of the lunar surface. The abundance and distribution of those elements will help to determine how the Moon was formed.

Early Mars Was Frozen: But Habitable. Moffett Field - Sep 18, 2003
Early Mars was cold - very cold, says Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center. But that doesn't mean it was incapable of supporting life.

First Supernovae Quickly Seeded Universe With Stuff Of Life. Boston - Sep 16, 2003
The early universe was a barren wasteland of hydrogen, helium, and a touch of lithium, containing none of the elements necessary for life as we know it. From those primordial gases were born giant stars 200 times as massive as the sun, burning their fuel at such a prodigious rate that they lived for only about 3 million years before exploding. Those explosions in turn spewed elements like carbon, oxygen and iron into the void at tremendous speeds.

Opening Up the Dark Side of the Universe. London - Sep 11, 2003
Physicists in the UK are ready to start construction of a major part of an advanced new experiment, designed to search for elusive gravitational waves.

"Iron-Clad" Evidence For Spinning Black Hole. Boston - Sep 17, 2003
Telltale X-rays from iron may reveal if black holes are spinning or not, according to astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory. The gas flows and bizarre gravitational effects observed near stellar black holes are similar to those seen around supermassive black holes. Stellar black holes, in effect, are convenient 'scale models' of their much larger cousins.

Giant star caught swallowing three planets
Each "meal" was accompanied by massive eruptions, making the star briefly the brightest in the Milky Way.

Astrophysicists Discover Massive Forming Galaxies. LIVERMORE, Calif.
A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory astrophysicist, in collaboration with international researchers, has found evidence for the synchronous formation of massive, luminous elliptical galaxies in young galaxy clusters.The forming galaxies were detected at sub-millimeter wavelengths. Emission at these wavelengths is due to dust from young stars that is heated by the stars or by active black holes. The galaxies were grouped around high-red shift radio galaxies, the most massive systems known, suggesting that they all formed at approximately the same time.

Was The Universe Born In A Black Hole?
The universe may have been created by an explosion within a black hole, according to a new theory by two mathematicians recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. In the new model, the Big Bang is an actual explosion within a black hole in an existing space. The shock wave of the explosion is expanding into an infinite space, leaving behind it a finite amount of matter. The universe is emerging from a white hole. The opposite of a black hole, a white hole throws matter out instead of sucking it in.

September 14

Cosmologists To Plot Strategy For Dark Energy Research Campaign. Chicago - Sep 03, 2003
Cosmologists from around the world will meet at the University of Chicago from Sept. 17 to 20 to thrash out the challenges associated with a series of galactic mapping projects designed to help them better understand dark energy, the mysterious force that works against gravity and seems to be accelerating the expansion of the universe.

Dark Energy May Rip Apart Universe. Sept. 8, 2003
Some say the universe will end in a "Big Crunch," others expect a "Big Chill," and now some physicists are saying the end could be something more like a "Big Kablooie." The new theory, actually called the "Big Rip" by its creators, requires the continuous growth of the universe's "dark energy," which pushes things apart and may account for much of the universe's expansion since the "Big Bang."

Antimatter Factory On Sun Yields Clues To Solar Explosions. Greenbelt - Sep 04, 2003
The best look yet at how a solar explosion becomes an antimatter factory gave unexpected insights into how the tremendous explosions work. The observation may upset theories about how the explosions, called solar flares, create and destroy antimatter. It also gave surprising details about how they blast subatomic particles to almost the speed of light. See also

Astronomers detect sound waves from black hole. Washington (AFP) Sep 10, 2003
For the first time ever, astronomers have detected sound waves coming from a massive black hole in space -- and believe the discovery may help resolve a major mystery, the US space agency said Tuesday.

Dark Gamma-ray Bursts Mystery Speeds Up. Santa Fe - Sep 11, 2003
Astronomers led by an MIT team have solved the mystery of why nearly two-thirds of all gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the Universe, seem to leave no trace or afterglow: In some cases, they just weren't looking fast enough.

Solar System 'Fossils' Discovered By Hubble Telescope (September 8, 2003) — Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered three of the faintest and smallest objects ever detected beyond Neptune. Each lump of ice and rock is roughly the size of Philadelphia and orbits just beyond Neptune and Pluto, where they may have rested since the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.

Scientists Determine Large Magellanic Cloud Galaxy Formed Similar To Milky Way
An astronomer from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in collaboration with an international team of researchers, have discovered that a neighboring galaxy -- the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) -- appears to have formed with an old stellar halo, similar to how our very own Milky Way formed.

Europa's Ice Domes: Elevator Ride For Life? Sept. 5, 2003
Mysterious ice domes on Jupiter's moon Europa, are caused by an upwelling of warmer ice from below, confirm two U.S. researchers, whose findings have implications for discovering past and present life on the planet.

Venus possibly habitable for billions of years
The planet's hellish climate may have arisen far more recently than thought, leaving plenty of time for life to have developed.  

September 7

Europan Ice Domes Could Be First Place To Look For Life. Boulder - Sep 03, 2003
A new University of Colorado at Boulder study of Jupiter's moon Europa may help explain the origin of the giant ice domes peppering its surface and the implications for discovering evidence of past or present life forms there.

Asteroid 2003 QQ47's Potential Earth Impact in 2014 Ruled Out. Pasadena - Sep 03, 2003
Newly discovered asteroid 2003 QQ47 has received considerable media attention over the last few days because it had a small chance of colliding with the Earth in the year 2014 and was rated a "1" on the Torino impact hazard scale, which goes from 0 to 10.

Red planet's hue due to meteors, not water
Mars's distinctive colour may have come a dusting of tiny meteors, rather than by liquid water rusting its rocks, suggests a US study.

NASA's New Telescope Transmits First Images. Sept. 4, 2003
The infrared telescope launched last month by NASA has transmitted its first images and is functioning perfectly, the U.S. space agency said Thursday.

UCLA Astronomers Obtain "Molecular Fingerprints" For Celestial "Brown Dwarfs," Missing Link Between Stars And Planets
Elusive brown dwarfs, the missing link between gas giant planets like Jupiter and small, low-mass stars, have now been "fingerprinted" by UCLA astronomy professor Ian S. McLean and colleagues, using the Keck II Telescope at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Infrared Halo Frames A Newborn Star (September 1, 2003)
A small and dark interstellar cloud with the rather cryptic name of DC303.8-14.2 is located in the inner part of the Milky Way galaxy. It is seen in the southern constellation Chamaeleon and consists of dust and gas. Astronomers classify it as a typical example of a "globule".

August 2003

August 31

New Findings Could Dash Hopes For Past Oceans On Mars
Tempe - Aug 26, 2003 - After a decades-long quest, scientists analyzing data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft have at last found critical evidence the spacecraft's infrared spectrometer instrument was built to search for: the presence of water-related carbonate minerals on the surface of Mars.

Mars movements spark huge rise in German "UFO sightings"  

NASA Promises Reform As Columbia Inquiry Lays Blame At Agency's Door.

August 24

Europe's First Moon Probe Prepares For Launch
Paris - Aug 18, 2003 - Europe's first probe to the Moon, SMART-1, is about to begin a unique journey that will take it into orbit around our closest neighbour powered only by an ion engine, which Europe will be testing for the first time as main spacecraft propulsion.

Some now doubt Mars had seas but say life still possible
Researchers say there is virtually no evidence of limestone formation on Mars, a finding that suggests the planet never had oceans or seas. That conclusion, however, does not alter the possibility of life on Mars, experts say.

Dim Future For The Universe As Stellar Lights Go Out
Edinburgh - Aug 18, 2003 - The universe is gently fading into darkness according to three astronomers who have looked at 40,000 galaxies in the neighbourhood of the Milky Way.

Biggest Cosmic Explosions Also May Propel Fastest Objects In Universe
Los Alamos - Aug 18, 2003 - The most powerful explosions in the universe, gamma-ray bursts, may generate the most energetic particles in the universe, known as ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs), according to a new analysis of observations from NASA's Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory.

August 17

Contrarian's contrarian: Galileo's science polemics  Two new books almost seem to sympathize with the inquisitors, making Galileo look like the dogmatist (The New York Times). See

Couple Says "I Do" In First Ever Space Wedding. The bride, in a sleeveless white gown, had her feet firmly planted on the ground. The groom, in a blue flight suit with black bowtie, was almost over the moon. When a judge pronounced them man and wife they blew each other kisses across the ether, in a ceremony being touted as the first wedding to be celebrated between Planet Earth and space. See

View Of Comets As Pristine Relics Of Solar System Formation Evolves. San Antonio - Aug 11, 2003 - The long-held perspective that comets are pristine remnants from the formation of the solar system has evolved from the prevailing views of 30 years ago, finds planetary scientist Dr. S. Alan Stern in a paper published in the journal Nature. See

August 10

Galactic dust storm enters Solar System
New data suggests the Sun's shifting magnetic field is set to focus a decade-long storm on the inner Solar System, including Earth. During the last decade, the magnetic field of the Sun acted like a shield, deflecting the electrically charged galactic dust away from the Solar System. However, the Sun's regular cycle of activity peaked in 2001. As expected, its magnetic field then flipped over, so that south became north and vice-versa. In this configuration, rather than deflecting the galactic dust, the magnetic field should actually channel the dust inwards. This pattern may have been repeated during previous solar cycles but it is only now that astronomers are beginning to have the data they need to prove it. See

NASA lander to target Martian north pole
Phoenix will dig into the soil at the frozen pole hoping to determine if it provides a viable habitat for life today, or did so in the past. See

Measuring The Shape Of An Exploding White Dwarf Star
Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, working with colleagues at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the University of Texas at Austin, have established that the extraordinarily bright and remarkably similar astronomical "standard candles" known as Type Ia supernovae do not explode in a perfectly spherical manner. See

August 3

New Species Of Organism Found In Mars-Like Environment. Huntsville - Aug 01, 2003 - They thrive without oxygen, growing in salty, alkaline conditions, and may offer insights into what kinds of life might survive on Mars. They're a new species of organism, isolated by scientists at the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) in Huntsville, Ala. See

Nearest Cosmic Mirage: Discovery Of Quadruply Lensed Quasar With Einstein Ring
An international team of astronomers has discovered a complex cosmic mirage in the southern constellation Crater (The Cup). This "gravitational lens" system consists of (at least) four images of the same quasar as well as a ring-shaped image of the galaxy in which the quasar reside - known as an "Einstein ring". The more nearby lensing galaxy that causes this intriguing optical illusion is also well visible. See

The future of Hubble is unclear
The Hubble Space Telescope, which has opened new vistas on the universe, was supposed to keep working until 2010, when astronauts would go up in the space shuttle and bring it carefully back down to Earth. But plans have changed since the crash of the shuttle Columbia on Feb. 1. Now, NASA is considering an earlier and more unseemly demise for the orbiting telescope, possibly forcing it to crash into the ocean before the end of the decade. See

Small Galaxy Springs 'Dark Matter' Surprises
Astronomers from the University of Cambridge, UK, have found for the first time the true outer limits of a galaxy. They have also shown that the dark matter in this galaxy is not distributed in the way conventional theory predicts. See

Intriguing Celestial Images Arrive From Galaxy Mission. Pasadena - Jul 30, 2003 - NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer has beamed back revealing images of hundreds of galaxies to expectant astronomers, providing the first batch of data on star formation that they had hoped for. See

Sloan Digital Sky Survey detects physical evidence for Dark Energy. Pittsburgh - Jul 28, 2003 - Scientists from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey announced the discovery of independent physical evidence for the existence of dark energy. See and

Smoking Supernovae: Astronomers Claim Solution To A Mystery Of The Universe
Astronomers from Cardiff University, in Wales, and the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, Scotland, believe they have solved one of the long-standing mysteries of the Universe - the origins of cosmic dust. See

July 2003

July 27

Heavy Metals Rich Stars Tend To Harbor Planets. Sydney - Jul 20, 2003 - EMBARGOEDA comparison of 754 nearby stars like our sun - some with planets and some without - shows definitively that the more iron and other metals there are in a star, the greater the chance it has a companion planet. See also

Revealing The Beast Within: Deeply Embedded Massive Stellar Clusters Discovered In Milky Way Powerhouse
Peering into a giant molecular cloud in the Milky Way galaxy - known as W49 - astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have discovered a whole new population of very massive newborn stars. See

Study Finds Dark Matter Is For SuperWIMPs. Irvine - Jul 16, 2003 - A UC Irvine study has revealed a new class of cosmic particles that may shed light on the composition of dark matter in the universe. See

Information in the Holographic Universe By studying the mysterious properties of black holes, physicists have deduced absolute limits on how much information a region of space or a quantity of matter and energy can hold. Related results suggest that our universe, which we perceive to have three spatial dimensions, might instead be "written" on a two-dimensional surface, like a hologram. Our everyday perceptions of the world as three-dimensional would then be either a profound illusion or merely one of two alternative ways of viewing reality. A grain of sand may not encompass our world, but a flat screen might. See

Supernovae Spawned Universe's First Solid Particles Astronomers have detected a cosmic dust storm surrounding the remains of a supernova, according to new research. The findings suggest that these exploded stars could be a major source of the first solid particles in our universe. See

Stream of radon There should be plenty of water on Mars. Water vapour has already been detected in the planet's atmosphere, and ice on the surface at the poles. But much of the water may be buried underground. Locating this hidden store is not easy, but radon could be the answer. This gas, produced by radioactive decay, is usually trapped in minerals. But the presence of water or ice allows it to seep up to the surface, providing a wafting signpost. See

Los Alamos Releases New Maps Of A Martian Ice World. Los Alamos - Jul 25, 2003 - "Breathtaking" new maps of likely sites of water on Mars showcase their association with geologic features such as Vallis Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system. See

July 20

Astronomers Find Most Ancient Planet Yet Astronomers have detected the most ancient planet yet known orbiting a binary system thousands of light years away. The new discovery indicates that planet formation in the Milky Way may have started sooner and been more widespread than previously believed. See

Smoking Supernovae Solve A Ten Billion Year-old Mystery
A team of UK astronomers have announced the discovery that some supernovae have bad habits - they belch out huge quantities of 'smoke' known as cosmic dust. This solves a mystery more than 10 billion years in the making. See

New Surprises from Mysterious Pluto Pluto, the most distant of the nine planets in our solar system, has piqued the curiosity of astronomers once again. It seems the planet's atmosphere is expanding as it travels away from the sun, rather than contracting as expected. See

Discovery Of Quadruply Lensed Quasar With Einstein Ring. Paris - Jul 18, 2003 - Using the ESO 3.6-m telescope at La Silla (Chile), an international team of astronomers [1] has discovered a complex cosmic mirage in the southern constellation Crater (The Cup). This "gravitational lens" system consists of (at least) four images of the same quasar as well as a ring-shaped image of the galaxy in which the quasar reside - known as an "Einstein ring". The more nearby lensing galaxy that causes this intriguing optical illusion is also well visible. See

Sydney meeting hears latest from Sloan Digital Sky Survey. See

'Gassy' Galaxies Found With Few Stars. July 15, 2003 — Some galaxies are mostly gas rather than stars, Australian researchers have discovered, turning conventional thinking on its head, the world congress of astronomy has heard. See

Galactic Maps Reveals Dark Matter's Impact Vast Cosmic Structures. Sydney - Jul 18, 2003 - Astrophysicists have had an exceedingly difficult time charting the mysterious stuff called dark matter that permeates the universe because it's--well--dark. Now, a unique "mass map" of a cluster of galaxies shows in unprecedented detail how dark matter is distributed with respect to the shining galaxies. The new comparison gives a convincing indication of how dark matter figures into the grand scheme of the cosmos. See

Icebound Antarctic Telescope Delivers First Neutrino Sky Map. Sydney - Jul 16, 2003 - A novel telescope that uses the Antarctic ice sheet as its window to the cosmos has produced the first map of the high-energy neutrino sky. The map, unveiled for astronomers Tueday in Sydney at a meeting of the International Astronomical Union, provides astronomers with their first tantalizing glimpse of very high-energy neutrinos, ghostly particles that are believed to emanate from some of the most violent events in the universe -- crashing black holes, gamma ray bursts, and the violent cores of distant galaxies. See

Star-gazers claim to pinpoint the hour Jesus died
Theories on the exact date of Christ's death have been debated for centuries, but now two astronomers claim to have pinpointed it to the exact hour. A computer program checked against Bible references showed that Christ died at 3pm on Friday, April 3, 33 AD, and rose again on Sunday, April 5 at 4 a.m. See

July 13

Newfound, ancient planet challenges age-old theories
Astronomers said yesterday that the oldest and most distant planet yet found was a huge, gaseous sphere 13 billion years old and 5,600 light-years away, a discovery that could change theories about when planets formed and when life could have evolved. See

Hawaiian Telescope Team Makes Debut Discovery. Kamuela - Jul 7, 2003 - Astronomers have observed a young star ringed by a swirling disc that may spin off planets, marking the first published science observation using two linked 10-meter (33- foot) telescopes in Hawaii. See

Stellar Occultations Reveal Drastic Expansion Of Pluto's Atmosphere. Paris - Jul 10, 2003 - Moving on its eccentric orbit, Pluto is presently receding from the Sun; between 1979 and 1999 it was inside Neptune's orbit, but since then it has again been the planet most distant from the Sun. As it moves outward, the amount of solar energy that reaches its surface decreases, so its surface is expected to cool. See

Frozen Stars. Black holes may not be bottomless pits after all. Demolishing stars, powering blasts of high-energy radiation, rending the fabric of spacetime: it is not hard to see the allure of black holes. They light up the same parts of the brain as monster trucks and battlebots do. They explain violent celestial phenomena that no other body can. They are so extreme, in fact, that no one really knows what they are. See

Einstein's Gravitational Waves May Set Speed Limit For Pulsar Spin
Gravitational radiation, ripples in the fabric of space predicted by Albert Einstein, may serve as a cosmic traffic enforcer, protecting reckless pulsars from spinning too fast and blowing apart, according to a report published in the July 3 issue of Nature. See

Dark matter may be undetectable
Super-WIMPs might hide ninety percent of the universe. See

Accelerating Universe theory dispels dark energy
Tweaking gravity does away with need for strange forces.
3 July 2003 See

July 6

Foam is 'most probable cause' of Columbia's breakup
It is investigators' strongest statement on the Feb. 1 shuttle disaster. A final report is due in July.
In their strongest statement on the Columbia disaster, investigators said yesterday that flyaway foam was "the most probable cause" of the wing damage that brought down the space shuttle almost five months ago.
( By Marcia Dunn, Associated Press, 06/25/2003 03:01 AM EDT)See

Meteorite Reveals Signs of Life from Space. June 26 — Unique carbon building blocks of life called fullerenes did indeed crash to Earth in meteorites, new British research has found. The work by Peter Harris from Reading University has provided the first direct evidence of fullerenes — a special type of carbon molecule associated with the origins of life — in meteorite samples. The analysis of samples from the Allende meteorite which fell on Mexico in 1969 is published this week online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. See

Vast Conveyer Belts Drive 11-Year Cycle Of Solar Maximum. See

Flying Shotgun In Deep Space. Huntsville - Jun 30, 2003 - The solar system is littered with clouds of dust--some of them uncharted. Earth encounted one such cloud last Friday, June 27th. writes Dr. Tony Phillips in his latest report for NASA Science News. See

New Gemini Spectrograph Rivals View From Space. London - Jul 02, 2003 - Gemini Observatory's new spectrograph, without the help of adaptive optics, recently captured images that are among the sharpest ever obtained of astronomical objects from the ground. See

Gamma-Ray Detectives Close In On 30-Year Old Mystery. Paris (ESA) Jul 2, 2003 - Cold War intrigue, international politics and hi-tech astronomy were the key ingredients for one of the most amazing and mysterious scientific discoveries of all time, which took place exactly 30 years ago. See

Universe Slightly Simpler Than Expected. Gainesville - Jun 23, 2003 - The universe just became a little less mysterious. Using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers at the University of Florida have concluded that two of the most common types of galaxies in the universe are in reality different versions of the same thing. See

Astronomers Find 'Home From Home' - 90 Light Years Away. Liverpool - Jul 03, 2003 - Astronomers looking for planetary systems that resemble our own solar system have found the most similar formation so far. British astronomers, working with Australian and American colleagues, have discovered a planet like Jupiter in orbit round a nearby star that is very like our own Sun. See

Far planet could have Earthlike relative
Astronomers say the orbit of the gas giant suggests a solar system very similar to our own.
Another planet has been added to the list of 100 or so worlds that astronomers have discovered around distant stars - but unlike all those other planets, this one is in a solar system that might be capable of supporting another Earth. See

June 2003

June 22

Headless Comets Survive Plunge Through Sun's Atmosphere.

Moon dates Van Gogh. An astronomical calculation has pinned down the date and time portrayed in one of Vincent Van Gogh's famous paintings. See

Universe can surf the Big Rip. Alternative proposed to dark energy's cosmic doomsday. The end of the world is not so nigh. A Spanish scientist has found a loophole in the suggestion that there might be a Big Rip in the universe about 22 billion years from now. See

The Galactic Odd Couple. The two most powerful phenomena in galaxies are active galactic nuclei (AGNs) and starbursts. The former are intense, concentrated sources of light—probably matter falling into a supermassive black hole. Starbursts are galactic fireworks shows during which stars form at a frenetic pace. Astronomers used to think that AGNs and starbursts, which are often separated by vast distances, had nothing to do with each other. But they have found that the two phenomena tend to occur hand in hand. Does an AGN cause the starburst? Or vice versa? Or are they both caused by some underlying process? The answer will be crucial to understanding the evolution of galaxies. See

Scientists Image The Three- Dimensional Surface Of The Sun. Laurel - Jun 18, 2003 - Solar physicists from Lockheed Martin, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, The Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics of the University of Oslo, and the Institute for Solar Physics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences have analyzed the highest resolution images ever taken near the solar limb (or visible edge of the sun), and found a surprising variety of structure. See

Data Shows Solar Flares 20 Million Degrees Hotter Than Expected. Columbia - Jun 18, 2003 - For scientists who study solar flares, the hottest spots in the solar system just got substantially hotter. The hottest spots in solar flares reach temperatures as much as 20 million degrees Fahrenheit hotter than solar physicists had previously believed, topping out at more than 80 million degrees Fahrenheit. And from about 5 million degrees just before a flare, in less than a minute temperatures in the sun's atmosphere can warm by more than 75 million degrees. See

Powerful 'Conveyer Belts' Drive Sun's 11-year Cycle, New Evidence Suggests
NASA and university astronomers have found evidence that the 11-year sunspot cycle is driven in part by a giant conveyor belt-like, circulating current within the Sun. See

Second black hole may lurk at Milky Way's heart
Astronomers suspect a middleweight black hole is dragging young stars towards the monster black hole at our galaxy's centre. See

June 15

Delta 2 Launches First Of Dual Mars Rovers. Washington - Jun 10, 2003 - Delayed twice due to bad weather, NASA's launch of the first of two rovers went off without a hitch today with a successful launch at 1:58 pm (1758 GMT). The spacecraft will now begin traversing some 500 million kilometers over seven months, before dropping into Gusev crater, 15 degrees south of the Martian equator, in early January 2004. See

Odyssey Thermal Data Reveals a Changing Mars. Temple - Jun 11, 2003 - The first overview analysis of a year's worth of high-resolution infrared data gathered by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft is opening Mars to a new kind of detailed geological analysis and revealing a dynamic planet that has experienced dramatic environmental change. See

Rosetta Retasked For 10 Year Trip To Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Sacramento - Jun 11, 2003 - The European Space Agency's ambitious Rosetta mission to rendezvous with and orbit a comet nucleus for the first time -- and then dispatch a small lander onto its surface -- has just survived the most bizarre crisis imaginable. See

Big Bang 'soup recipe' confirmed
The Universe's primordial soup - a quark-gluon plasma - has been recreated in a US ion smashing experiment.

June 8

WASP Prepares To Search For A Thousand New Planets. Swindon - Jun 02, 2003 - Construction has now started in La Palma on the first of three new cameras designed to look for planets outside our own solar system. To date about a hundred of these planets have been found by teams of scientists from around the world using various techniques, but the ambitious new WASP project hopes to find over a thousand new planets similar to Jupiter! See

Europe Launches First Ever Mars Space Mission. See

In Support Of Galacitic Unification. New Haven - Jun 02, 2003 - Despite a decade of efforts to find flaws in the unification theory of active galaxies, the theory correctly explains the exotic phenomena of accreting supermassive black holes, argues Yale astronomer Meg Urry. See

Calmer Times For Windy Saturn. Paris (AFP) Jun 04, 2003 - Saturn, one of the windiest places in the Solar System, is undergoing a dramatic weather change. Just over two decades ago, snapshots of the distinctive clouds in Saturn's equatorial region showed a jetstream that sped along at a bruising 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles) per hour. Now the winds have slowed to a relatively pedestrian 1,100 kph (690 mph), according to astronomers. Outside the equatorial belt, the planet's wind speeds appear not to have changed. See

June 1

Mapping The Hidden Universe. Cardiff - May 14, 2003 - Astronomers from Cardiff University are completing the first survey ever for cosmic hydrogen, the primeval gas which emerged from the Big Bang to form all the stars and galaxies we can see today. See

Chaos Explains Origin Of New Moons. Bristol - May 19, 2003 - The ability to understand how small bodies such as moons switch from orbiting the Sun to orbiting a planet has long remained one of the outstanding problems of planetary science. A paper published in Nature on 15 May shows how this problem has been resolved using chaos theory, enabling scientists to predict where astronomers might search for new moons orbiting the giant planets. See

A Deep Space Exploration Extravaganza Set To Unfold. Pasadena - May 20, 2003 - Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. are ramping up for an era of unprecedented space exploration. The Lab is poised to launch and direct a fleet of space probes that will, among many other things, crash into the heart of a distant comet, snatch particles of the solar wind, rove across Mars to search for evidence of liquid water, and descend through the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan to explore what reminds many scientists of an early Earth. See

Five Spacecraft Join to Solve an Auroral Puzzle. Washington - May 22, 2003 - Five spacecraft have made a remarkable set of observations, leading to a breakthrough in understanding the origin of a peculiar and puzzling type of aurora. Seen as bright spots in Earth's atmosphere and called "dayside proton auroral spots," they are now known to occur when fractures appear in the Earth's magnetic field, allowing particles emitted from the Sun to pass through and collide with molecules in our atmosphere. See

Chandra Provides View Of Universe's Biggest Stellar Construction Site. Boston - May 23, 2003 - Images made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have revealed two distant cosmic construction sites buzzing with activity. This discovery shows how super massive black holes control the growth of massive galaxies in the distant universe. See

Green Bank Reveals Satellite Of Milky Way In Retrograde Orbit. Green Bank - May 26, 2003 - New observations with National Science Foundation's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) suggest that what was once believed to be an intergalactic cloud of unknown distance and significance, is actually a previously unrecognized satellite galaxy of the Milky Way orbiting backward around the Galactic center. See

Sloan Digital Sky Survey Study Confirms Dark Matter. Las Cruces - May 23, 2003 - A new study using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey provides the most direct evidence yet that galaxies reside at the center of giant, dark matter concentrations that may be 50 times larger than the visible galaxy itself. See

Extremely Large Planet-Forming Disks Around Seven Young Stars. Gainesville - May 27, 2003 - An international team of astronomers has discovered seven extremely large circumstellar disks silhouetted against the forming stars that they surround. These new disks are 10 to 100 times larger than both our solar system and other planet-forming disks that have been imaged previously, suggesting that it may be possible for planets to form at much larger distances from their stars than previously thought. See

Scientists discover new mini galaxies. Sydney (AFP) May 29, 2003 - A team of international scientists on Thursday revealed they had discovered the tiniest galaxies in the universe, so small they were previously mistaken for stars. See

A Close-up Look at the Young Universe
May 28, 2003 | Astronomers using a worldwide array of radio telescopes have delved deep into a galaxy and found what they're calling a "supernova factory" — a superdense star-forming region that has more in common with the ancient early universe than with most galaxies today. See

3-D Map Of Local Space Shows Sun Lies In Middle Of Hole Piercing Galactic Plane
The first detailed map of space within about 1,000 light years of Earth places the solar system in the middle of a large hole that pierces the plane of the galaxy, perhaps left by an exploding star one or two million years ago. See

First-Ever Snapshot Released Of Mother Earth From Mars
Have you ever wondered what you would see if you were on Mars looking at Earth through a small telescope? Now you can find out, thanks to a unique view of our world recently captured by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft currently orbiting the red planet. See

May 2003

May 18

Japanese Spacecraft On Four-Year Journey To Bring Home Asteroid Samples. Tokyo (AFP) May 09, 2003 - A Japanese spacecraft blasted off Friday on an ambitious four-and-a-half-year journey to bring asteroid samples back to Earth for the first time. The mid-size solid-fuel M-5 rocket, carrying an unmanned MUSES-C probe, lifted off from the Kagoshima Space Centre in the southern Japanese town of Uchinoura at 1:29 pm (0429 GMT) as scheduled. See

Mapping The Hidden Universe. Cardiff - May 14, 2003 - Astronomers from Cardiff University are completing the first survey ever for cosmic hydrogen, the primeval gas which emerged from the Big Bang to form all the stars and galaxies we can see today. See

New Mars Water Theory Looks at Wind. May 7, 2003 — Mars' most celebrated watery feature may not from water at all, but from wind, says a geologist who has found the driest, dustiest explanation yet for Martian gullies. See

Brighter Neptune Suggests A Planetary Change Of Seasons
Springtime is blooming on Neptune! This might sound like an oxymoron because Neptune is the farthest and coldest of the major planets. But NASA Hubble Space Telescope observations are revealing an increase in Neptune's brightness in the southern hemisphere, which is considered a harbinger of seasonal change, say astronomers. See

May 11

Starry View: Image reveals galaxy's violent past. The most detailed visible-light picture ever taken of the heavens reveals that the nearby Andromeda galaxy has had a much more violent history than our own Milky Way has. See

Tank-Inspired Robot Set To Hunt Microbes On Mars: London (AFP) May 02, 2003 - Scientists in Britain have designed a tank-inspired robot set to hunt microbes on Mars and and establish whether human colonies could survive in the hostile environment of the Red Planet. Researchers say they turned to military-inspired caterpillar tracks which change shape as they roll over obstacles. The 40,000-euro (45,000 dollars) research at Kingston University near London, funded by the European Space Agency, is aimed at getting the robot to Mars by 2011. See

NASA Orders New Mars Airplane Prototype. Manassas - May 07, 2003 - Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. has received an order from the NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., for a full-scale prototype of a proposed Mars airplane. The aircraft is being built as part of the Mars Scout Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey (ARES) project of which Dr. Joel S. Levine is the Principal Investigator. See

Russia, US Agree To Explore Mars Together. Moscow (AFP) May 05, 2003 - Russia and the United States have agreed to launch a joint programme of Mars exploration, officials said here Monday after talks between the heads of the US and Russian space agencies. The two countries "have agreed to begin joint exploration of Mars and carry out joint unmanned interplanetary station flight programmes," said Sergei Gorbunov, spokesman for Russia's Rosaviakosmos space agency. See

Explaining Thirty Years Of Fudge. Sacramento - May 06, 2003 - After decades of NASA officials and its congressional supporters asserting on the public record that the shuttle can do this and that for X amount of money, the whole sordid truth is starting to come out as veterans of the manned space program give evidence to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board about what really happened decades ago when the key decisions were made. See

Panel Links Wing Seal, Shuttle Crash. May 6, 2003 — The Columbia shuttle disaster was probably caused by a seal that broke between protective tiles on the left wing, according to preliminary results from the official inquiry announced Tuesday. See

Meteorites: Catch a falling star
A fireball illuminated the European sky on an April evening last year, was captured on film and found to be a 1.75-kg meteorite. See also

May's Total Lunar Eclipse
For almost an hour on the night of May 15–16, the full Moon will turn dim and fiery orange. See

May 4

Russian capsule lands Two U.S. astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut it carried had been delayed by the Columbia tragedy.
Two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut returned to Earth from the international space station today in a cramped Russian capsule, getting home the only way they could after the Columbia space shuttle disaster. They became the first NASA astronauts to land in a foreign spacecraft in a foreign land. See

Galaxy Evolution Explorer Looks Back In Time. Pasadena - Apr 28, 2003 - NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) will carry a telescope into Earth orbit that will observe a million galaxies, across 10 billion years of cosmic history, to help astronomers determine when the stars we see today had their origins. See

New Tech Will Put The Scope Smaller Exo Planets. Schoemakerstraat - Apr 28, 2003 - Scientists and engineers at Astrium Space Friedrichshafen and TNO TPD's space division in Delft have taken an important step in tracking down small planets outside our solar system. See

A Star With Two North Poles. Huntsville - Apr 28, 2003 - Sometimes the Sun's magnetic field goes haywire, and the effects are felt throughout the solar system. Three years ago, something weird happened to the Sun. Normally, our star, like Earth itself, has a north and a south magnetic pole. But for nearly a month beginning in March 2000, the Sun's south magnetic pole faded, and a north pole emerged to take its place. The Sun had two north poles. See

Finding The Ashes Of The First Stars. Paris - Apr 30, 2003 - Recent observations with the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that the first stars formed as little as 200 million years after the Big Bang. This is much earlier than previously thought. See

In Search Of The Missing Universe. Boulby - Apr 30, 2003 - The Universe around us is not what it appears. The stars make up less than 1% of its mass; all the gas clouds and other objects, less than 5%. This visible matter is mere flotsam on a sea of unknown material - so called 'Dark Matter' - a descriptor which mainly serves as an expression of our great ignorance of its nature. See

April 2003

April 27

The Radar Search For Martian Water. Dublin - Apr 22, 2003 - Until the last few years, Mars has been regarded as a cold, arid world that lost most of its water long ago. However, recent observations by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey spacecraft have provided tantalising evidence that huge amounts of water may be hidden just below the surface. See

Parallel Universes. Is there a copy of you reading this article? A person who is not you but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect. But perhaps he or she now decides to put down this article without finishing it, while you read on. The idea of such an alter ego seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations. See

Private human spaceflight project revealed
An exotic-looking spacecraft and mother ship is unveiled, aiming to be the first private venture to take people into space. See

Technion-CERN Scientists Predict Supernova. Geneva - Apr 22, 2003 - A team of theoretical physicists, Shlomo Dado and Arnon Dar at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and Alvaro De Rujula CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland, has developed a theory to account for the mysterious gamma ray bursts that come from the depths of the Universe. See

Rutgers Scientist Sees Evidence Of 'Onions' In Space
Scientists may have peeled away another layer of mystery about materials floating in deep space. Tiny multilayered balls called "carbon onions," produced in laboratory studies, appear to have the same light-absorption characteristics as dust particles in the regions between the stars. See

Saturn’s moon Titan, is where orange haze forms an atmosphere ten times as thick as the one on Earth. Because so little light can escape its atmosphere, Titan is shrouded by an opaque curtain that has prevented planetary scientists from learning much about what lies beneath the haze. But work published today in the journal Science provides the clearest picture yet of Titan's surface. The findings indicate that the moon is covered, at least in part, by frozen water. See

Space Telescope Used To Trace Formation, Evolution Of Planetary Systems
Astronomers soon will look at dust disks evolving around Milky Way stars to learn if solar systems like ours are rare or commonplace. See

Total Lunar Eclipse: May 15-16, 2003. When the Bible talks about the moon turning to blood, I believe it is talking about a lunar eclipse when the moon turns a dark reddish color. See

April 20

Is Travel Through a Black Hole Possible: Washington - Apr 14, 2003 - Spaceship travel to another universe through a black hole may be highly improbable, but it cannot be ruled out, according to a new analysis that explores the idea of "hybrid singularity." As science fiction fans know, anyone who wishes to fall into a black hole and re-emerge at some distant location or even an another universe would have to go through a forbidding region inside the black hole known as a "space-time singularity." See

Beyond "Pi In The Sky" Stanford - Apr 14, 2003 - For most of us, "inflation" is a term that comes up only in conversations about the economy or flat tires. But for many cosmologists, inflation is the ultimate word in understanding how the universe was created. See

Science Begins For LIGO In Quest To Detect Gravitational Waves: Pasadena - Apr 14, 2003 - Armed with one of the most advanced scientific instruments of all time, physicists are now watching the universe intently for the first evidence of gravitational waves. See

Astronomers Stretch Celestial Yardstick to New Lengths: Baltimore - Apr 14, 2003 - Astronomers' "yardstick" for measuring vast distances across the cosmos grew longer today as scientists at The Johns Hopkins University announced they had identified and closely analyzed two distant new instances of a kind of exploding star known as a Type Ia supernova. See

X-rays Found From A Lightweight Brown Dwarf
Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, scientists have detected X-rays from a low mass brown dwarf in a multiple star system, which is as young as 12 million years old. This discovery is an important piece in an increasingly complex picture of how brown dwarfs — and perhaps the very massive planets around other stars — evolve. See

April 13

Dark matter doesn't move in mysterious ways. Visible matter's elusive counterpart jiggles like gas. See

Astronomers Find "Naked" Galaxies, Devoid Of Dark Matter. Dublin - Apr 09, 2003 - An international team of astronomers has discovered that "dark matter", the mysterious material that seems to make up most of the mass of galaxies, is not as all-pervasive as previously believed. See

Ice telescope draws useful blank
First evidence from Antarctic neutrino detector announced. See

It's A Nova, It's A Supernova, No It's A Hypernova. Ann Arbor - Apr 08, 2003 - Two billion years ago, in a far-away galaxy, a giant star exploded, releasing almost unbelievable amounts of energy as it collapsed to a black hole. The light from that explosion finally reached Earth at 6:37 a.m. EST on March 29, igniting a frenzy of activity among astronomers worldwide. This phenomenon has been called a hypernova, playing on the name of the supernova events that mark the violent end of massive stars. See

Galileo Discovers Amalthea Rocks. Pasadena - Apr 11, 2003 - NASA's Galileo spacecraft serendipitously discovered seven to nine space rocks near Jupiter's inner moon Amalthea when Galileo flew past that moon five months ago. See

Sun's Role In Climate Change Continues To Spark Controversy

Prolific NASA Orbiter Adds Thousands Of Photos To Mars Album
The winds of Mars leave their marks on many of the 11,664 new pictures being posted on the Internet by the camera team for NASA's Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission. The images are available on the Internet from the Mars Orbiter Camera Gallery at:

April 6

Doomed Matter Near Black Hole Gets Second Lease on Life: Quebec - Mar 25, 2003 - Supermassive black holes, notorious for ripping apart and swallowing stars, might also help seed interstellar space with the elements necessary for life, such as hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and iron, scientists say. See

Cosmic Forensics Confirms Gamma-Ray Burst And Supernova Related: Boston - Mar 25, 2003 - Scientists announced today that they have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to confirm that a gamma-ray burst was connected to the death of a massive star. This result is an important step in understanding the origin of gamma-ray bursts, the most violent events in the present-day Universe. See

Astronomers Deal Blow To Quantum Theories Of Time, Space, Gravity: Huntsville - Mar 28, 2003 - For the second time in as many months, images gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) are raising questions about the structures of time and gravity, and the fabric of space. See

Hubble Watches Light From Mysterious Star Reverberate: Baltimore - Mar 28, 2003 - In January 2002, a dull star in an obscure constellation suddenly became 600,000 times more luminous than our Sun, temporarily making it the brightest star in our Milky Way galaxy. See

Five times more water on Moon? The Moon may harbors five times more water than we thought, reckon researchers in the United States who have doubled previous estimates of how much of the lunar surface is permanently dark. See

Galactic Wind Of Low-Energy Cosmic Rays Detected In Interstellar Clouds: Berkeley - Apr 01, 2003 - A bit of Earth-bound chemistry has led scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, to conclude that there is an unsuspected wind of low-energy cosmic ray particles blowing through the galaxy. See

March 2003

March 23

Race To Gamma-Ray Burst Reveals Gigantic Explosion, Death & Birth
Scientists arriving on the scene of a gamma-ray burst just moments after the explosion, have witnessed the death of a gigantic star and the birth of something monstrous in its place, quite possibly a brand new, spinning black hole. See

Chandra Image Reveals Supernova Origin
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory image, left panel, of the supernova remnant DEM L71 reveals a hot inner cloud, aqua, of glowing iron and silicon surrounded by an outer blast wave. This outer blast wave is also visible at optical wavelengths, right panel. Data from the Chandra observation show that the central 10-million-degree Celsius cloud is the remains of a supernova explosion that destroyed a white dwarf star. See

NASA'S Mars Odyssey Changes Views About Red Planet
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has transformed the way scientists are looking at the red planet. "In just one year, Mars Odyssey has fundamentally changed our understanding of the nature of the materials on and below the surface of Mars," said Dr. Jeffrey Plaut, Odyssey's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. See

Dawn's Attractive Science: Pasadena - Mar 19, 2003 - The solar system contains a spectrum of magnetic dynamos in large bodies like the Sun and Jupiter, in more modest-sized bodies like the Earth and in smaller bodies like Mercury and Ganymede. See

Record Breaking Galaxies May Shed Light on Dark Ages
The Subaru Deep Field Project commences with discovery of farthest-removed Milky Way cousin and a promising new window on the universe in its infancy. See

Moon Meteorite Mystery
We find as many chunks of Mars lying on Earth as chunks of the Moon — although the Moon is closer and loses pieces more easily. Why? See

March 16

Physicist Hopes To Rewrite The History Of The Universe: Toronto - Mar 10, 2003 - Professor emeritus John Moffat of physics has his own ideas about relativity. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Albert Einstein's famous theory has formed the backbone upon which cosmology experts have sought to explain how the universe began and eventually how it will end. See

Rising Storms Revise Story Of Jupiter's Stripes: San Antonio - Mar 10, 2003 - Pictures of Jupiter, taken by a NASA spacecraft on its way to Saturn, are flipping at least one long-standing notion about Jupiter upside down. See

Solar System's Giant Jupiter, Now Has 52 Satellites: Paris (AFP) Mar 10, 2003 - Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, now has 52 moons, thanks to a flurry of 12 satellites discovered by astronomers last month. The team discovered seven new satellites in early February and a few days later uncovered another five, according to a report on the website of the University of Hawaii. See

Extrasolar atmosphere
The first known planet with an atmosphere outside the solar system is losing mass at a rate of 100 million tons per second. &

Hubble Captures Blazing Small Galaxy: March 7, 2003 — The latest image by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures the center of a small galaxy ablaze with the light of thousands of stars young and old. See

March 9

The Kuipers Beckon As Pluto Mission Funded: Sacramento - Mar 03, 2003 - After years of uncertainty, the strange "Pluto War" over whether to launch a Pluto flyby spacecraft in the near future is finally almost completely over - and Pluto won. NASA, Congress and the White House finally agreed that they do want an early Pluto probe rather than waiting years for as yet untested nuclear electric propulsion system to be developed and flight tested enough for dispatch to Pluto and out in the Kuiper belt beyond. See

Mars May Still Have Liquid Iron Core: Pasadena - Mar 07, 2003 - New information about what is inside Mars shows the Red Planet has a molten liquid-iron core, confirming the interior of the planet has some similarity to Earth and Venus. See

CHIPS Begins Interstelar Search For Birthplace Of Solar Systems
The Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer (CHIPS) satellite is living up to the adage "good things come in small packages," as the suitcase-size spacecraft is entering its second month of providing data to scientists about the birthplace of solar systems. See

'Phantom menace' may rip up cosmos: Stand by for a nightmare end to the Universe - a runaway expansion so violent that galaxies, planets and even atomic nuclei are literally ripped apart. The scenario could play out as soon as 22 billion years from now. See

March 2

Distant Galaxy Shreds Fabric Of Space And Time: Huntsville - Feb 24, 2003 - The sharp image of a galaxy halfway across the universe might shred modern theories about the structures of time and space, and change the way astrophysicists view the "Big Bang," according to two scientists at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). See

Missing Mass Exists As Warm Intergalactic Fog: Cambridge - Feb 20, 2003 - One of the fundamental questions astronomers are trying to answer is: What is the Universe made of? Numerous lines of evidence show that the Universe is about 73 percent "dark energy," 23 percent "dark matter," and only 4 percent normal matter. Yet this answer raises further questions, including: Where is all the normal matter? See

Short And Long Gamma-Ray Bursts Different To The Core: Budapest - Feb 21, 2003 - A new analysis of nearly 2,000 gamma-ray bursts -- the mysterious creators of black holes and the most powerful explosions known in the universe -- has revealed that the two major varieties, long and short bursts, appear to arise from different types of events. See

Do Pluto's Other Children Hide In The Shadow Of Charon: Boulder - Feb 25, 2003 - Pluto has only one known satellite - Charon - discovered in 1978 by American astronomer James Christy. At slightly more than half the diameter of Pluto, Charon's 1,200-kilometer diameter makes it the undisputed "relative size" king of solar system satellites. See

Flying With Nature's Own Fuel: Pasadena - Feb 24, 2003 - Hundreds of years ago, early discoverers used the Sun as a compass. Turns out the light of the Sun can do more than just guide us; it can actually propel us farther and faster into the vast realm of space than we've ever been able to go. See

Coldest Spot in Cosmos Found: Feb. 21 — To an Eskimo, the saying goes, hell is a very cold place, not a hot one. Now NASA and European astronomers have pictures of Eskimo hell: the coldest spot in the known universe. The place is 5,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. It's the Boomerang Nebula: a cloud of gases that are being expelled from a dying star. See

Scientists Get First Close Look At Stardust
For the first time, scientists have identified and analyzed single grains of silicate stardust in the laboratory. This breakthrough, to be reported in the Feb. 27 issue of Science Express, provides a new way to study the history of the universe. See

New Spacecraft Tool Reveals Massive Gas Cloud Around Jupiter
Using a sensitive new imaging instrument on NASA's Cassini spacecraft, researchers have discovered a large and surprisingly dense gas cloud sharing an orbit with Jupiter's icy moon Europa. See

February 2003

February 23

NASA worker's e-mail warned of shuttle risk
A NASA safety engineer warned two days before Columbia broke apart that the shuttle might be in "marginal" condition and that others in the space agency were not adequately considering the danger of a breach near its left wheels, according to internal e-mail NASA disclosed yesterday. See

Los Alamos Makes First Map Of Ice Distribution On Mars: Denver - Feb 17, 2003 - Lurking just beneath the surface of Mars is enough water to cover the entire planet ankle-deep, says Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Bill Feldman. See

Odyssey Points To Melting Snow As Cause Of Gullies: Pasadena - Feb 20, 2003 - Images from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, combined with those from Mars Global Surveyor, suggest melting snow is the likely cause of the numerous eroded gullies first documented on Mars in 2000 by Global Surveyor. The martian gullies were created by trickling water from melting snow packs, not underground springs or pressurized flows, as previously suggested, argues Dr. Philip Christensen, principal investigator for Odyssey's camera system. See

Lunar Impact Mystery Solved: Pasadena - Feb 21, 2003 - In the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 1953, an amateur astronomer in Oklahoma photographed what he believed to be a massive, white-hot fireball of vaporized rock rising from the center of the moon's face. See

Weather Cells Form Around Magnetic Storms On Solar Surface: Boulder - Feb 17, 2003 - Clusters of sunspots form their own weather patterns on the sun, according to new observations by a team of University of Colorado at Boulder researchers. See

Rivers Of Gas Could Provide Part Of Universe's "Missing" Matter: Columbus - Feb 13, 2003 - An Ohio State University astronomer and her colleagues have detected a type of hot gas in space that could account for part of the "missing" matter in the universe. See

Extra Dimensions Showing Hints Of Scientific Revolution: Chicago - Feb 19, 2003 - The concept of extra dimensions, dismissed as nonsense even by one of its earliest proponents nearly nine decades ago, may soon help solve seemingly unrelated problems in particle physics, cosmology and gravitational physics, according to a panel of experts who spoke Feb. 15 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Denver. See

February 16

Shuttle piece is from wing that was hit
After three days of uncertainty, NASA said yesterday that a piece of broken wing found last week was from the space shuttle Columbia's left side - where the problems appear to have begun in the final minutes of its doomed flight. See 

After 14 years, Galileo's space journey nears end
As NASA temporarily grounds its shuttle fleet after the Columbia disaster, an unmanned spacecraft that has been exploring the solar system for 14 years is nearing the end of its mission - and still revealing the secrets of a planet hundreds of millions of miles from Earth. See 

The Oldest Light in the Universe: Huntsville - Feb 13, 2003 - NASA has released the best "baby picture" of the Universe ever taken; the image contains such stunning detail that it may be one of the most important scientific results of recent years. Scientists used NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) to capture the new cosmic portrait, which reveals the afterglow of the big bang, a.k.a. the cosmic microwave background. See

Undergrads Discover New Class Of Star; "They Pulsate Like Jell-O"
University of Arizona astronomy undergraduates have serendipitously discovered a new class of star that thrills astronomers who specialize in a relatively new field called "astroseismology." See

Planetary Scientists Applaud President's FY04 Budget Proposal: Washington - Feb 07, 2003 - The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society applauds the President's FY04 budget proposal for its vision towards implementing the recommendations within the National Research Council's Solar System Exploration Decadal Survey Report. A new initiative is proposed for a Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter (JIMO), enabling the detailed study of Jupiter's icy moons including the investigation of a subsurface ocean and possible life on Europa. The JIMO mission would accomplish the science at Europa given highest priority in the Flagship mission class by the Decadal Survey Report. See

New Space Weather Journal Will Track Solar Science: Washington - Feb 10, 2003 - The American Geophysical Union will soon launch the first journal devoted to the emerging field of space weather and its impact on technical systems, including telecommunications, electric power, and satellite navigation. Space Weather: The International Journal of Research and Applications will present peer-reviewed research, as well as news, features, and opinion articles. See

Violent Truth Behind Sun's 'Gentle Giants' Uncovered
Solar physicists at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London (MSSL-UCL) have discovered new clues to understanding explosions on the Sun. See

Titan's Great Lakes: See

Carnegie Mellon Scientist to Develop Probes to Detect Life on Mars: Pittsburgh - Feb 12, 2003 - Carnegie Mellon University scientist Professor Alan Waggoner has received a three-year $900,000 award from NASA to develop fluorescent-dye-based systems to be used in remote operations to detect life on Mars and in other hostile or distant environments. See

NASA Study Shows How Water May Have Flowed On Ancient Mars: Moffett Field - Feb 13, 2003 - NASA scientists have discovered how an intricate Martian network of streams, rivers and lakes may have carried water across Mars. Using new three-dimensional data from the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft and a powerful state-of-the-art computer code that 'models' overland water flow, scientists visualized the complex flow of Martian water. See

The Martian Polar Caps Are Almost Entirely Water Ice: Pasadena - Feb 14, 2003 - For future Martian astronauts, finding a plentiful water supply may be as simple as grabbing an ice pick and getting to work. California Institute of Technology planetary scientists studying new satellite imagery think that the Martian polar ice caps are made almost entirely of water ice-with just a smattering of frozen carbon dioxide, or "dry ice," at the surface. See

February 9

Earliest Star Chart Found: Jan. 29 — A 32,000-year-old ivory table has revealed what might be the oldest image of a star chart, according to new research to be published by the European Society for Astronomy in Culture. See 

NASA Does Not Discount Impact Of Foam Debris: Houston (AFP) Feb 07, 2003 - NASA was again mulling the theory that a piece of foam broken off the space shuttle Columbia during lift-off could somehow have caused Saturday's tragedy. Meanwhile, Aviation Week has reported on that 'High-resolution images taken from a ground-based Air Force tracking camera in southwestern U.S. show serious structural damage to the inboard leading edge of Columbia's left wing, as the crippled orbiter flew overhead about 60 sec. before the vehicle broke up over Texas.' See 

February 2

The space shuttle Columbia disintegrated in flames over Texas yesterday just 16 minutes from home. All seven astronauts - six Americans and an Israeli - died as the shuttle broke apart, traveling 39 miles above the Earth at 12,500 m.p.h., and rained debris over hundreds of miles of countryside. See & 

DARK MATTER HALOS FOUND? Astrophysicists spot solution to puzzle of quasars' quick formation. See 

Meteorite Hints at Mars' Watery Past: Jan. 27 — Analysis of a Martian meteorite that fell to Earth suggests that magma rocks beneath the surface of the Red Planet once were rich in water, a scientific panel that carried out the study said here on Thursday. See 

South Pole Telescope Follows Trail Of Neutrinos Into Deepest Reaches Of The Universe
A unique telescope buried in Antarctic ice promises unparalleled insight into such extraordinary phenomena as colliding black holes, gamma-ray bursts, the violent cores of distant galaxies and the wreckage of exploded stars. See 

January 2003

January 25

The Inconstant Sun
Huntsville - Jan 20, 2003 - Our Sun may seem an enduring, unwavering beacon in the sky, but in truth it has a "heartbeat" of sorts--a pulsation between dimmer and brighter phases so slow that it only "beats" 9 times each century! See

Vital Signs Of Life On Distant Worlds
Paris (ESA) Jan 20, 2003 - Detecting Earth-sized planets is hard enough but how does an astrobiologist decide which of them are inhabited? Scientists are now working to understand what signals life might give off into space, so that when they do detect Earth-like planets they know what to look for. See

Media Hype Alone Cannot Fuel The Space Program
Los Angeles - Jan 21, 2003 - It seems to be the week for excessive hype where space is concerned. Over the last few days, three separate stories about developments and problems in space exploration have made a considerable splash -- but on more detailed inspection, all three have been overblown. See

Shuttle Columbia Crew Turns To Soot, Calcium, Elves And Sprites
Cape Canaveral (AFP) Jan 21, 2003 - Astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia on Tuesday turned their attention to experiments on weightlessness, calcium, soot, sprites and elves. NASA said the Columbia crew were performing experiments on the formation of soot, the propagation of calcium in the body, and observing elusive sprites and elves dancing on storm clouds. See

Electromagnetic Pulse Shockwaves As A result of Nuclear Pulse Propulsion
Tucson - Jan 22, 2003 - Throughout the course of history, many strange and unusual ideas have been discussed. Many of the strangest are in the attempt to fly. People have attempted to fly with devices as simple as a few boards with feathers attached to it, balloons filled with hot air, even specially shaped wings that miraculously allow one to fly. See

Astronomy: Feeding the first quasars 
Quasars, the oldest known objects in the Universe, are powered by gas falling into black holes at their centres. How black holes formed so early in time has been hard to explain, but a new model might have the answer. See 

Mars May Be Much Older Or Younger Than Thought: Buffalo - Jan 24, 2003 - Research by a University at Buffalo planetary geologist suggests that generally accepted estimates about the geologic age of surfaces on Mars -- which influence theories about its history and whether or not it once sustained life -- could be way off. See 

Shock Waves Through Solar Nebula May Explain Water-Rich Space Rocks: Tucson - Jan 24, 2003 - Shock waves through icy parts of the solar nebula could well be the mechanism that enriched meteorites with water -- water that some believe provided an otherwise dry Earth with oceans, according to a new study published in the current issue of Science (Jan. 24). See 

Isolated Star-forming Cloud Discovered In Intracluster Space
New observations by the Japanese 8-m Subaru telescope and the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) have now shown that massive stars can also form in isolation, far from the luminous parts of galaxies. During a most productive co-operation between astronomers working at these two world-class telescopes, a compact HII region has been discovered at the very boundary between the outer halo of a Virgo cluster galaxy and Virgo intracluster space. See 

January 19

New Moons Found Around Neptune: Boston - Jan 14, 2003 - A team of astronomers led by Matthew Holman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and JJ Kavelaars (National Research Council of Canada) has discovered three previously unknown moons of Neptune. See 

WANDERING STAR DESTINED FOR DWARFDOM?: Astronomers catch young star firing from cosmic slingshot. See 

YOUNG UNIVERSE GETS BUSY: Astronomers see cosmic activity from 13 billion years ago. See 

CAMERA GETS DEEPEST VIEW OF UNIVERSE: Galaxy group helps Hubble look back in time. See 

Earth Likely Spared From One Form Of Cosmic Doom: Greenbelt - Jan 13, 2003 - We have one less thing to worry about. While the cosmic debris from a nearby massive star explosion, called a supernova, could destroy the Earth's protective ozone layer and cause mass extinction, such an explosion would have to be much closer than previously thought, new calculations show. See 

Explaining the Moon's Ancient Magnetism: These days, a compass on the moon doesn't do much because there is no magnetic field to entice its hands to move. But it may not have always been so. Analysis of rocks recovered during the Apollo missions has uncovered telltale signs of ancient lunar magnetism. A new computer model may help explain the magnetism mystery. See 

Older Universe: Jan. 9 — The universe is at least 1.2 billion years older than previously thought, say cosmologists who have extracted the older age from ancient stars on the fringes of our galaxy. Pushing back the minimum age of the universe from 10 billion to 11.2 billion years not only means revising lots of textbooks, but it bolsters theories that there is a strange force called "dark energy" out there accelerating the expansion of the universe, said Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University and Brian Chaboyer of Dartmouth College. See 

January 12

Ring of stars found at Milky Way's edge
A newly discovered giant ring of stars on the outskirts of the Milky Way could be evidence of our galaxy's violent birth, astronomers said yesterday. See 

Milky Way Black Hole Said Explosive: Jan. 7 — The black hole at the core of the Milky Way galaxy is subject to frequent outbursts and a history of occasional large explosions, astronomers reported Monday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle. Astronomers used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to perform the longest X-ray look yet at the supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A*, in the constellation of Sagittarius. See 

Co2 Flows Could Carve Mars Gullies: Melbourne - Jan 06, 2003 - An Australian geologist has identified what could be the first ever active flow of fluids through gullies on Mars. University of Melbourne geologist, Dr Nick Hoffman, identified recent gully and channel development near the polar regions of Mars from images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. But contrary to the majority of scientific opinion which suggests that such features were carved by liquid water, Hoffman says the flow is most likely frozen carbon dioxide. See 

Universe Grows Younger By The Eon: Cleveland - Jan 09, 2003 - Cosmologists from Case Western Reserve University and Dartmouth College have continued efforts to refine the age of the universe by using new information from a variety of sources to calculate a new lower age limit that is 1.2 billion years higher than previous age limits. See 

First Neptune Trojan Discovered: Tucson - Jan 09, 2003 - Astronomers have discovered a small body orbiting the Sun at the distance of Neptune whose orbit makes it the first known member of a long-sought population of objects known as Neptune Trojans. See 

The Strange Case Of The Missing Moon's Magnetism: A 30-year-old riddle over the Moon's lost magnetism may finally be answered, scientists report on Thursday in Nature, the British science weekly. See 

Moon's Early History May Have Been Interrupted By Big Burp: Berkeley - Jan 10, 2003 - Using a state-of-the-art computer model of the lunar interior, geophysicists at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown that a mighty burp early in the moon's history could account for some of its geologic mysteries. See 

Speed Of Gravity Measured: Charlottesville - Jan 09, 2003 - Taking advantage of a rare cosmic alignment, scientists have made the first measurement of the speed at which the force of gravity propagates, giving a numerical value to one of the last unmeasured fundamental constants of physics. See 

Farthest Known Planet Opens the Door For Finding New Earths: Seattle - Jan 10, 2003 - WA-Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, MA, announced Monday that they have detected the most distant extrasolar planet (OGLE-TR-56b) ever found in the constellation Sagittarius using a new method that could lead to the discovery of Earth-like worlds around nearby stars. See 

Extrasolar Meteors Hint At Distant Planet Formation: Toronto - Jan 10, 2003 - University of Toronto astronomers say that detecting microscopic meteors from other solar systems could provide clues about the formation of planets like Earth. Dust streams from our sun's stellar neighbours consist of tiny grains of pulverized rock ejected from a disk of dust and debris that commonly surrounds young stars, says Canadian scientist Joseph Weingartner. See 

Hubble Allows Glimpse Of End Of Dark Ages Of Universe: WASHINGTON (AFP) Jan 10, 2003 - The Hubble space telescope has allowed astronomers to see the end of the universe's "Dark Ages," the cosmic era less than a billion years after the Big Bang when the universe consisted of dark matter and hot gas. See 

Scientists Catch Their First Elusive "Dark" Gamma-Ray Burst: Greenbelt - Jan 10, 2003 - For the first time, scientists -- racing the clock -- have snapped a photo of an unusual type of gamma-ray-burst event one minute after the explosion. They captured a particularly fast-fading type of "dark" burst, which comprises about half of all gamma-ray bursts. See 

January 4

Black Crunch jams Universal cycle: The Universe is not as bouncy as some think, say two physicists. If a Big Crunch follows the Big Bang, it may get stuck that way for ever. See 

Jupiter's Moon, Io Spews Salt: The Jupiter satellite Io, one of the most volcanic bodies in the Solar System, has an atmosphere laced with salt, disgorged by its fiery eruptions, a French-led team of astronomers reported Thursday. See 

Dark Energy Dominates the Universe: HANOVER, NH - A Dartmouth researcher is building a case for a "dark energy"-dominated universe. Dark energy, the mysterious energy with unusual anti-gravitational properties, has been the subject of great debate among cosmologists. See