Jul 31, 2009
The shuttle mission that didn't get off the ground until its sixth scheduled launch attempt earlier this month made it home much more smoothly, landing this morning during its first opportunity to do so. Endeavour returned to Earth at 10:48 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time), touching down at Kennedy Space Center in Florida under blue skies.
In a 16-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the seven-member crew of Endeavour delivered and installed the final pieces of the station's Japanese Kibo science lab. NASA now rates the ISS as 83 percent complete—only recently did it reach its design capacity of six resident crew members. With the shuttle slated to be retired next year, NASA has a packed full manifest of launches so that the ISS can be finished before the U.S. loses its capacity to send humans into orbit.
Jun 10, 2009
The Japanese Kaguya spacecraft, in orbit around the moon since 2007, was scheduled to meet its planned demise today with a lunar impact at about 2:25 P.M. EDT. More than two hours later a link to a photo that may show the probe's plunge appeared on Twitter, but before that time confirmation was hard to come by, and details remain scarce.
A call to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) public affairs office reached a recorded message in Japanese, and a NASA spokesperson did not have details on the probe's impact. Calls to two observatories in Australia, where the event may have been visible through telescopes, went unanswered. And Alan Gilmore, resident superintendent at Mount John University Observatory in New Zealand, told ScientificAmerican.com that bad weather prevented a viewing opportunity from his location. "It was going to be a long shot anyway," Gilmore says, given Kaguya's planned landing site at the very edge of the moon's visible face.
Feb 12, 2009 | 1
A new, high-resolution topographic map of the lunar surface indicates that the outer layers of the moon are likely bone dry. The new data, obtained from a laser-mapping instrument onboard the Japanese SELENE satellite, also known as Kaguya, shows that the moon's surface is rigid, not buoyant and flexible as would be expected if a significant amount of water flowed underneath it.
"The surface can tell us a lot about what's happening inside the moon, but until now mapping has been very limited," study co-author C. K. Shum, a professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University, said in a statement. "For instance, with this new high-resolution map, we can confirm that there is very little water on the Moon today, even deep in the interior. And we can use that information to think about water on other planets, including Mars."
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