"Using a relatively new planet-hunting technique that can spot worlds one-tenth the mass of our own, researchers have discovered a potentially rocky, icy body that may be the smallest planet yet found orbiting a star outside our solar system."
Space & Planetary Science: January 2006 Archives
"Now that we are safely on our way, we know that our journey will take precisely 3462.7 days, i.e., from 19:00 UTC on Jan, 19, 2006, to 12:00 UTC July 14, 2015, to reach Pluto. Encounter science operations will begin about 150 days before we reach Pluto."
"NASA's Imager for Magnetopause-to- Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) satellite recently ceased operations, bringing to a close a successful six-year mission."
"This morning, at 9:41am PST the TOPEX/Poseidon spacecraft mission was terminated."
Editor's update: New Horizons' PI Alan Stern just announced that the spacecraft is carrying some of Clyde Tombaugh's ashes. Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930.
"Success! NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has launched at 2:00 pm EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a fast-moving Atlas V rocket. It's headed for a distant rendezvous with the mysterious planet Pluto almost a decade from now. The third time was the charm for New Horizons. Two consecutive launch attempts earlier in the week were foiled by high winds at the launch site and a power outage at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory."
Scientists have confirmed that samples from a comet and interstellar dust have been returned to Earth by the Stardust spacecraft. "The collection of cometary particles has exceeded our expectations," said Dr. Donald Brownlee. The scientist team opened the Stardust sample return capsule on Tuesday in a special facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston.
January 18 - Update: Today's launch has been delayed for at least one more day. The Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory experienced a power outage early this morning.
Editor's note: The new launch time is now 3:23 pm EST - at the end of the window - so as to allow the winds to be better understood.
Update: The launch has been scrubbed due to excessive winds. The launch will be recycled for 24 hours from now.
"An MSR mission directly supports the eventual human exploration of Mars. Results from sample return will provide science and engineering data not readily obtainable by remote sensing or in-situ analysis. It further demonstrates "proof-of-concept" and learning relevant to the round-trip essential for human exploration of Mars. Similarly, it can provide the model for how to conduct an international human Mars exploration program. An MSR mission in the 2016/2018 opportunity will provide the public with a tangible demonstration that the United States is taking steps towards human exploration beyond the moon."
"NASA's Stardust sample return mission returned safely to Earth when the capsule carrying cometary and interstellar particles successfully touched down at 2:10 a.m. PST in the desert salt flats of the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range.Stardust released its sample return capsule at 9:57 p.m. PST last night. The capsule entered the atmosphere four hours later at 1:57 a.m. PST. The drogue and main parachutes deployed at 2:00 and 2:05 a.m. PST respectively."
Moon rocks stolen from vehicle in Virginia Beach, Virginia Pilot
"Several lunar rocks were stolen this week from a car belonging to a NASA instructor, police said. Virginia Beach police said the theft of the rare specimens was reported Tuesday morning. They were inside a silver briefcase that was also taken."
"In short, we who run NASA today are doing our very best to preserve a robust science program in the face of, frankly, some daunting fiscal realities that affect all domestic discretionary spending. These realities dictate that we set priorities; NASA simply cannot accomplish everything that was on our plate when I took office last April. In space-based astronomy, and in other areas, we will have to make tough trade-offs between maintaining current missions, of which there are 14 ongoing, and developing new capabilities. The astronomy community has faced this same issue with respect to ground based telescopes as well."
"I think I just said this was not about taking money from the science programs for human space flight and it's not. The science program has not--in our forward planning, we do not take one thin dime out of the science program in order to execute this architecture. It is about re-directing what we do in the human space flight program."
"In an exclusive report, AW&ST says that in addition to precautions at Cape Canaveral, the U.S. State Dept. is contacting Australia and several nations in southern Africa to ensure public safety as the probe passes near those countries during the latter phases of the launch. Reunion Island, a popular French vacation spot, also lies underneath the basic flight path, the magazine reports."
Upcoming NASA launch draws anti-nuke protesters, Orlando Sentinel
"About 30 demonstrators gathered outside the south gate of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday to protest the upcoming launch of a plutonium-powered NASA probe. ... Saturday's event was very different from 1997, when 800 people showed up to protest the launch of NASA's Cassini spacecraft on a mission to Saturn with three times as much plutonium. Twenty-seven demonstrators were arrested, including some who scaled the base's security fence."
Editor's note: Wow. 30 demonstrators in 2006, 800 in 1997. I guess they are losing interest.