2005 has been filled with many new space developments and discoveries. Check out our list of the top 10 space stories from this year. Click on the links to read more and check out pictures.
10. Spirit and Opportunity, Still Exploring Mars
What would it be like to see a sunset on Mars? To help find out, the robotic rover Spirit was deployed in June 2005 to park and serenely watch the Sun dip below the distant lip of Gusev crater. It was a tough job, but some robot had to do it. Now on Earth a red sunset is caused by two effects -- by blue light being preferentially scattered out of sunlight by oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere, and by scattering off a small amount of impurities like volcanic dust.
Visit http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap050620.html for more information.
9. Cassini's Discoveries
Methane rain, evaporating lakes, flowing rivers, and water ice-volcanoes all likely exist on Saturn's moon Titan, according to preliminary analyses of recent images taken by the successful Huygens lander. Titan's surface was found to appear strangely similar to Earth even though it is so cold that methane flows and water freezes into rock-hard ice. Although the Huygens probe has now run out of power, the images it returned will likely be studied for decades to come.
During the Cassini spacecraft's only close flyby of the grayish moon, on Oct. 11, 2005, the spacecraft came within 500 kilometers (310 miles) of the surface. Like most of its counterparts in the Saturnian system, Dione shows a heavily cratered surface. It has a signature style all its own that includes streaky terrains dominating one whole side of the moon.
Visit http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap050124.html and http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/media/cassinif-2005-10-17.html for more information.
8. Deep Impact Comet May Have Formed in Giant Planets Region
Comet Tempel 1 may have been born in the region of the solar system occupied by Uranus and Neptune today, according to one possibility from an analysis of the comet's debris blasted into space by NASA's Deep Impact mission. If correct, the observation supports a wild scenario for the solar system's youth, where the planets Uranus and Neptune may have traded places and scattered comets to deep space.
Visit http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/press/050919nasa.html for more information.
7. In a Flash NASA Helps Solve 35-year Old Cosmic Mystery
Scientists have solved the 35-year-old mystery of the origin of powerful, split-second flashes of light known as short gamma-ray bursts. These flashes, brighter than a billion suns, yet lasting only a few milliseconds, have been simply too fast to catch - until now. Through the unprecedented coordination of observations from several ground-based telescopes and NASA satellites, scientists determined the flashes arise from violent collisions in space. The clashes are either between a black hole and a neutron star or between two neutron stars. In either scenario, the impact creates a new black hole.
Visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/swift/bursts/short_burst_press_release.html for more information.
6. NASA Marks Five Years of Continuous International Space Station Living
Break out the thermostabilized beef tips with mushrooms and rehydratable apple cider! NASA and the international space station partners celebrate a major milestone, as the unique orbiting laboratory marks the fifth anniversary of continuous, onboard human presence. As of November 2, 2005, crews have lived and worked on the station more than 1,826 consecutive days. "This milestone for the station is really only the first leg in a much longer journey," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations. "The experiences we're having on station with crews on long-duration missions are teaching us what it will take to send astronauts on longer missions to the moon and into the solar system." The station is an important step in international space exploration; 16 countries joined together on the largest, most complex peacetime multinational space program in history. Since the first crew arrived November 2, 2000, the station has grown from a room with a fantastic view into an unparalleled, state-of-the-art laboratory complex.
Visit http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/spacenews/releases/2005/J05-051.html for more information.
5. NASA's Hubble Discovers New Rings and Moons Around Uranus
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope photographed a new pair of rings around Uranus and two new, small moons orbiting the planet. The largest ring is twice the diameter of the planet's previously known rings. The rings are so far from the planet, they are being called Uranus' "second ring system." One of the new moons shares its orbit with one of the rings. Analysis of the Hubble data also reveals the orbits of Uranus' family of inner moons have changed significantly over the past decade.
Visit http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2005/dec/HQ_05590_HST_Uranus_update.html for more information.
4. Discovery Launches into Orbit
The earth trembled and engines roared as Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 10:39 a.m. EDT. A billowing shroud of smoke followed the Shuttle as it soared higher and higher in the skies, and cameras followed as it left Earth and entered the black realm of space.
Visit http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight for more information.
3. Hurricane Katrina
Warm ocean waters fuel hurricanes, and there was plenty of warm water for Katrina to build up strength once she crossed over Florida and moved into the Gulf of Mexico. The data came from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite.
2. 10th Planet Discovered
A planet larger than Pluto has been discovered in the outlying regions of the solar system. The planet was discovered using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory near San Diego, Calif. The discovery was announced today by planetary scientist Dr. Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., whose research is partly funded by NASA. The planet is a typical member of the Kuiper belt, but its sheer size in relation to the nine known planets means that it can only be classified as a planet, Brown said. Currently about 97 times further from the sun than the Earth, the planet is the farthest-known object in the solar system, and the third brightest of the Kuiper belt objects.
Visit http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/newplanet-072905.html for more information.
1. Tsunami-Causing Earthquake Changed Rotation of Earth
NASA scientists using data from the Indonesian earthquake calculated it affected Earth's rotation, decreased the length of day, slightly changed the planet's shape, and shifted the North Pole by centimeters. The earthquake that created the huge tsunami also changed the Earth's rotation.Dr. Benjamin Fong Chao, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. and Dr. Richard Gross of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. said all earthquakes have some affect on Earth's rotation. It's just they are usually barely noticeable.
Visit http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/indonesia_quake.html for more information.
| || || || |