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Space News Archive - August 30, 2006

British composer Colin Matthews has more reason than most to mourn the demotion of Pluto from planet to mere "dwarf planet."

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Amateur astronomers, grab your telescopes. A spaceship is about to crash into the Moon, and you may be able to see the impact. The spacecraft is named SMART-1, a lunar orbiter belonging to the European Space Agency (ESA).

Teams of international scientists have used observations from NASA's Swift satellite and other telescopes to witness the evolution of a cosmic blast into a stellar explosion or supernova.

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Since 1999, a lot of things have come and gone. But NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which unveiled its first images just a few months shy of the new millennium, continues to make headlines seven years later.

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A cosmic explosion seen last February may have been the "tip of an iceberg," showing that powerful, distant gamma ray bursts are outnumbered ten-to-one by less-energetic cousins, according to an international team of astronomers.

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Astronomers, using ESO's Very Large Telescope, have for the first time made the link between an X-ray flash and a supernova. Such flashes are the little siblings of gamma-ray bursts (GRB) and this discovery suggests the existence of a population of events less luminous than 'classical' GRBs, but possibly much more numerous.

NASA got more breathing room to launch the space shuttle Atlantis next week thanks to an agreement with the Russian space agency, which has its own spaceflight plans.

Word of the Day
grass-comber
  • A landsman who is making his first voyage at sea; a novice who enters naval service from rural life.
According to the OED, a grass-comber is also 'a sailor's term for one who has been a farm-labourer.'