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News briefs: July 25
Posted: Fri, Jul 26, 2002, 8:11 AM ET (1211 GMT)
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee approved Thursday a proposed 2003 budget for NASA that gives the space agency $15.2 billion, $200 million than originally requested. The full committee left intact changes made earlier in the week by a subcommittee, including adding $105 million for the New Horizons Pluto mission. The House is not expected to take up its version of the NASA budget until after the August recess.
  • Spacecraft need to switch from radio communications to lasers to avoid overloading communications systems on Earth, according to a paper in the current issue of Science. The growing number of spacecraft missions and the amount of data they return is overloading NASA's Deep Space Network and threatens to create a "data transmission bottleneck" that could hamper future missions. The paper's authors believe that a transition to a laser system, which could handle much larger volumes of data, could be made in 10-15 years if work starts now.
  • New images from NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft continue to debunk the myth of the "Face on Mars", reported Thursday. The infrared images of the Cydonia region of Mars add to the evidence that the landforms in that region have been carved away by wind erosion and slumping rock, not by any intelligent process. The landforms in Cydonia first gained attention in the 1970s when Viking images showed what appeared to be a face; later images from Mars Global Surveyor revealed that the region appeared far less like a face than previously thought.
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news links
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