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News briefs: August 7
Posted: Thu, Aug 8, 2002, 10:21 AM ET (1421 GMT)
  • NASA's Stardust spacecraft has started collecting interstellar dust grains, project officials reported this week. The spacecraft's particle collector, which traps dust particles in a layer of aerogel, will remain deployed until December. It is the second and final collection pass for the spacecraft, launched in 1999. Stardust will also collect dust and gas from comet Wild 2 when it flies past it in January 2004.
  • NASA released the first images this week from the Aqua Earth-observing spacecraft. Images from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder spectrometer, as well as data from two other instruments, "are exceeding the expectations" of scientists, NASA said in a statement. Ironically, the spacecraft was in safe mode when the images were released: a software glitch had put the spacecraft in safe mode last week, and a software patch designed to correct the problem was scheduled to be uploaded this week.
  • Two arcs of gas around a galaxy may be evidence of a massive explosion that took place there, scientists said Wednesday. The arcs of hot gas surrounding Centaurus A were spotted in Chandra X-Ray Observatory images of the galaxy. The arcs are thought to be part of a ring 25,000 light-years in diameter that is the remnant of an explosion that took place there 10 million years ago.
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