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News briefs: August 22
Posted: Thu, Aug 22, 2002, 7:54 AM ET (1154 GMT)
  • NASA has yet to detect a signal from the CONTOUR spacecraft a week after the engine burn that triggered its silence, further reducing hopes that the mission can be salvaged. The project plans "near-continuous" monitoring for signals from the spacecraft through Sunday before scaling back efforts to once a week. A final concentrated effort to contact CONTOUR is planned for early December.
  • Globalstar plans to dramatically cut the price of its satellite phone service in the US in an effort to increase usage. The company will cut rates by up to 80 percent for high-volume users, who would get rates as low as 17 cents a minute, on par with some terrestrial phone rates. Globalstar, operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, expects to receive $50-100 million in new investment that will allow it to complete its reorganization by the end of the year.
  • Russia and India are in discussions to revive a proposed astronomy mission, the Times of India reported. India was to provide several instruments for Photon, a Russian gamma-ray astronomy satellite, but the project was shelved in the mid-90s because of funding shortfalls in Russia. The two countries are discussing reviving the project, using instruments India built and since put into storage, with a launch proposed in 2006.
  • Astronomers have captured the first view of Mars in x-rays, Sky and Telescope reported. The image, obtained by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, showed that Mars has a dim glow of x-rays caused by oxygen atoms fluorescing in the upper atmosphere, as observed in the atmospheres of other planets.
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