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News briefs: November 8
Posted: Fri, Nov 9, 2001, 9:57 AM ET (1457 GMT)
  • A new survey has reduced estimates of the number of asteroids in the solar system, and thus the risk of an impact by one. Astronomers using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey believe there are 700,000 asteroids 1 km in diameter or larger in the solar system, down from previous estimates of 2 million. The risk of an impact by such an object has dropped correspondingly from 1-in-1,500 to 1-in-5,000.
  • SPACEHAB reported Thursday a loss of $2.9 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2002. The loss is half of what it reported in the previous quarter, but on revenue about a quarter less. Company executives said they are making continued progress in an effort to return to profitability.
  • Satellite operators are keeping a watchful eye on the Leonid meteor shower later this month but are confident it should not pose a problem to orbiting spacecraft, SPACE.com reported this week. Of particular concern are military spacecraft currently engaged in the war effort, but an Air Force spokesperson said that they will take "appropriate" action to ensure the satellites are not affected by the potentially major shower.
  • Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile have successfully combined light for the first time from two 8.2-meter telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT). Astronomers used the observations to measure the diameter of the giant star Alpha Eridani. Eventually all four telescopes of the VLT will be combined in this manner, creating a single telescope with an effective diameter of 16 meters
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