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News briefs: December 20
Posted: Fri, Dec 21, 2001, 10:30 AM ET (1530 GMT)
  • The NASA Advisory Council announced Thursday that it concurred with the conclusions and recommendations about the International Space Station program made last month by an independent panel. The Council released a set of goals designed to get the ISS program on track; those goals were closely aligned with the independent panel's recommendations. The Council's report was criticized by one member of Congress, Rep. Ralph Hall (D-TX), who said that the report did nothing to address issues such as the need to increase the station's crew size.
  • Astronomers who published a paper earlier this year claiming to have found planet-sized bodies in interstellar space in a globular cluster have retracted their discovery, Wired News reported. In a follow-up paper to be published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, astronomers said that the bodies they thought they had discovered in the cluster M22 through a technique known as gravitational microlensing were in fact cosmic-ray hits on the telescope that coincided with a star.
  • The European Space Agency has named Josť Achache as its new director of earth observation, the agency announced Thursday. Achache, a geophysicist most recently employed as deputy director-general for science at the French space agency CNES, will begin his four-year term early next year.
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