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News briefs: January 15
Posted: Wed, Jan 16, 2002, 9:03 AM ET (1403 GMT)
  • The Pegasus XL launch of NASA's High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (HESSI) spacecraft has been delayed again, until at least February 1, SPACE.com reported Tuesday. The launch was pushed back from January 24 to allow time to investigate the failure last month of a missile defense booster that uses a rocket stage similar to one on Pegasus. The HESSI launch has been delayed for over six months primarily because the launch failure of the X-43A in June 2001.
  • The discovery of Antarctic microbes has raised hopes that life could still exist on Mars. An article in the journal Icarus reported the discover of microbes in Antarctic dry valleys in soils so rich with salts that water remained liquid at temperatures far below 0 Celsius. Those conditions, scientists say, are not too dissimilar to conditions on Mars, particularly during periods when Mars was warmer than it is today.
  • European astronomers are keeping hopes alive for a mission to look for extrasolar planets despite budgetary problems and a similar NASA mission. The Eddington mission was chosen by ESA as a backup mission in the event one of several other missions encountered problems. However, budget problems by ESA and NASA's selection of Kepler, a spacecraft with a nearly identical mission, are threatening Eddington's future. Scientists, though, believe the uncertain ESA space science budget could work in their favor if other missions encounter greater problems.
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news links
Wednesday, November 22
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