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News briefs: April 5
Posted: Sat, Apr 6, 2002, 10:32 AM ET (1532 GMT)
  • Space tourist Mark Shuttleworth has been approved to be a part of the Soyuz crew that will fly to the International Space Station late this month. Shuttleworth, a South African entrepreneur who made millions with an Internet startup in the late 1990s, will join Yuri Gidzenko and Roberto Vittori on the Soyuz TM-34 spacecraft. The launch is currently scheduled for April 25 from Baikonur.
  • The number of asteroids in the main belt may be twice as high as previously believed, according to data from a European spacecraft. Observations of a small region of the sky taken in 1996 and 1997 by the Infrared Space Observatory showed a density of 160 asteroids 1 km in diameter or larger per square degree. When extrapolated over the whole belt astronomers find there are 1.1 to 1.9 million asteroids that size in the entire belt, about twice as many as earlier believed.
  • Two scientists recently conducted a search for asteroids in the innermost solar system using an instrument mounted on a jet fighter. The Southwest Research Institute scientists worked with NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center to fly an ultraviolet instrument during a three-hour night flight campaign on an F/A-18 jet to look for vulcanoids, asteroids that orbit the Sun closer than Mercury. First results from the observations are expected late this month.
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