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Astronomy 2006

  1. -01-05-06 Lasers Promise Greatly Improved Interplanetary Communications (
      "Interplanetary space probes currently communicate via microwaves, but those transmitters are not as tightly focused as laser beams. This spreading reduces microwave power received, and thus the maximum data rate. For example, NASA's Mars Odyssey probe can send only 128,000 bits per second to Earth."

      "Because laser beams spread much more slowly, they can deliver more power to ground-based optical receivers, allowing higher data rates." 01-06

  2. -01-12-06 Best Images of 2006 (
      Provides's 20 nominees for best space images for 2006. 01-06

  3. -01-12-06 Orion Nebula Revealed in Pictures (MSNBC News)
      "Scientists have created the most detailed portrait ever of the closest known star factory, the Orion Nebula. They have also uncovered new details about the stellar winds responsible for carving out the nebula's ghostly skyscapes." 01-06

  4. -01-12-06 Stardust Mission to Return with Comet Dust (
      "NASA's Stardust mission return capsule will land Sunday, Jan. 15, at approximately 2:12 a.m. Pacific time (3:12 a.m. Mountain time) on the Utah Test and Training Range. Stardust is completing a 2.88 billion mile round-trip odyssey to capture and return cometary and interstellar dust particles to Earth." 01-06

  5. -01-15-06 Spacecraft Arrives on Earth With Comet Sample (
      "A NASA capsule carrying pieces of a comet landed safely at a U.S. Air Force testing range in the Utah desert this morning after a two-year journey aboard the agency's Stardust spacecraft." 01-06

  6. -01-20-06 Probe for Pluto Departs (Time Magazine)
      "A space probe starts its nine-year journey to explore the last planet—or at least, the one we used to think was last." 01-06

  7. -01-28-06 Myths About the Challenger Shuttle Disaster (MSNBC News)
      "It didn't explode, the crew didn't die instantly and it wasn't inevitable."

      "The [astronaut's] cabin hit the surface [of the ocean] 2 minutes and 45 seconds after breakup, and all investigations indicate the crew was still alive until then." 01-06

  8. -02-01-06 10th Planet Bigger than Pluto (Scientific American)
      " When astronomers announced the discovery of UB313, the so-called tenth planet, a little more than a year ago, they had a hunch it might be bigger than Pluto because of its brightness. But despite several attempts to observe more closely the mysterious object orbiting the sun at a distance of more than 14 billion kilometers, accurate estimates of its size remained elusive. Now German astronomers working in Spain have determined that UB313 has a diameter of roughly 3,000 kilometers--roughly 700 kilometers larger than Pluto's.”

      "Outside the range of visible light, the scientists could measure the amount of light the object absorbs and then radiates back as heat. By combining the infrared and visible measurements, they could then determine the object's size and its overall reflectivity, or albedo." 01-06

  9. -02-03-06 Students to Track Orbiting Spacesuit (USA Today)
      "The spacesuit project, known as SuitSat-1, was the brainchild of a Russian ham radio operator. It will send several words in code for schoolchildren listening on the ground. Radio operators will be able to pick up the messages by tuning into FM frequency 145.990 MHz."

      "Along with the radio transmitter, the stuffed spacesuit also will have internal sensors to monitor temperature and battery power. As it floats along, it will transmit its temperature, battery power and time it has been in space to the ground." 02-06

  1. -01-25-06 Earth-Like Planet Discovered (Times Online)
      "The most Earth-like planet yet discovered beyond the solar system has been detected orbiting a distant star, boosting the chances that life exists elsewhere in the galaxy."

      "The icy, rocky world is just five times larger than our own, making it the smallest and most similar to Earth of all the 160 "exoplanets" around other stars that astronomers have found so far." 01-06


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