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New lunar mission
During this NASA news conference on April 10, agency officials unveil the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, that will launch piggyback with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft in October 2008. LCROSS will use the launch vehicle's spent upper stage to crash into the moon's south pole in an explosive search for water.

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LCROSS mission plan
Daniel Andrews, the LCROSS project manager from NASA's Ames Research Center, narrates this animation depicting the mission from launch through impact on the lunar surface.

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STS-1 crew looks back
In this highly entertaining program, commander John Young and pilot Bob Crippen of the first space shuttle crew tell stories and memories from STS-1. The two respected astronauts visited Kennedy Space Center on April 6 to mark the upcoming 25th anniversary of Columbia's maiden voyage.

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STS-41G crew film
The October 1984 flight of space shuttle Challenger featured a diverse set of accomplishments. The Earth Radiation Budget Satellite environmental spacecraft was deployed and a planet-mapping radar was tested. The seven-person crew was led by Bob Crippen and included the first Canadian in space, Marc Garneau, and the first time two women, Sally Ride and Kathryn Sullivan, had flown aboard one flight. Sullivan and Dave Leestma also conducted a spacewalk to demonstrate techniques for refueling satellites. The crew narrates this post-flight film of STS-41G.

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STS-37 anniversary
On April 5, 1991, space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Kennedy Space Center carrying the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory -- NASA's second Great Observatory. Launch occurred at 9:23 a.m. from pad 39B.

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Crew news conference
The combined Expedition 12 and 13 crews, along with visiting Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes, hold this in-flight news conference with reporters in Houston, Cape Canaveral and Moscow on April 3. The crews are handing over duties during this week-long handover before Expedition 12 returns to Earth from the space station.

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Soyuz docking
The Russian Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft carrying the Expedition 13 resident crew successfully docks to the Zarya module of the International Space Station under automated control.

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Next station crew
Full coverage of the Expedition 13 crew's launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to begin a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.

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Solar eclipse from ISS
External cameras on the International Space Station captured this incredible footage of the March 29 solar eclipse. The station flew through the eclipse over the Middle East as the moon passed in front of the sun and cast its shadow on the Earth.

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Total solar eclipse
A total solar eclipse occurred March 29. This video from Side, Turkey shows the period of totality when the moon slid between the Earth and Sun. The eclipse revealed the Sun's glowing outer halo of million-degree gas, called the solar corona.

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Mars rovers head for new sites after studying layers
NASA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: April 12, 2006

NASA's Mars rover Spirit has reached a safe site for the Martian winter, while its twin, Opportunity, is making fast progress toward a destination of its own.

The two rovers recently set out on important -- but very different -- drives after earlier weeks inspecting sites with layers of Mars history. Opportunity finished examining sedimentary evidence of ancient water at a crater called "Erebus," and is now rapidly crossing flat ground toward the scientific lure of a much larger crater, "Victoria."

Spirit studied signs of a long-ago explosion at a bright, low plateau called "Home Plate" during February and March. Then one of its six wheels quit working, and Spirit struggled to complete a short advance to a north-facing slope for the winter.

"For Spirit, the priority has been to reach a safe winter haven," said Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover project.

The rovers have operated more than eight times as long as their originally planned three-month explorations on Mars. Each has driven more than 6.8 kilometers (4.2 miles) about 11 times as far as planned. Combined, they have returned more than 150,000 images. Two years ago, the project had already confirmed that at least one place on Mars had a wet and possibly habitable environment long ago. The scientific findings continue.

Opportunity spent most of the past four months at Erebus, a highly eroded impact crater about 300 meters (1,000 feet) in diameter, where the rover found extensive exposures of thin, rippled layering interpreted as a fingerprint of flowing water.

"What we see at Erebus is a thicker interval of wetted sediment than we've seen anywhere else," said Dr. John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology, "The same outcrops also have cracks that may have formed from wetting and drying."

In mid-March, Opportunity began a 2-kilometer (1.6-mile) trek from Erebus to Victoria, a crater about 800 meters (half a mile) across, where a thick sequence of sedimentary rocks is exposed. In the past three weeks, Opportunity has already driven more than a fourth of that distance.

At Home Plate, Spirit found coarse layering overlain by finer layering in a pattern that fits accumulation of material falling to the ground after a volcanic or impact explosion. In one place, the layers are deformed where a golfball-size rock appears to have fallen on them while they were soft.

"Geologists call that a 'bomb sag,' and it is strong evidence for some kind of explosive origin," Squyres said. "We would like to have had time to study Home Plate longer, but we needed to head for a north-facing slope before winter got too bad."

Spirit is in Mars' southern hemisphere, where the sun is crossing lower in the northern sky each day. The rovers rely on solar power. The amount available will keep dropping until the shortest days of the Mars winter, four months from now. To keep producing enough electricity to run overnight heaters that protect vital electronics, Spirit's solar panels must be tilted toward the winter sun by driving the rover onto north-facing slopes. However, on March 13 the right-front wheel's drive motor gave out.

Spirit has subsequently driven about 80 meters (262 feet) using five wheels and dragging the sixth, but an initial route toward a large hill proved impassable due to soft ground.

Last week, the team chose a smaller nearby ridge, dubbed "Low Ridge Haven," as the winter destination. Spirit reached the ridge Sunday and has a favorable 11-degree tilt toward the north.

"We have to use care choosing the type of terrain we drive over," Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, a rover planner at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., said about the challenge of five-wheel driving. In tests at JPL, the team has been practicing a maneuver to gain additional tilt by perching the left-front wheel on a basketball-size rock.

Spending eight months or so at Low Ridge Haven will offer time for many long-duration studies that members of the science team have been considering since early in the mission, said Dr. Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, deputy principal investigator. These include detailed mapping of rocks and soils; in-depth determination of rock and soil composition; monitoring of clouds and other atmospheric changes; watching for subtle surface changes due to winds; and learning properties of the shallow subsurface by tracking surface-temperature changes over a span of months.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate.

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STS-134 Patch

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The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!
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Final Shuttle Mission Patch

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The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!
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Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
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STS-133 Patch

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The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!
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Anniversary Shuttle Patch

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This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
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Mercury anniversary

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Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
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Ares 1-X Patch
The official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.
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Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
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Expedition 21
The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.
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Hubble Patch
The official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase.
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