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Soyuz moves ports
The three-man Expedition 14 crew of the International Space Station complete a short trip, flying their Soyuz capsule to another docking port in preparation for receiving a resupply ship.

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STS-39: Military maneuvers
Space shuttle Discovery's STS-39 flight, launched in April 1991, served as a research mission for the U.S. Department of Defense. An instrument-laden spacecraft for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization was released to watch Discovery perform countless rocket firings and maneuvers, as well as canisters releasing clouds of gas. The crew tells the story of the mission in this post-flight film presentation.

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STS-37: Spacewalkers help Gamma Ray Observatory
Seeking to study explosive forces across the universe, the Gamma Ray Observatory was launched aboard shuttle Atlantis in April 1991. But when the craft's communications antenna failed to unfold, spacewalking astronauts ventured outside the shuttle to save the day. The rescue EVA was followed by a planned spacewalk to test new equipment and techniques. The crew of STS-37 narrate this post-flight mission film.

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Mars rover seen by orbiter
Dazzling images from Mars are revealed by scientists. The robotic rover Opportunity has reached the massive Victoria crater with its steep cliffs and layers of rock exposing the planet's geologic history. Meanwhile, the new Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has photographed the rover and its surroundings from high above.


STS-35: Insights into lifestyles of the galaxies
Loaded with a package of telescopes in its payload bay, shuttle Columbia soared into space for the first ASTRO mission in December 1990. The crew narrates this highlights film from the STS-35 mission in which the astronauts worked around the clock in two shifts to operate the observatory. The flight launched and then landed at night, and included the astronauts teaching from space.

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Hubble discovery
n this news conference from NASA Headquarters, scientists announce the Hubble Space Telescope's discovery of 16 extrasolar planet candidates orbiting a variety of distant stars in the central region of our Milky Way galaxy. Five of the newly found planets represent a new extreme type of planet not found in any nearby searches.

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Flies in a spider's web: Galaxy caught in the making
Posted: October 12, 2006

New Hubble images have provided a dramatic glimpse of a large massive galaxy under assembly as smaller galaxies merge. This has commonly been thought to be the way galaxies grew in the young Universe, but now Hubble observations of the radio galaxy MRC 1138-262, nicknamed the "Spiderweb Galaxy," have shown dozens of star-forming satellite galaxies in the actual process of merging.

Credit: NASA, ESA, George Miley and Roderik Overzier (Leiden Observatory, the Netherlands)
Download larger image version here

In nature spiders earn our respect by constructing fascinating, well- organised webs in all shapes and sizes. But the beauty masks a cruel, fatal trap. Analogously, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has found a large galaxy 10.6 billion light-years away from Earth (at a redshift of 2.2) that is stuffing itself with smaller galaxies caught like flies in a web of gravity. The galaxy is so far away that astronomers are seeing it as it looked in the early formative years of the Universe, only 2 billion years after the Big Bang.

The Hubble image shows the Spiderweb Galaxy sitting at the centre of an emergent galaxy cluster, surrounded by hundreds of other galaxies from the cluster.

Team leader George Miley from Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands explains: "The new Hubble image is the best demonstration so far that large massive galaxies are built up by merging smaller ones." The image reaches much deeper than previous ones and shows the merging process in unprecedented detail. Galaxies can be seen as they are sucked into the Spiderweb at speeds of several hundred kilometres per second, from distances of more than a hundred thousand light-years around it.

Radio telescopes have shown that jets of fast particles are being spewed out from the centre of the Spiderweb Galaxy with enormous energies. These jets are believed to be produced by a massive black hole buried deep in the nucleus of the system. The infalling galaxy "flies" are a source of food for this black hole "spider", allowing it to continue disgorging the jets.

The new Hubble image provides a unique real-world example for testing theoretical models of massive galaxy formation. The complexity and clumpiness of the Spiderweb agrees qualitatively with the predictions of such models, but a surprising feature of the Spiderweb Galaxy is the presence of several faint small linear galaxies within the merging structure.

The Spiderweb Galaxy is located in the southern constellation of Hydra (the water snake) and is one of the most massive galaxies known.

This result was published 10th October 2006 in Astrophysical Journal Letters.