Spaceflight Now: Breaking News
Sunday: October 29, 2000  0545 GMT
100th Ariane 4 blasts off
After a one-day postponement because of unfavorable winds aloft, Europe's Ariane 4 rocket completed its 100th flight this morning. The first Europe*Star communications satellite was successfully delivered into space following a 21-minute ride.
Mars rock tests reveal life can jump between planets
New research celebrated Martian meteorite ALH84001 supports the theory that life on Earth could originally have arrived here by way of meteorites from the Red Planet.
Studying the mystery that was Comet LINEAR
New analysis of observations of Comet LINEAR, a comet whose breakup in late July and early August made headlines worldwide, has shown that the comet might have been starting to come apart as early as the second week of June.
Saturday: October 28, 2000  1230 GMT
Some new planets might be stars, researchers say
More than half of the recently detected extrasolar planets appear not to be planetary objects at all, according to a preliminary astrometric study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory.
Stellar birth seen in a dark cloud
A remarkable, wide-field infrared image allows to see in unprecedented detail the inner regions of RCW 108, a large complex of stars and nebulae in the southern Milky Way. It is one of the widest, "deepest" and most spectacular infrared astronomical images ever obtained of a starforming region.
Double asteroid and a new asteroid moon are imaged
An international team of astronomers have released the first-ever images of a large, double asteroid. Each asteroid in the pair is the size of a large city. They also released a picture of a small moon orbiting the large asteroid Pulcova.
Winds ground Ariane 4
Today's scheduled launch of the 100th Ariane 4 rocket has been postponed 24 hours due to unacceptable upper altitude winds. Liftoff is reset for Sunday during a window of 0559-0759 GMT.
Friday: October 27, 2000  0415 GMT
NASA sets Mars exploration for next two decades
By means of orbiters, landers, rovers and sample return missions, NASA's revamped campaign to explore Mars, announced Thursday, is poised to unravel the secrets of the Red Planet 's past environments, the history of its rocks, the many roles of water and, possibly, evidence of past or present life.
Mars rover
Strange shapes on the sizzling world of volcanic Io
The volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io are like exotic dishes: they're hot, spicy, and have unfamiliar ingredients, according to new data from NASA's Galileo spacecraft. The probe has found extremely high temperatures inside the volcanoes, which are more abundant than previously believed and contain surprising substances.
Galileo sees ammonia ice cloud on Jupiter
An unusually pure cloud of young, fresh ammonia ice has been found on Jupiter by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, the first discrete cloud of ammonia ice ever seen, though the planet is known to contain ammonia gas.
NEAR Shoemaker zooms over asteroid successfully
Wrapping up a busy day that included a historic low pass over asteroid Eros, the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft fired its thrusters one more time and headed for a higher orbit on Thursday afternoon.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
100th Ariane 4 rocket to launch Saturday -- An Ariane 4 rocket it awaiting an early morning blastoff on Saturday to embark on the 100th flight of the venerable European vehicle that has dominated the commercial satellite launch market.

Former military satellite now tracking lost space objects -- A satellite that previously tracked incoming ballistic missiles is now using its MIT-built optical sensor to survey deep space. It has found or recovered more than 100 objects that were lost or getting lost, and has reduced the number of lost satellites in key orbits from 63 to 13.
Thursday: October 26, 2000  0433 GMT
Four new moons found orbiting Saturn
An international team of eight astronomers has discovered four new outer moons of Saturn orbiting more than 9 million miles from the surface of the giant planet. The find gives Saturn a total of 22 known moons, surpassing the 21 orbiting Uranus.
Hubble views mammoth cosmic collision of galaxies
A spectacular new image from the Hubble Space Telescope of the group of galaxies called Stephan's Quintet provides a detailed view of one of the most exciting star forming regions in the local Universe. It is a group of five galaxies in a violent encounter about 270 million light-years away.
Stephan's Quintet
NEAR Shoemaker closes in for unique view of asteroid
Early today, after more than eight months in orbit around asteroid Eros, the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft will swoop to within three miles of the asteroid, taking images and collecting data from a distance closer than any spacecraft has ever come to an asteroid.
NEAR Shoemaker
Revealing Neptune's icy atmosphere, Uranus' rings
Astronomers observing with the Keck II Telescope have obtained the best pictures yet of the planet Neptune, showing an upper atmosphere rich with moving features such as vortices, waves and narrowly spaced bands of clouds similar to those present around Jupiter. The team also made the first ground-based detection of the faint rings around Uranus.
Wednesday: October 25, 2000  0001 GMT
Discovery's homecoming takes detour to California
Running two days late, the Discovery astronauts glided to a picture-perfect Mojave Desert touchdown Tuesday, finally closing out a marathon space station assembly flight that clears the way for launch of the lab's first full-time crew in just one week.

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Collision of gigantic storms seen on Jupiter
For the first time, scientists have been able to watch the process of two of Jupiter's giant "white oval" storms, each about half the size of Earth, colliding and merging to form an even bigger storm.
XMM-Newton examines the Coma cluster of galaxies
Galaxies in the Universe are often to be found in clusters. Our own Milky Way is a member of a small cluster of galaxies, the Local Group. But clusters also exist that contain thousands of galaxies. XMM-Newton has obtained a remarkably vivid mosaic of one of the most famous of these, the Coma cluster.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Twin engine tests for X-33 take shape in Mississippi -- Two unique engines designed to propel America's X-33 into high-speed, suborbital flight in 2003 have been mounted side by side in a Mississippi test stand for qualification firings, now slated for later this year.
Tuesday: October 24, 2000  0527 GMT
Bad weather on both U.S. coasts keeps Discovery aloft
For the second day running bad weather has forced space shuttle Discovery to remain in orbit. High crosswinds at Kennedy Space Center and low clouds and rain at the backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in California kept Discovery from returning to Earth. NASA will try again this afternoon.
Saturn-bound Cassini probe snaps new views of Jupiter
Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot, a storm as wide as two Earths and more than 300 years old, was captured in a new color image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft as it passes the planet enroute to Saturn. Other views show Jupiter in different wavelengths.
Future remains foggy for Russia's Mir space station
The back-and-forth struggle between the Russian government and MirCorp over the future of the space station Mir heated up once again on Monday when a high-ranking government official made comments suggesting that time was running out for the aging outpost only to have the Holland-based firm refute the notion.
Beal ceases work to build commercial rocket
Beal Aerospace Technologies is shutting down the quest to build a completely private medium to heavy-lift rocket to launch commercial satellites into orbit, the company announced Monday.
Monday: October 23, 2000  1335 GMT
Discovery's landing diverted to California
After persistent crosswinds at Kennedy Space Center forced to NASA to give up trying to bring Discovery home at the Florida spaceport today, Mission Control is now battling bad weather at the backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Wind sock
Space telescope examines a cataclysmic variable
Ominously-named "Cataclysmic Variables" are not the kind of solar systems one would like to approach. End points of stellar evolution, they are binary systems in which one star is sucking material out of its partner. XMM-Newton has been observing one such cataclysmic variable, named OY Car.
Saturn's moon Titan has Earth-like clouds
A Northern Arizona University astronomer, and her colleagues, recently discovered daily clouds in the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. This discovery adds to the growing body of evidence that Titan uniquely resembles Earth with clouds, rain and seas.

Hubble poster
The Hubble Space Telescope's majestic view of the Eskimo Nebula. This spectacular poster is available now from the Astronomy Now Store.

Earlier news
Oct. 16-22: Space station construction mission successful; Gigantic gamma-ray burst breaks all distance records; New light shed on Milky Way's elusive center; Atlas, Proton and Sea Launch rocket missions.

Oct. 9-15: Astronauts lend hand building space station; Dust disk found around a nearby star and planet; Hubble finds a tantalizing veil from exploded star; Pegasus rocket launches NASA science probe.

Oct. 2-8: Lonely giant planets seen 1,000 light years away; 100th shuttle launch delayed; Data relay glitch threatens mission to Saturn moon; Future of Mir uncertain; Proton and Ariane 4 launches.

Sept. 25-Oct. 1: First images from new observatories; Fountains of fire on the Sun; Top 10 images from commercial eye-in-the-sky; Agreement on new X-33 plan.

Sept. 18-24: Hubble movies; Atlantis lands safely; Global weather satellite launched; Mystery of asteroid Eros; X-ray telescope to provide virtual journey to black hole.

More news  See our weekly archive of space news.

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