Sunday: April 8, 2001  0214 GMT
Martian odyssey begins with successful liftoff
NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft set sail for the Red Planet on Saturday, departing Earth aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket fitted with two video cameras that provided spectacular views of the thunderous blastoff.
Delta 2
DS1's ion propulsion engine keeps on firing
The innovative engine now propelling NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft toward its ambitious September encounter with Comet Borrelly just won't give up, having now run for more than 10,000 hours -- 50 times beyond its originally required lifetime.
Saturday: April 7, 2001  0440 GMT
NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey ready to depart Earth
A Boeing Delta 2 rocket is cleared for liftoff today to propel NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft on its interplanetary cruise to the Red Planet. All systems are "go" for blastoff at precisely 11:02:22 a.m. EDT (1502:22 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Mars Odyssey
Russian Proton M rocket successfully debuts
The long-delayed maiden flight of the Proton M rocket, the more advanced version of the Russian workhorse launcher, finally lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome today and placed a communications satellite into Earth orbit.
   FULL STORY [Updated]
Eleven new extrasolar planets discovered
An international team of astronomers have announced the discovery of 11 new planets orbiting other stars, including a pair locked in an orbital resonance and another with a very Earth-like orbit.
Planet art
New research discounts Mars ocean evidence
Features on the surface of Mars once interpreted as evidence of an ancient ocean may in fact have a completely different origin, planetary scientists reported this week. They said that features previously thought to be remains of ancient shorelines are more likely linked to the planet's volcanoes.
Friday: April 6, 2001  0532 GMT
Space shuttle Endeavour set for launch April 19
NASA officials on Thursday decided to keep Endeavour on track for blastoff April 19 as originally planned after the Russians agreed to delay the launch of a new Soyuz space station escape capsule to give the space shuttle more liftoff opportunities.

More mission coverage here:

Mars features said not to be ancient ocean shorelines
What scientists suspect might be ancient ocean shorelines on the northern plains of Mars is actually a network of tectonic ridges related to dramatic martian volcanism, according to a new report.
Hubble reveals the heart of the Whirlpool Galaxy
New images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope are helping researchers view in unprecedented detail the spiral arms and dust clouds of a nearby galaxy, which are the birth sites of massive and luminous stars.
Turning stars into gold
Normal stars cannot make enough of the heavy elements, such as gold and platinum. Thus the origin of gold and platinum - on Earth and throughout the Universe - is a mystery. But now a team of scientists has explored the idea that violent collisions of super-dense neutron stars could be the source.
Thursday: April 5, 2001  0355 GMT
NASA could launch next space shuttle a day early
NASA is considering the possibility of moving up space shuttle Endeavour's liftoff date by one day -- from April 19 to April 18 -- to provide three opportunities to get the shuttle airborne before a mandatory Russian launch to replace the space station's Soyuz lifeboat.
Congress grills NASA about space station cost overruns
NASA administrator Dan Goldin told members of Congress Wednesday that the space agency is still coming to terms with a $4 billion cost overrun on the International Space Station project and may look to its international partners to contribute key station components the U.S. was originally planning to build.
Next Martian adventure set to launch Saturday
Technicians were fueling the Boeing Delta 2 rocket's second stage Wednesday at Cape Canaveral's launch pad 17A in preparation for Saturday's mission to send the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft on its trek to the Red Planet. Read the latest on pre-launch preparations!
Pad 17A
X-ray pulsars may be ashes from burst of star formation
Astronomers have found two new X-ray pulsars spinning in the Small Magellanic Cloud, the Milky Way's neighbor. This brings drives home the fact that our neighboring galaxy has a much higher concentration of pulsars than we do, perhaps created during a burst of star formation a few million years ago when the two galaxies were at their closest.
Gamma-ray bursts come from star-forming regions?
New findings from two X-ray satellites suggest that gamma-ray bursts, some of the most intense blasts in the Universe, may be created in the same area where stars are born.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Station residents keeping busy despite Ku-band problem -- The resident crew of the International Space Station spent the last week conducting experiments and performing routine housekeeping chores and some maintenance work. The activation of the station's Ku-Band antenna remains on hold due to an apparent pointing error with the dish-shaped antenna.
Wednesday: April 4, 2001  0353 GMT
New evidence offered for planets without parent stars
A pair of British astronomers revealed new evidence Tuesday to support their controversial discovery of a group of "free-floating" planets in a distant nebula that do not orbit any star.
Planet art
Next Martian adventure set to launch Saturday
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft is bolted to its rocketship at Cape Canaveral for Saturday's scheduled blastoff on a 286-million mile journey to the Red Planet. Read the latest on pre-launch preparations!
Sun unleashes record flare, Earth safe from solar bullet
The Sun blasted one of its largest flares in 25 years from the same region harboring the largest sunspot of the current solar cycle Monday. The region has continued to rotate with the Sun and is no longer in line with the Earth, so most of the flare's energy was directed away from our planet.
Solar flare
Swiss cheese-like gas cloud holds clues to starquakes
By spinning ultra-cold sodium gas in a laboratory, NASA-funded scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge have created a gas cloud that resembles rounded Swiss cheese and is riddled with tiny whirlpools, like those that cause "starquakes" in space.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Next-generation gamma ray burst finder to fly on Delta 2 -- Boeing's Delta 2 rocket has been tapped to launch a NASA space observatory in 2003 that will seek out and study gamma ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the universe.
Tuesday: April 3, 2001  0445 GMT
Supernova found to confirm accelerating universe
The serendipitous discovery of a distant supernova has confirmed that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate because of the presence of a pervasive, mysterious "dark energy," astronomers reported Monday.
New probes: Self-inflating solar-heated balloons
In the continuous quest to find cost-effective methods to explore the planets, NASA engineers have risen to the occasion by developing a variety of new balloon methods inspired by centuries-old, solar-heated hot-air balloons, as well as by conventional helium light-gas balloons.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Galileo continues replay of Jovian moon data -- There are no engineering activities scheduled this week, so the spacecraft can concentrate on playing back the data stored on the on-board tape recorder during its December flyby of Ganymede.
Monday: April 2, 2001  0437 GMT
Observatory sees vistas in heart of Orion Nebula
A new astronomical instrument has been installed on the European Southern Observatory telescope at La Silla. It is well suited for studying the complex processes that take place in the innermost regions of star-forming clouds. Among the first images are some of the most penetrating, mid-infrared views ever obtained of the central region of the Orion Nebula.
Cold polar rings help form clouds that destroy ozone
Newly discovered, narrow rings of cold air over Earth's poles help form colorful clouds that destroy ozone, according to a new report. The ozone layer protects life on Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation that could cause skin cancer in humans and biological damage to living things.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Boeing and Alenia Spazio sign trading agreement -- Officials from Boeing and Alenia Spazio signed an agreement whereby Boeing will purchase fuel tanks from Alenia Spazio for the upper stage of the Boeing Delta 2 launch vehicle. Alenia Spazio has agreed to purchase Delta launch services for its satellite program.

Earlier news
March 26-April 1: A new Martian odyssey is about to begin; Alpha crew promises warm welcome for Tito; Iridium system completes its miracle resurrection; NASA and military continue search for Mars lander; Largest sunspot in 10 years blazes away; Two space probes see giant plumes on Io.

March 19-25: Mir dives into Pacific safely; NASA blocks Dennis Tito training; Discovery departs space station; Station pioneers back on Earth after historic voyage; First XM radio satellite launched; Blinking star explains mystery aboard Galileo.

March 12-18: Exchange of space station crew completed; Galileo gets final reprieve before crash into Jupiter; Volcanoes on Jovian moon Io try erasing their age; Volcanoes may have played role in Martian life; Deep X-rays show universe teeming with black holes.

March 5-11: Discovery launches to space station for crew exchange; Supermassive black hole found in nearby galaxy; Checking on an old and active cometary friend; Russia offers module, extra Soyuz capsule to partners; First Ariane 5 rocket of 2001.

More news  See our weekly archive of space news.

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