Friday, November 14, 2008

Shuttle Eandeavour ready for launch

Space shuttle Endeavour is set to launch late Friday [early Saturday 0:54 GMT]. The mission, code named STS-126, will carry supplies to the International Space Station and replace crew members [NASA / BBC / CNN - video].

India was celebrating today after part of their lunar mission was successfully completed. A Lunar Impact Probe detached from the unmanned lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1 and made a hard landing on the lunar surface around 20:34 New Delhi time [15:04 a.m. ET]. CNN reported a discrepancy in time of 3 minutes. Space official Shiv Kumar said the 34 kilogram probe hit the lunar surface travelling at 1.6 km/sec, equivalent to 5,760 km/hr [3,579 mph]. Kumar said the probe transmitted sufficient signals to the mother craft before landing, but no more were expected after the impact [CNN / BBC].

There was also celebratory cheers from astronomers after the first images of planets outside the solar system were revealed. Paul Kalas of the University of California, Berkeley, led an international group that used the Hubble Space Telescope to image the region around a star called Formalhaut in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. Images gathered by the HST showed the two Jupiter sized bodies, the first ever time that planets have been photographed beyond the confines of the solar system. The team estimates that the planet, designated Fomalhaut b, is some 18 billion kilometres [11 billion miles] away from its star, and completes an orbit in about 870 years. It may also have a ring around it according to the scientists. The objects are a long way from Earth, estimated at around 25 light years [2.3651321 × 1014 km] - [BBC / CNN]

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