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The Cosmic Mirror
By Daniel Fischer, Germany
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The Sky in May 2008
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Third Red Spot appears on Jupiter, wind speed in Little Red Spot higher than in precursor storms: Keck, Berkeley, HST and JHU APL Releases, NwS, SC (earlier), IO9, SSt, CNNB, BdW, AI, KL. Solar CME imaged in high detail on April 9: CfA PR, S@N. 'Tornados' on Sun: Dsc.
Update # 315 of Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Phoenix happy on Mars / Asteroid day: 43 seconds! / Supernova observed during explosion

MRO has spotted Phoenix, parachute & heat shield on the surface in resolved color pics

Glitch on MRO's radio prevents Phoenix commanding, costing the mission one day / If not recoverable today, Odyssey can fully take over MRO's role / Phoenix' little-known microphone may be turned on after all

That was fast: The absolute position of Phoenix on Mars has already been determined with such precision that the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had to trouble at all to find the Phoenix lander and other EDL hardware on the ground. And we even have color pics, showing the lander as three blueisch disks, the parachute and backshell combination, some 300 meters away, and the heat shield together with a little dark crater it caused. The parachute/backshell complex has also been spotted in one low-res Phoenix image that was downlinked in the 2nd batch, as a bright white feature. (Another white "thing" on an image from the 1st batch has no corresponding HiRISE object and is probably a cosmic ray hit or some other imaging artefact.) The famous image of Phoenix on its parachute was taken 20 seconds after it opened: It shows the lander 20 km in front of 10-km crater Heimdall (the camera was looking at a slant angle as never before). Phoenix is now sitting, as planned, on the smooth an nearly rock-free ejecta blanket from the impact which formed that crater and according to ice content measurements by Mars Odyssey should have no problems reaching the ice just below the seemingly bone-dry desert landscape.

The 2nd batch of SSI images shows the area in front of Phoenix' robot arm where it can go digging - and again luck seems to have been with the mission: The arm should be able to reach both the center of a polygon and a trough between two (which was detected by 3D imaging). The landscape behind this area hasn't been imaged yet but from what has reached Earth so far (and what can be deduced from the HiRISE image showing Phoenix and its surroundings) it seems that the lander is surrounded by self-similar polygons which, surprisingly, are not 5 meters in size but significantly smaller. Phoenix has now a "buffet of opportunities" to select areas to dig, and there are hardly any rocks that would block its access. There had been a minor inconvenience with a bio-barrier blanket over the arm which hadn't retracted fully, but after one sol's heat, its spring mechanism has now moved it mostly out of the way. There has been a glitch in the mission, however, for which Phoenix is not responsible at all: The UHF radio on board MRO that is used to forward commands to the lander suffered a transient and turned itself off (everything else on MRO is fine). There was no time today to send the new commands to Phoenix via Mars Odyssey - which is already used for downloading data to Earth and could easily take over the commanding task as well.

Odyssey will be used for that tomorrow if the UHF radio cannot be revived later today. Without commanding Phoenix is right now running a "run-out sequence" of commands, but the glitch means that most operations will be delayed by one day. For example, it had been planned to touch soil first on sol 5...7 and deliver the first sample to TEGA on sol 9...11; add one day now. Also there will be no new pictures tonight. However, we have the first weather report: the temperature ranges from -30 to -80°C, the pressure is 8.5 mbars and the wind blows with 20 km/h from the Northeast. The "air" is also very clear as 250 m high hills 15 km away can be seen clearly in Phoenix images. The lander overshot the center of the final target ellipse by 22 km because of the late parachute opening (no word yet why that happened) - which actually brought it to within 7 km of the target point selected for TCM 5, well inside the 50 km wide "Green" valley, named so because its lack of big rocks meant 'green light' for landing. Finally a fun item: With Phoenix a little microphone has landed on Mars as part of the MARDI system that was never turned on. This microphone was never meant to work on the surface and was only built for EDL - but now there is a vague possibility that it may be activated after all some time this summer ...

Posted earlier at 14:30 UTC

Lots more images from the ground - and MRO's prize shot of Phoenix on its chute

With the excitement of EDL behind us - make sure you watch the gripping NASA clip Nerves & Joy! - and the actual science work with Phoenix' robot arm still in the future, this is the time of pictures. The greatest sensation is, of course, the achievement of MRO's HiRISE camera to capture Phoenix dangling at its parachute, in front of the polygon terrain - at a news conference yesterday the odds for success were given at only 20 to 40%. HiRISE is now in the process of hunting for Phoenix on the ground; the landing zone has been imaged before in great detail, and the position of the lander has been pinpointed to within 100 x 300 meters already. Its data rate via Odyssey to Earth has now been increased to 128 kbit/s, and a 2nd batch of images from its SSI camera (and also the robotic arm camera, looking into the still empty shovel) has arrived overnight (UTC). We see more rocks, more bright mysteries near the horizon (the heat shield?), the shadow of SSI on the ground and more technical details of Phoenix itself. Some of the latter have been mosaicked together but not the new landscape views: At the last news conference, Phoenix PI challenged the amateur community around the world to give it a try. His own team will present new panorama composites only at the daily press conferences at 18:00 UTC while all the raw images go on the web as soon as they are received.

Posted on May 26 at 04:50 UTC

"Exactly the place we want to be ... a scientist's dream"

That's how Peter Smith has characterizied the landscape that Phoenix has ended up in in a news conference in progress. Despite the fact that the parachute opened 6½ seconds late, all subsequent events came 5 s late, the touchdown 7 seconds, and the lander overshot the landing ellipse so much that its most likely location is right at the edge of the 99% ellipse (the reason for this - only - mishap during EDL will be studied in detail). There are polygons all the way to the horizon and no big rocks, perfect for digging (although no picture of the actual zone the arm can reach has been downlinked yet). While no ice outcrop is evident in any of the images seen yet (which only comprise a tiny fraction of all that Phoenix can see), Smith is certain: "I can guarantee that there's ice underground" and within reach of the arm. Today the MRO will try twice to take images od Phoenix on the surface - which is als clean as it could be: The images of the solar arrays show clean reflected sky, meaning that all dust kicked up during touchdown had settled when the arrays unfolded. New pictures coming down will be released immediately, Smith reiterated, but new mosaics will be shown at future press conferences; e.g. on Tuesday a color panorama can be expected. Digging may start in a week.

Posted on May 26 at 02:10 UTC

Exactly 2 hours after landing amazing pictures come in

It was 1:53 UTC when the first close-up images from the Martian arctic started to appear on screens at JPL (and apparently something had been seen in Tucson even earlier): one foot of Phoenix on the soil, more landscape and even horizon views than promised at this early time, plus lots of technical details of the lander. The polygone structures are clearly seen and, as expected, no mountains on the horizon and only small rocks. The lander details show the solar cells fully deployed (as already indicated by the positive charge of the batteries), the biobarrier deployed and the robitic arm in the correct position. Earlier it had been announced that Odyssey had come down at 68.22°N and 234.3° and that the parachute deployed 7 seconds late. The tilt of the lander is now given as 0.3°, and it's only 0.68° off in azimuth. Now Phoenix scientists can be seen on NASA TV discussing the images - a new amazing horizon view appeared at 2:07 UTC - projected to JPL's walls in a highly excited state ...

Posted on May 26 at 00:10 UTC

Touchdown!!! Phoenix arrives on Mars, broadcasting all the way down in "shock"ingly perfect EDL

We've made it! Without any apparent problems the Phoenix lander has made it to the surface of Mars at 23:53 UTC ERT, with all milestones of EDL 'broadcast' through the Mars Odyssey orbiter. The loss of X band and acquisition of UHF transmissions at the separation of cruise stage marked the beginning of 14 minutes of drama - and the descent through the atmosphere with all its complex steps went "right down the middle," as project manager Barry Goldstein said a few minutes ago on NASA TV: "I'm in shock", because "never even in rehearsal did it go that well". In the one minute on the surface before the radio was turned off, Phoenix told mission control that it has only 1/4 degree tilt, and the azimuth is practically perfect. Now there is no communication, as planned, while many systems are supposed to be deployed. Stay tuned for the next com session at 1:43 UTC!

Posted on May 25 at 20:00 UTC

First pictures from Mars on Earth at 2:00 ... 2:15 UTC?

All well on Phoenix, no more TCMs, all commands uplinked ...

The sky is clear in the landing zone in the Martian arctic, the Sun is shining and Phoenix is on the right trajectory: All commands have now been sent and the remaining two opportunites for trajectory correction maneuvers yesterday and today have been waived. Things have been very busy at JPL until 16:00 UTC, but now all mission controllers can do is wait for EDL to commence. There was a big debate yesterday whether a TCM was necessary to move the landing ellipse away from a rock pile: It's near the center of the 3-sigma ellipse, with a chance of 1:100 that Phoenix will hit it and a chance of 1:10 that if this happens something could go wrong. The decision fell against a TCM, and after further tracking confirmed that Phoenix was still on the right trajectory, today's TCM opportunity was waived as well. This was discussed at the final pre-landing news conference at 19:00 UTC today where one also could learn that
  • the Very Long Baseline Array radio telescopes are tracking the X band signal from the cruise stage right now but are too small to track the UHF carrier from Phoenix itself (that will be turned on after cruise stage separation; see story below for the timeline),

  • which will be tracked by the Green Bank Telescope. In a simulation the huge radio telescope saw one Mars Exploration Rover very strongly, but the geometry is less favorable now. Up until parachute deployment the signal should be o.k. but will fade from then onwards and may be lost before touchdown.

  • Mars Odyssey, however, will have clear reception and should have no trouble to record the telemetry modulated onto that carrier (which Green Bank cannot detect) - esp. when the telemetry rate shoots up for the time Phoenix is hanging from the parachute, is flying on its thrusters and sitting on the ground.

  • There is some tolerance in the Phoenix lander, e.g. in case of strong tilting - and even if the solar arrays don't deploy at all, some minimal mission is possible. Failing deployments can be tried again now, in contrast to EDL where 26 pyrotechnical firings plus the start-up of the 12 thrusters have to work.

  • The flight software has been tested in 2000(!) simulations, so there is very high confidence in it; it's the mechanical operations that could not be tested at all that leave everyone nervous.
In case some of the high data rate telemetry of the final minutes of descent doesn't reach Odyssey, it will be stored on board and be sent to Earth when Odyssey passes over the next time, 1½ hours later. Then also the first images, largely engineering but also some bits of landscape, should be downlinked and be available at Earth in the 2:00 ... 2:15 UTC time frame. "First images mean everything," says Phoenix PI Peter Smith: They will guide further activities. For example a 3D model of the surroundings of the lander has to be created in the following 2 ... 3 days before the - dumb - robot arm can be operated. Smith expects some small rocks that should look interesting, being shaped by strong erosional forces. And a dream come true would be a landing right at the edge of one of the 5-meter polygons that make up the target area.

Posted earlier

Phoenix approaching Mars: when we should learn what

In the best of all worlds, there will be nearly continuous stream of information from the Phoenix Mars lander to Earth during the critital last "seven minutes of terror" of its Entry, Descent & Land phase late on May 25 (UTC), until one minute after touchdown at 23:53 UTC. Since the failure of the Mars Polar Lander (see Update #160 and this article in German) it is mandatory for NASA planetary missions to broadcast their status during EDL. Some two hours after touchdown the first few images - mainly of the spacecraft itself but also with a bit of Martin landscape and soil - could already reach Earth. And around 12:00 UTC on May 26 a major download should come, with lots more images. Here is the nominal sequence of events, in Earth Received Time (i.e. when signals from the event would reach Earth after 15 minutes and 20 seconds) unless noted otherwise, based on this JPL advisory, this NASA advisory, this ESA Release, this and this timeline and news conferences on May 13 and 22:
  • Sunday, May 25, 04:46 UTC: Opportunity for a trajectory correction; may be waved
  • 15:46: Final opportunity for a trajectory correction
  • 19:00: News conference, carried by NASA TV
  • 22:00: Continuous NASA TV coverage begins
  • 22:30: NASA commentary begins during said coverage
  • (23:31: Entry into the atmosphere IN MARS TIME)
  • 23:36: Mars Express begins to listen for Phoenix
  • 23:28: Mars Odyssey, MRO and the Green Bank Telescope begin to listen to Phoenix signals, with Odyssey relaying them to Earth at 8 kb/s
  • (23:38: Touchdown IN MARS TIME)
  • 23:39: Cruise Stage Separation; Phoenix starts transmitting on UHF which is picked up by Mars Odyssey and forwarded immediately to DSN Goldstone carrier to enable Doppler measurements
  • 23:41: Phoenix is in the correct attitude for atmospheric entry
  • 23:44: Phoenix begins to broadcast data
  • 23:46: Entry into the atmosphere
  • 23:47-49: Likely plasma blackout
  • 23:49: Attempt by MRO to take an image of Phoenix (low chance of success)
  • 23:50: Parachute deployment, heat shield jettison, legs deployment; data rate of UHF downlink jumps to 32 kbit/s
  • 23:52: Radar on, spacecraft 'sees' own altitude for 1st time
  • 23:53: Backshield separation and landing (23:53:52±46 sec)
  • 23:54: Radio turned off (60 sec after landing), NASA broadcast pauses
  • Monday, May 26, 00:13 UTC: Solar arrays open
  • 00:28/40-1:14: Data replay from the MRO and (twice) Mars Express (not visible in realtime)
  • 01:30: NASA broadcast resumes
  • 01:43-2:02: Live data downlink from Phoenix via Mars Odyssey, could contain some pictures (which would show up on screens within 30 minutes of arrival)
  • 04:00: News conference; flight controllers get some rest then
  • 06:27-38: Mars Express will listen to signals from Phoenix during overflight
  • 08:40-57: Mars Express Phoenix data downlink from EDL for the 3rd time
  • 09:00-16: Mars Express Phoenix data downlink from overflight
  • 12:00: Larger data downlink via Odyssey, with more images likely
  • 18:00: News conference, also at the some time on the following few days
As Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith said at a May 22 news conference with respect to any images from the Martian surface: "You see them as soon as I see them", without any delay - and PIO people have told the CM that all incoming pictures will be put on the web and will not be withheld for the 18:00 UTC news conferences. But Smith would not promise anything for the 1:43 UTC downlink on Monday: While Phoenix is programmed to take images of its solar arrays, deployable structures and also a foot on the soil, these can only be transmitted if the bandwith between it and the Odyssey orbiter passing above is large enough. Otherwise they will probably be included in the big downlink beginning at noon UTC. As of May 22, everything was perfect on board Phoenix, still sitting in a kind of cocoon (i.e. being pampered by the cruise stage). Three days later, the hope is, a nice butterfly will spread its wings in the Martian arctic, ready to dig for ice underneath the soil. Smith cautions, though, that it could take until the end of (Earth) summer until Phoenix' arm actually gets down to it, and the real science of the mission can begin.
NASA, LPL and JPL Phoenix front pages.
Blogs etc. by NASA and LPL themselves, Spaceflight Now, MarsLive and Twitter. Also blogging the mission are eg. Nature, Fla. Today, a congressman in mission control(!), SpacEurope, Wired, CNN, TPS and - in German - WDR.
NASA TV via NASA (large and small) and an alternate server.

The Images from the lander! Full collection at LPL, individual images and mosaics.
JPL/NASA Releases of May 27 (earlier [JPL]), May 26 [JPL], May 25 [JPL] (earlier [NASA, JPL], still earlier, even earlier), May 24 and May 22 [JPL].
UA Releases of May 27, May 26, May 25 (earlier), May 24, May 22 and May 20.
ESA Releases of May 26 (earlier), May 22 and May 20.
MPS PM vom 23. Mai, DLR PM vom 23. Mai, U of Alb. PR of May 26, UT Dallas PR of May 23, THEMIS PR of ca. May 22, UCF PR of May 22, WUStL PR of May 21, MPG PM vom 21. Mai, TPS Release of May 22, LockMart PRs of May 25 and May 23, Aerojet PR of May 20, Earth Observatory of May 27 and S@N of May 25.
Archived pictures #107... 10, 08, 07, 06, 05, 03, 02, 01 and 00 and 106... 99, 98, 97, 93, 91, 90, 89, 88, 87, 86, 85, 84, 83, 82, 81, 80, 79, 77, 76 and 72.

Coverage of May 27: SN, AB, AD, NwS (earlier; B), SpR, AB, S&T (earlier), PS (B, earlier, still earlier; video chat), Amateur Photographer, Tor.*, BBC, PW, NYT, USAT, Times (OpEd), SFG, LAT, BG, PW, CS, KSJ, SkM, NW, CL, NaB (other blog), CLU, CNNB, SCB, BAB (earlier), UT (earlier), ST, APOD, BdW, AI, W, DPA.
May 26: SN (earlier), AB (more), MSNBC, ScN, NwS, PS (B, earlier, still earlier, even earlier), NG, BBC, SC (B), SFG (earlier), NPR, USAT, TIME, DP, Times, SC, ABC (B), Her, HC, KSJ, NaB (NaB), SB, BAB (YouTube), AstB, AP, Sp., W, WL. May 25/26 (first pictures, pre-news conference): Culberson cellphone video from inside mission control, LPL Blog, S&T, WiB, NwS, LAT, G, AFP, NW, SkM, PSB (images & early processings in previous postings back to 1454), TAB, Apr, UT, BAB, ST, AI.
May 25/26 (post-landing, pre-pictures): Culberson video during EDL (touchdown at 17:35; more interviews here and here), SN, WP, NYT, ABC, Ast., AZ Rep., RMN, WFAA, PS, G&M, CanWest, WP, AW&ST, ZDNet, Telegr., NG, Ind., SFG, G, MSNBC, NwS, SC, WiB, CNN (B), PSB ('live'), UT, BAB.

Pre-landing coverage of May 25/26: SN, NwS (earlier), SFG, CNET, HC, VS, Times, BG, TS, NYT, Scotsman, WOFL, LAT (OpEd), SC (B), NwJ, CNN, FT (B), PSB (earlier, still earlier), NaB (earlier), WiB, TAB, SpP, ST, DPA, AI, WDR. May 24: SN, HC (more, OpEd), SFG, Times, STL, SC (earlier; B), NPR, HRDP, AFP, PSB, NaB (earlier), CNNB, CD, UT, KL. May 23: AW&ST, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, NwS, The West, ABC, NG, MSNBC, ABC (B), SC (B), AnnArbN, Dsc., Ottawa Cit., Reg., Wired, CBS4, CompW, FT, APr, CL, PSB (earlier), BAB, NaB, SE, UT, CS, ST, WAZ, DPA, W, BdW. May 22: SN, PSB (video chat), SC (earlier), TIME, Valley Sun, SETI [SC], KMSB, VoA, KVOA, Yorks., G&M, USAT, PBS, SFG. May 21: KSJ, SC, G, PSB, CNNB, MSNBC, DPA. May 20: PSB (earlier), NYT, Dsc., SC. May 19: AW&ST, AB, KSJ, BBC, WP, FT (more), RMN, SC (B), PSB (radio), NW. May 18: HC, G.

MER ASU Release of May 22 and coverage of May 24: ST. May 22: S&T, ScN, SC. May 19: APOD.
Flash flood analogy Earth/Mars? NwS, SC. Tough microbes (on Earth): AB.

Saturn Update

CICLOPS PR of May 20, DLR PM vom 20. Mai, pictures # 106... 55, 54, 99... 10, 09, 08, 07, 06, 05 and 04, 84... 13 and coverage of May 26: SB. May 20: PC, BAB.

Launch of GLAST observatory set for June 3

Launch of NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST, is targeted for Tuesday, June 3, from Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station: NASA Release, NwS, SC. Earlier: S@N, GSFC PR, BBC, TAB.
Two more CoRoT planets confirmed (but there are dozens more candidates): ESA Release, DLR PM, CD. ESA exoplanet roadmap: PR.

Gravity Probe B scores 'F' in NASA review

A NASA review appears to spell the end for Gravity Probe B, the project conceived in the 1960s to measure how the Earth warps the fabric of nearby space-time: SB, PW, NwS, NAB, NW.
Indian lunar lauch slips to fall - ISRO now plans to launch its first unmanned moon mission, Chandrayan-I, between October and December: IANS.

Fastest natural rotator in the solar system: one day = 43 seconds!

As reported in Electronic Telegram No. 1382 of the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams on May 22, photometric "observations of minor planet 2008 HJ obtained using the 2.0-m Faulkes Telescope South during Apr. 28-29, reveal that this Apollo-type object has the shortest known rotation period of any natural body in the solar system at 42.67±0.04 s. It exhibits a light urve comprised of two similar maxima and minima with an amplitude of 0.8 mag. [...] 2008 HJ has presumed approximate dimensions 12 x 24 m. The fastest previously known rotator was 2000 DO8, which has a rotation period of 78 s".
First reported by C4U w/a few links - much later came an STFC Release.

Science probe kills 'space pistols'

A pair of 200-year-old American duelling pistols, said to have been forged from the iron of a fallen meteorite, definitely isn't: BBC.

Supernova observed in the act of exploding

Earlier this year, for the first time a star has been caught in the act of exploding. Astronomers have previously observed thousands of stellar explosions, known as supernovae, but they have always seen them after the fireworks were well underway. A typical (type II or Ib or c) supernova occurs when the core of a massive star runs out of nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravity to form an ultradense object known as a neutron star. The newborn neutron star compresses and then rebounds, triggering a shock wave that plows through the star's gaseous outer layers and blows the star to smithereens (or so a still ill-defined popular model goes). Astronomers had thought for nearly four decades that this shock "break-out" will produce bright X-ray emission lasting a few minutes.

But until the events this year, astronomers had never observed this signal. Instead, they have observed supernovae brightening days or weeks later, when the expanding shell of debris is energized by the decay of radioactive elements forged in the explosion. The observations of the first shock breakout can be attributed to luck and the unique design of the Swift s/c. This January 9, 2008 the satellites was used to observe supernova SN 2007uy in the spiral galaxy NGC 2770, located 90 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Lynx. At 9:33 a.m. EST an extremely bright 5-minute X-ray outburst in NGC 2770 was seen, coming from another location in the same galaxy: The energy and pattern of the X-ray outburst is consistent with a shock wave bursting through the surface of the progenitor star. This marks the birth of supernova SN 2008D, since followed in all wavelengths.

The Nature paper as a preprint, GSFC, Princeton, NASA, Gemini, U. Wisc., NRAO, STFC and PSU Releases - and other papers by Modjaz et al. (with a Berkeley Release; very thick), Li (who doesn't buy the shock breakout interpretation!) and Fan et al..
Coverage by PW, S&T, NG, BBC, NYT, Times, NPR, LAT, NwS, NJ, SC, AD, IO9, BAB, PrA, SSr, AT, SWr, SkM, BdW, W, AI - and Science News and KSJ, breaking the clear embargo already in March (but who's reading them anyway? :-). And now they are even proud of their 'achievement' ...

Chronology of record-setting GRB

Researchers had particular good fortune in observing the March 13 burst: ScN. AXP mysteries: BdW. SN in M 42? BdW.

ISS etc. Update

May 31 is confirmed as the next STS launch date - and the HST SM has been shifted to Oct. 8 (and Atlantis will keep flying afterwards). ASU PR of May 21, House Science PR of May 20, NASA Releases of May 22 and May 19 and coverage of May 27: NYT, SC (other story). May 26: SpP. May 25: TP. May 22: AD, AFP, CNN, ST, W. May 21: Nov., NwS, S&T, IO9, SCB, W. May 20: HC, DscB, SpP, ST. May 19: SN, SC (other, earlier story), SpR.

Huge flare on harmless star

A tiny star recently unleashed what is considered the brightest burst of light ever seen in the universe from a normal star: C4U, UMD and PSU Releases, S&T, NwS, SC, ABCB, CNNB, BAB.

Dust ring around dying star studied with VLTI: ESO PR, MPIfR PM. Search for orphan stars strewn throughout the nearby Virgo cluster: Case Western PR.

New measurements reveal slimmer Milky Way

The lower mass is based on data from SEGUE, an enormous survey of stars in the Milky Way: paper by Xue & al., SDSS Press Release, MPIA PM, SC, AI.

Hubble Survey Finds Missing Matter, Probes Intergalactic Web: HST and U. Colorado Releases, SC.

  • Color trends among Pluto's moons and what they mean: arXiv Blog.
  • The arrow of time in cosmology: ScAm. Dark energy linked to supervoids and superclusters: arXiv Blog. Dark energy 'imaged' in best detail yet: NwS. New tests of the Copernican Principle proposed: PW.
  • Russian rocket launches four satellites - 3 were Gonets spacecraft that provide data relay services for the Russian military; the rocket also placed into orbit a small satellite to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Sputnik: SN, ST.


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