Status Report

Space Science News from NASA HQ 22 August 2000

By SpaceRef Editor
August 22, 2000
Filed under

What’s new lately at :


Our Chandra X-ray Observatory, “the Hubble of x-rays”, has completed its
first year in orbit. A press release summarizing some of Chandra’s most
notable scientific findings so far is at

Just recently, Chandra has shown that the two merging Antennae Galaxies are
producing massive bubbles of expanding X-ray-emitting gas at astonishing
rates, surprising astronomers with their numbers and X-ray luminosity.
This should increase our understanding of galaxy mergers and evolution.
Good story and neat pic at

Chandra home:

Space Science missions:


Our Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS) has provided a map of the
distribution of water in interstellar space that is presenting a puzzle to
our understanding of the chemistry of interstellar clouds. Why is water
10,000 times more plentiful in interstellar clouds that are heated to
thousands of degrees, than it is in areas with a temperature only slightly
above absolute zero?

press release:



The International Astronomical Union has sounded a global wake-up call
about the loss of the night skies and the needless waste of energy and
money due to poor quality lighting. This is an issue where easy, win-win
solutions are available. Good outdoor lighting is cheaper, pollutes less,
improves security, and saves the beauty of the night sky for everyone, not
just professional astronomers.

IAU press release:

International Dark-Sky Association:


A suggestion has been made that Saturn’s moon Titan may have mountains made
of methane ice. We may find out in 2004, when our Cassini spacecraft gets
to Saturn and drops a probe on Titan.

methane ice:



Scientists have released a preview of the demise of our own solar system: a
time-lapse movie of radio-telescope images showing a star, similar to our
sun, ejecting gas during a late stage of its life. Cool!


The ion propulsion engine on Deep Space 1 has now accumulated more
operating time in space than any other propulsion system in the history of
the space program. It continues to thrust towards a rendezvous with Comet




Astronomers have identified what is believed to be the youngest massive
star cluster yet detected in the Milky Way Galaxy. Less than a million
years old — practically a baby! — with about 100 very hot Type O stars.


Astronomers have found the youngest pulsar yet, a hot, spinning,
highly-magnetized infant no larger than Manhattan, born in a massive star
explosion about 700 years ago. The pulsar possesses unusual properties that
may force scientists to reconsider how pulsars are created and evolve.


Finally, the Web Site of the Week: from October 9-13, the Yohkoh Public
Outreach Project (YPOP) is hosting a week of online games and activities
centered on learning about the Sun. The target for these activities is
girls in Grades 6-8 using women solar scientists as role models, but just
about anyone will find the activities of interest. Check it out and
register for Solar Week 2000 at


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Space Science home:

SpaceRef staff editor.