Status Report

Space Science Update from NASA HQ

By SpaceRef Editor
June 20, 2000
Filed under

From: Craig Tupper (


Here’s what’s new in the last week or so at


The prospects for life in the Universe just got sweeter, with the first
discovery of a simple sugar molecule in space. The discovery of
glycolaldehyde in a giant cloud of gas and dust near the center of our own
Milky Way Galaxy makes it more likely that the chemical precursors to life
are formed before planets are even born.

A marginally related idea: if you have some high-school students interested
in radio astronomy, check out


At the explosive moment of their birth, neutron stars seem to be
accelerated to speeds of several hundred miles per second. The cause of the
acceleration is not well understood; now two possible mechanisms have been
proposed. Zoom!


NASA scientists have been “planting” wireless webs of small sensors in
gardens here on Earth in preparation for missions to help monitor
biological activity on planets.


Finally, here’s a little something that isn’t just about space science: A
1999 survey by the National Science Board on the public’s understanding of
science shows that while Americans’ confidence and interest in science and
technology is very high, their understanding of basic science facts and
principles remains quite low. Fascinating reading at ; the survey results can
be found in Chapter 8 of



SpaceRef staff editor.