Another giant solar explosion

Since Tuesday 28 October, explosive events originating from the Sun have been bathing the Earth and its surroundings in high energy radiation. Although 150 million kilometers away, the Sun is still capable of causing major disruption here on Earth to a range of systems that we depend on in everyday life. These include communication and navigation systems, aircraft and spacecraft operations and the distribution of electricity at high latitudes.
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NASA is adapting tiny laboratories embedded in compact discs (CDs) to conduct biological tests aboard the International Space Station and to eventually look for life on other planets.

The CDs, with imbedded biological tests, are under evaluation by NASA scientists, and several academic and industrial partners. The miniature laboratories were adapted to detect life forms and chemicals derived from life. NASA’s partners are Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.; Nanogen, Inc., La Jolla, Calif.; and the University of California, Irvine, Calif.
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Enormous X-ray solar flare seen by SOHO

The third most powerful solar X-ray flare on record, a remarkable X17.2 category explosion, erupted from sunspot 10486 on Tuesday, 28 October 2003. This is the second largest X-ray flare ever seen by the ESA/NASA SOHO spacecraft, after the major X20 solar flare of April 2001. Regular observations of X-ray flares began in the 1970s.

More information at:


The wildfires ravaging southern California are even impressive from 240 miles above the Earth. NASA astronaut Ed Lu took still photographs of the fires through the windows of the International Space Station Sunday.

The photos are available on the Internet at:

The fires in the San Bernadino Mountains were burning out of control at 2 p.m. EST Oct. 26, when Lu snapped the images. Astronauts aboard the Station take hundreds of photos of Earth during their stay on the orbiting research complex.

NASA satellite images of the California wildfires are also available at:

Information about Earth photos taken by astronauts throughout the history of space flight is available on the Internet at:


Volumes II-VI of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report are available on-line. These volumes contain appendices and additional information that provide the supporting documentation for the main text of Volume I, which was released on August 26.

The CAIB said in its Oct. 24 press statement that other conclusions and proposed recommendations drawn in Vols. II-VI does not necessarily reflect the views of the CAIB but are included for the record. When there is conflict, Vol. I takes precedence. It alone is the CAIB’s official statement.

Hard copies of Volumes I-VI are available through the Government Printing Office for a fee. Those copies can be ordered from the GPO’s Web site:

The full report is available on the Internet at:

Lost in space

In a tidy house or office with a clean floor you can see immediately if someone has dropped something, a glasses case, for example. Lying on the floor, this object catches the eye, and everybody passing by will notice it. In the Space Station a number of factors make it very difficult to find something that is lost.

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Cervantes mission concludes with Soyuz TMA-2 landing

ESA astronaut Pedro Duque from Spain landed in the command module of the Soyuz TMA-2 spacecraft near the town of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan at 08:40 local time, 03:40 Central European Time (CET), this morning, thus concluding the successful 10-day Cervantes mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
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AMSAT-North America has announced that launch of the AMSAT OSCAR-E Amateur Radio microsat–the “Echo Project”–has been moved up to March 31, 2004. Earlier plans had called for a May 2004 launch. Echo Project Team member Richard Hambly, W2GPS, reported at AMSAT-NA’s Annual Meeting and Space Symposium October 18-19 in Toronto, Canada, that the Echo project has made significant progress in recent months.
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The new two-ham crew of Expedition 8 Commander and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and Russian Cosmonaut and ISS Flight Engineer Alexander “Sasha” Kaleri, U8MIR, officially took over the reins of the International Space Station this week. A formal change-of-command ceremony took place Friday, October 24.
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