Earth from Space: image of the week

A large part of Brazil’s Amazon Basin is shown here. The area is a low-lying valley almost entirely covered by tropical rainforest, criss-crossed by rivers including the mighty Amazon itself.
At first glimpse there appears to be no trace of mankind in this image, but a careful look reveals settlements and roads extending from top to bottom along the right hand side.

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The families of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s crew today accepted the Congressional Space Medal of Honor from NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe. The honors, presented in the name of Congress and on behalf of President George W. Bush, were made during a private ceremony with the families of the seven astronauts in Washington.
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ISS Joint Statement

The space agency leaders from the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada met at the ESA Technical Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, on July 23, 2004, to discuss International Space Station (ISS) cooperation activities. At this meeting, the ISS Partnership unanimously endorsed the ISS technical configuration and reviewed the status of ISS on-orbit operations and plans. The new ISS configuration is planned for completion by the end of the decade and will accommodate on-orbit elements from each of the ISS Partners. The configuration will enable increased utilization and will provide early opportunities for an enhanced crew of greater than three people.
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Scientists using measurements from NASA’s Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite have discovered that Venus and sunspots have something in common: they both block some of the sun’s energy going to Earth.

Using data from NASA’s SORCE satellite, scientists noticed that, when Venus came between the Earth and the sun on June 8, the other planet reduced the amount of sunlight reaching Earth by 0.1 percent. This Venus transit occurs when, from an earthly perspective, Venus crosses in front of the sun. When it happens, once every 122 years, there are two transits eight years apart. The next crossing happens in 2012 and will be visible to people on the U.S. West Coast.
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NASA Television will improve coverage to viewers in Alaska and Hawaii as well as the continental United States when it switches its signal from one satellite to two different ones.

Beginning July 24, NASA Television will be seen in the continental United States on AMC-6, at 72 degrees west longitude, Transponder 9, 3880 MHz, vertical polarization, audio at 6.8 MHz. If you live in Alaska or Hawaii, NASA TV will now be seen on AMC-7, at 137 degrees west longitude, Transponder 18, at 4060 MHz, vertical polarization, audio at 6.8 MHz.

NASA Television will no longer broadcast from its present satellite, AMC-9, after July 24.

This satellite change is not associated with NASA Television’s transformation to a digital format, scheduled for sometime in the next twelve months.

AMSAT “Echo” Satellite to Open

AMSAT-NA’s new “Echo” satellite (AO-51) will be turned on for general use in FM repeat mode Friday, July 30, at about 0215z, for a trial period of about three weeks. During that time, command stations on Earth will monitor AO-51’s power budget and adjust the UHF Transmitter B (TX B) power as needed for good battery management. They’ll also be watching the AMSAT Bulletin Board e-mail reflector,, for reports of how Echo is working.
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The International Space Station’s Expedition 9 crewmembers are now past the halfway point of their six-month mission. This week, they prepared for a third spacewalk and joined the world in observing the 35th anniversary of the first landing of humans on the moon.

July 19 was the midpoint of the flight for ISS Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Mike Fincke, who launched Apr. 19 and are targeted to return Oct. 19. On Monday Fincke spoke with Charles Gibson of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning, America” about the birth of his daughter, Tarali, in June while he was in space. Fincke’s wife and children joined the discussion from Houston.
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Ship-sinking monster waves

Once dismissed as a nautical myth, freakish ocean waves that rise as tall as ten-storey apartment blocks have been accepted as a leading cause of large ship sinkings. Results from ESA’s ERS satellites helped establish the widespread existence of these ‘rogue’ waves and are now being used to study their origins.

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‘Jules Verne’ arrives at ESTEC

After a long and complicated journey by air, land and sea, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) christened Jules Verne arrived at ESTEC in Noordwijk on 15 July. Jules Verne is the first of seven European supply ships for the International Space Station. It will undergo extensive testing at ESTEC over the next six months.

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While rovers and orbiting spacecraft scour Mars searching for clues to its past, researchers have uncovered another piece of the red planet in the most inhospitable place on Earth — Antarctica.

The new specimen was found by a field party from the U.S. Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) on Dec. 15, 2003, on an ice field in the Miller Range of the Transantarctic Mountains, roughly 750 km (466 miles) from the South Pole. This 715.2-gram (1.6-pound) black rock, officially designated MIL 03346, was one of 1358 meteorites collected by ANSMET during the 2003-2004 austral summer.
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