A NASA study found some clouds that form on tiny haze particles are not cooling the Earth as much as previously thought. These findings have implications for the ability to predict changes in climate.

Andrew Ackerman, a scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and his colleagues found, when the air over clouds is dry, polluted clouds hold less water and reflect less solar energy. Ackerman is the study’s principal author.

Contrary to expectations, scientists observed polluted, low-lying clouds do not generally hold more water than cleaner clouds. Low clouds cool the planet by reflecting sunlight away from the Earth’s surface, and more water makes a cloud more reflective.
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In-Orbit Validation

The Galileo project is now well and truly taking shape, with today’s signing of a second contract concerning the In-Orbit Validation phase, following that signed in July 2003 for two test satellites.

The European Space Agency and Galileo Industries have signed a €150m contract, as a first stage towards signing an approximately €950m contract covering the overall IOV phase. “This marks a further step forward for Galileo”, says Giuseppe Viriglio, Director of EU and Industrial Programmes at the Agency. “In line with the recent EU Transport Council green light for final deployment of the constellation, ESA is securing the foundations for this unique satellite locating and positioning system.”
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The Expedition 10 crew is spending this week getting ready for the Christmas arrival of resupply spacecraft, while continuing research and maintenance activities aboard the International Space Station.

Commander Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov, a third of the way through their planned six-month mission, also put the Station’s 58-foot robotic arm through its paces. They installed cables and a switching unit for the docking system that will guide the European Space Agency-provided Automated Transfer Vehicle to docking when it makes its maiden voyage next year.
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The Space Shuttle fleet is housed and processed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla. The order the Space Shuttles are listed in this report does not necessarily reflect the chronological order of future missions.

Discovery (OV-103)

Technicians continue to perform orbiter powered-system testing on Discovery for its Return to Flight mission, designated STS-114, to the International Space Station. Final closeouts and seal installations continue on the Rudder Speed Brake.
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Fun for kids – big and small

Tired of reading technical reports, working on budgets or sitting in meetings? Have some fun with your kids this Christmas on the new ESA kids site. Here you will find puzzles, quizzes, animated comics, background info and more – in 5 languages. Not restricted to the under 12s!…visit :http://kids.esa.int

Ireland now part EGNOS

EGNOS is a satellite navigation network currently being implemented all over Europe. In 2005 this network will enable everyone with an EGNOS receiver to pinpoint a position far more accurately than with GPS. The inauguration on 17 December of the EGNOS facility in Ireland is a new step towards this achievement.

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A NASA-funded study provides direct measurements confirming aerosols, tiny particles in the atmosphere, may be changing how much carbon plants and ecosystems absorb from or release to the air.

The research is important for understanding climate change and the various factors that influence how much carbon gets transferred from the air into below ground carbon sinks. Carbon dioxide acts as a heat-trapping greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. The study appeared in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
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