The Cassini spacecraft, which began its tour of the Saturn system just over a month ago, has detected lightning and a new radiation belt at Saturn, and a glow around the planet’s largest moon, Titan.

The spacecraft’s radio and plasma wave science instrument detected radio waves generated by lightning. “We are detecting the same crackle and pop one hears when listening to an AM radio broadcast during a thunderstorm,” said Dr. Bill Kurth, deputy principal investigator on the radio and plasma wave instrument, University of Iowa, Iowa City. “These storms are dramatically different than those observed 20 years ago.”
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Activation of the Aura spacecraft, launched July 15, is continuing, with the mission going very well so far.

Just over an hour after launch, the spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle. This was followed shortly by solar array deployment and transition to Sun Point Mode (SPM). The next day, the spacecraft transitioned to Earth Point Mode, where it remained another day before transitioning to Fine Point Mode, the normal operating mode. S-band communications with the Space Network (SN) began immediately, followed by routine Ground Network (GN) contacts. X-band playbacks from the Solid State Recorder to the GN are now ongoing as well.
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In a new study, NASA and United States Geological Survey (USGS) scientists found that retreating glaciers in southern Alaska may be opening the way for future earthquakes.

The study examined the likelihood of increased earthquake activity in southern Alaska as a result of rapidly melting glaciers. As glaciers melt they lighten the load on the Earth’s crust. Tectonic plates, that are mobile pieces of the Earth’s crust, can then move more freely. The study appears in the July issue of the Journal of Global and Planetary Change.
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Teachers Go Back to School-Space School

Longueuil, Quebec, August 3, 2004 – Over 120 elementary, secondary and post-secondary school teachers from across Canada will be attending midsummer classes during the third annual Space Educators’ Training Event. It will be held at the John H. Chapman Space Centre of the Canadian Space Agency in Longueuil.

This event aims to help teachers foster their students’ interest in the sciences by focusing on the theme of space. For three days, participants will have the opportunity to discuss astronomy, microgravity, human presence in space, satellite telecommunications, and other topics with space program experts.
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Two spacewalkers began rolling out the welcome mat for a new cargo vehicle this morning. International Space Station Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke spent 4½ hours outside the Station, swapping out experiments and installing hardware associated with Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), scheduled to launch on its maiden voyage to the Station 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)

On Tuesday, Discovery completed its last major power-down period. It was powered up in preparation for its Return to Flight mission to the International Space Center.
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ESA is looking for female volunteers

In preparation for a 60-day Female Bed-Rest Study, which starts in January/February 2005, an official call for candidates to participate as test subjects has been issued.

The Bed-Rest Study will need 24 female candidates who will remain in bed, slightly tilted head down at six degrees below horizontal, for a total of 60 days, to simulate the physiological effects of an extended period in weightlessness as experienced by astronauts. Within the framework of various research protocols, the study will assess the role of nutrition and physical exercise in countering the adverse effects of long-duration weightlessness on female astronauts.
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