A NASA spacecraft designed to test two important predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity is set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 1:09 p.m. EDT, April 17.

NASA’s Gravity Probe B mission, also known as GP-B, will use four ultra-precise gyroscopes, orbiting the Earth in a unique satellite, to experimentally test two extraordinary predictions of Einstein’s 1916 theory that space and time are distorted by the presence of massive objects. The two effects being tested are: The geodetic effect, the amount by which the Earth warps local spacetime in which it resides, and the frame-dragging effect, the amount by which the Earth drags local spacetime around with it as it rotates.
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First call for AMSAT-NA Symposium papers

AMSAT-NA has issued its first call for papers for presentation during the 2004 AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual Meeting this fall.

The gathering will be held October 8-10 in Arlington, Virginia, in conjunction with the ARISS International meeting, October 10-13. Proposals for papers, symposium presentations, and poster presentations are invited on any topic of interest to amateur satellite enthusiasts.

This year’s focus is AMSAT’s educational outreach. In particular, AMSAT-NA seeks papers on these topics: Students and education, the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, Echo, Eagle and other satellite-related topics. One-page abstracts are due by June 1, and final papers (hard copy or electronic) are due by August 1 for inclusion in the printed symposium Proceedings. Send abstracts and papers to Daniel Schultz, N8FGV, 14612 Dowling Dr, Burtonsville, MD 20866 or via e-mail .

Craft to return first samples from deep space since Apollo

Since October 2001 NASA’s Genesis spacecraft has exposed specially designed, collector arrays of sapphire, silicon, gold and diamond to the sun’s solar wind.

That collection of pristine particles of the sun came to an end last week, when NASA’s Genesis team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., ordered the spacecraft’s collectors deactivated and stowed. The closeout process was completed when Genesis closed and sealed the spacecraft’s sample-return capsule.
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The Cabin Pressure Monitor developed by Jan Zysko received NASA’s Commercial and Government Invention of the Year Awards for 2003.

The Monitor, developed by Zysko, a NASA engineer, is patented by the agency. The device is a hand-held, portable, accurate, valuable, important, and life-saving instrument with many applications. The monitor was selected in both categories for its application and adaptability to both commercial and government uses.
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International Conference on Saturns moon Titan

In the week that sees the 375th anniversary of the birth of the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, an international conference entitled ‘Titan: From Discovery to Encounter’ is taking place, from 13 to 17 April, at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

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Ultrasound techniques developed by NASA to examine International Space Station crewmembers may soon find another use helping treat medical emergencies on Earth.

Non-physicians can readily learn the procedures which can provide an accurate diagnostic tool when coupled with Internet, telephone or wireless transmission of ultrasound images to remote experts. The technology was recently tested on members of the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League (NHL).
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