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It's the Astronomy Online non-Blog, or un-Blog.

Everyone has a blog now and since I am no follower of trends, I decided to merge the blog with the website. And I don't want to neglect the website in favor of posting on the blog.

These are the pages that were on the blog of old:

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What's NASA Up To?:

So what is around the corner for space exploration? What plans does NASA have? I was curious so I searched about - not just with NASA, but with the European, Japanese and Chinese Space Agencies.

The Chinese Space Agency was easy to find information for, or rather the lack of. Their website is most likely purposefully cryptic and lacking in any future details.

NASA has the lead for future plans, with previously cancelled missions back on the boards. Most exciting for me, because I have an interest in exoplanets, is the formerly cancelled Kepler Mision. Schedules for launch in 2009, the Kepler space telescope will be the largest so far at 0.95 meters (mirror diameter). The telescope will stare at a single field betweeen the star Vega (in Lyra) and Cygnus measuring the brightness of 100,000 G, K and M-class stars. The goal is to measure the brightness changes of an Earth sized body transiting the host star.

Other missions:

  • Dawn, launched on September 27, 2007 will visit the largest asteroids in our asteroid belt
  • Phoenix will launch next year for a visit to Mars in the search for water.
  • In keeping with the Mars theme, the Mars Science Laboratory is in the design stages.
  • The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will visit the Moon (obviously) to prepare for future human exploration.
  • Finally, the NuSTAR Mission is in the preliminary design stages that will look for Black Holes.

The ESA (European Space Agency) is in a quiet stage of mission planning with only the BepiColumbo probe in the design stages. With a launch in August 2013, this probe will visit the planet Mercury and will study how a planet evolved close to its parent star.

The Japanese are busy with a few projects as well:

  • SELENE, Japan's first visit to the moon with any spacecraft, was launched on September 14, 2007.
  • Solar-B launched on September 21, 2006 for study of our Sun.
  • Planet-C is in the design stages for a visit to Venus.

That is all for now. If any new missions creep up I'll post the information here.

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