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+ 0 - 0 | § Titan's Methane Not Produced by Life, Scientists Say

"Titan has the ingredients for living organisms, ... but not in the right combinations."

+ 0 - 0 | § Europeans following up on Titan triumph

After Huygens, agency targets Venus, Mars and comet

+ 0 - 0 | § Project Pluto: The Flying Crowbar

This one's for Mr. Tutor: "At the dawn of the atomic age, scientists began work on what might have been the nastiest weapon ever conceived."

+ 0 - 0 | § Amazon founder unveils space center plans

Blue Origin to build Texas space base.

+ 0 - 0 | § Hubble Robot Repair Deal Given to Canadian Firm

A $154 million information contract has been issued.

31 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

Huntsville TimesOn this date:

+ 0 - 0 | § RTF Update

There are no major hurdles to NASA launching a space shuttle in May or June, a task force overseeing return-to-flight efforts said, while also expressing concern about crew members' ability to make repairs in orbit.
"There are no show-stoppers that we see out there," Richard Covey, co-chairman of the Return to Flight Task Group, said Friday.

And, in a related story:
Two years after Columbia's demise, excitement over the space shuttle fleet's return to the skies in just a few short months is finally overtaking the agony of the accident.
In the past few weeks, two special deliveries have boosted morale among shuttle workers and provided tangible evidence they are rounding the corner.

28 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Never Forget

Over the past 19 years, I have often marked the anniversary of the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger by writing a brief remembrance. Below are a few thoughts from this year.
The tone is a little different this time. More poignant pieces were written last year and the year before.


It's time to fly.

Today is the anniversary of the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger and her crew on January 28, 1986. Seventy-two seconds into its final mission.
This dark anniversary comes between two other dark days; the anniversary the day before of the Apollo I pad fire in 1967, the anniversary four days later of the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew during their return from the STS-107 mission in 2003. So much tragedy to be remembered in so short a time.

I've written remembrances many times over the years on the anniversary of the loss of Challenger, for me the greatest tragedy of my formative years, my generation's equivalent of the Kennedy assasination. A day that will stay with me forever; the moment I heard seared permanently into my brain.

But today it is the events of two years ago that are foremost on my mind. Not because of the hurt suffered that day, much different from that of 17 years earlier, more personal and no less intense. But, rather, because of the wounds that still endure.
Two years ago, though the scars of Challenger still remained for the world, the wounds were largely healed. More than three times as many Shuttle flights had been flown safely since 51-L as before. The agency was once again preparing to send a teacher into space.
But two years ago, those wounds were reopened. And two years later, there's still much healing to be done.

For two years, the remaining Shuttle fleet has been grounded. The powerful Solid Rocket Boosters have not roared into space; the Orbiters have not taken their rightful and proper place beyond the sky.
America has maintained a presence in space, an accomplishment worthy of note. Permanent human presence in space began in November 2000, and has been continued through one of NASA's most challenging periods. However, that presence has been limited, a fighting effort to overcome adversity; not the broader accomplishment that had been planned during better days.

But, now, it's time to move forward.
It's time to fly.

As sad an occassion as these anniversaries are, I am heartened by the knowledge that the situation will be different when I write this next year. The Shuttle fleet will be flying again, undertaking their most vital mission yet--completing the assembly of the International Space Station; moving toward an ending and a beginning. Their retirement looms, as does a new era of space exploration. Human beings are headed into the cosmos.

But, before that, the first step awaits. The Shuttles must launch again. Preparations are underway. The components have been brought together. The endstage is nigh.

It's time to fly.

+ 0 - 0 | § Heavy-Lift Boosters

F1 enginesThe Huntsville Times today has an article about the discussions as to what sort of launch vehicle will be used for human exploration missions, looking at the pros and cons of various options.

+ 0 - 0 | § Between The Stars

IBEXNASA has announced that it will undertake a new spacecraft, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (or "IBEX") that will launch in 2008 to travel to the edge of our solar system and study the boundary between the end of our sun's influence and the beginning of interstellar space. This area is currently being explored by the Voyager probes, but only as an extended mission after their primary purpose.

27 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § SMART Photos

MoonESA has released the first images of the moon taken by its SMART-1 orbiter.

+ 0 - 0 | § ESA On ISS

Thomas ReiterAccording to SpaceDaily, German astronaut Thomas Reiter will serve on the ISS later this year, becoming the first non-NASA or Rosaviakosmos spacefarer to make a long-duration stay on the Station. Reiter has previously stayed on Mir for 179 days. The story doesn't explain exactly how or when this will happen, noting only that it will be in the second half of the year, and will depend on when the Shuttle returns to flight.
Here's this blog's guess: Currently, the STS-121 Shuttle flight, scheduled for launch NET July 10, has only six crewmembers, meaning there's an empty seat. Perhaps the two-person Expedition 11 crew will launch in April. Then, Reiter could join them on Atlantis midway through their mission, since the Station can have up to three crewmembers currently. If the rumors that Greg Olsen will visit the Station as a space tourist in October are true, then Reiter wouldn't be able to return home with Expedition 11, since their third Soyuz seat would be taken by Olsen. However, Olsen's seat on the Soyuz craft on the way up would also mean that Expedition 12 would also be limited to two crewmembers, so Reiter could stay on ISS when they arrive, perhaps returning home on the STS-115 Shuttle flight, currently scheduled for NET December 8, which also currently only has six crewmembers manifested. If it in fact unfolds this way, this would be the first time a long-duration crewmember would serve a staggered increment on ISS, until now, crews have all arrived and departed the Station together. (Staggered crews were common on Mir, however.)

Addendum: Cosmic Log has some additional thoughts on the matter.

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

Apollo I crew

On this date in 1967, the Apollo I crew of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee lost their lives when a fire started in the Apollo Command Module during a test on the launch pad.

And so begins the darkest week of NASA history.

26 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Want To Date A Comet?

SOHO image of cometNASA's SOHO solar observatory has already discovered around 900 comets, and is well on its way to finding a nice, even 1,000, likely sometime this summer.
To mark the occassion, NASA is sponsoring a contest, offering prizes to the person who can guess most accurately when comet number 1,000 will be spotted.

+ 0 - 0 | § Another View

planetThe Hubble Space Telescope has provided more support for claims that an extrasolar world has been directly imaged for the first time, this time capturing infrared images of the "candidate planet."

+ 0 - 0 | § Safely Back Inside

EVAI'm generally not the superstitious type, but, given the time of year, I was very happy to hear this morning than the International Space Station's Expedition 10 crew is safely back inside the Station after a five-and-a-half-hour spacewalk this morning. There were a few challenges (a longer-than-allowed workday, problems getting real-time video on the ground, attitude control difficulties), but no major problems.

25 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § RTF Update

STS-114Per Floriday Today:
Bunny-suited workers at Kennedy Space Center carefully settled a new inspection boom into place on the right side of shuttle Discovery's payload bay Monday.
"I was very excited, and so was everybody else, because it is a major milestone," said United Space Alliance's Mike Olejarski, who manages the people who installed the boom. ...
The move took place in the hangar where workers are readying Discovery to lead the shuttle fleet back to space in May.
"We're counting down the days," Olejarski said.

(So is ATW: T -109 days and counting.)

+ 0 - 0 | § Going For A Walk

Sharipov with OrlanThe Expedition 10 crew of the International Space Station will make the first spacewalk of their increment tomorrow morning, beginning at 1:25 a.m. CST. Per SpaceDaily, the crew "will install a work platform, mount a robotics experiment, check vents on systems that help control the Station's atmosphere and install a scientific experiment." This will be Chiao's fifth EVA, and Sharipov's first. The EVA will be televised and webcast on NASA TV, and if you watch it, you're a better person than I.

+ 0 - 0 | § CEV 411

CEVFor those willing to read through it, NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle glossary has a few interesting facts, such as the fact that current plans are for a Mars CEV flyby prior to human landings on the Red Planet.

+ 0 - 0 | § Year Of Opportunity

OpportunityNow that the east coast has marked the one-year anniversary of Opportunity's landing on Mars, has an article on the highlights of the rover's martian exploration.

24 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

OpportunityOn this date last year, Opportunity joined Spirit on the surface of Mars. (Note: For anyone east of the Central time zone, read this tomorrow.)

+ 0 - 0 | § GO Again?

OlsenAccording to Cosmic Log, Greg Olsen, who was a space tourist candidate last year before being disqualified, reportedly for medical reasons, is once again in line for a Soyuz flight.

+ 0 - 0 | § Hubble Trouble Update

HubbleSo the other day, Tutor said he had thought about blogging about the robotic Hubble servicing mission being cancelled, but that he figured he'd wait and let me do it. I told him to go ahead, that he would probably have more to say about it than I. Well, there's still no Tutorblogging on the subject, so here goes. (more)

+ 0 - 0 | § On The Shoulders Of Titan

TitanDue to a busy schedule Friday I'm late blogging this, but ESA released a lot of info about Titan, which is the first wet world we've ever visited. Scientists said it may have rained at the landing site only days before.
While the liquids would be methane or something similar, water ice also exists on the Moon.
By the way, as people who have been following the methane findings on Mars know, methane gas does not last very long, relatively speaking, in an atmosphere; which has led some to theorize that there may be life currently on Mars, since there's has to be something replenishing the methane supply. On Titan, the atmospheric methane seems to be coming from a large supply of subsurface liquid methane, which would have a much longer lifespan. So, unlike on Mars, the methane does not necessarily indicate a chance of life (though, to be sure, that doesn't necessarily rule it out, either).

Addendum: Ironically, the next story I read after posting this was one of the first I've seen to really explore the issue of possible life on Titan.

20 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § NASA Cosmonaut?

FinckeThe Huntsville Times has an article about Expedition 9 Science Officer Mike Fincke, whom I got to talk to Tuesday.
Fincke has the distinction of being the only flown NASA astronaut to have never flown on a NASA spacecraft.

+ 0 - 0 | § Forever Young

BuzzThe Washington Post on comments by Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) about Buzz Aldrin at inaugural events yesterday:
Feeney lauded Aldrin as the second man to walk on the moon, following " Neil Young." Huh? Certainly he meant Neil Armstrong?
"We have an official position: I did not intend to say that it was Buzz Aldrin and Neil Young who were the first two men on the moon," Feeney told us yesterday. "Number two, we are printing a full retraction. And number three, it was David Crosby who I intended to say was one of the first men on the moon."

Addendum: Per collectSPACE, Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Eugene Cernan, Richard Gordon, Al Worden and Harrison Schmitt took part in the Celebration of Freedom concert held in Washington, DC earlier this evening as the events planned for President Bush's inauguration started.
Also, today is Buzz's 75 birthday.

+ 0 - 0 | § Mars Rocks!

meteoriteThe strange rock spotted on Mars by Opportunity that I posted about earlier has been confirmed to be an iron meteorite, making it the first meteorite found on another planet.
Per Steve Squyres:
"Think about where an iron meteorite comes from: a destroyed planet or planetesimal that was big enough to differentiate into a metallic core and a rocky mantle."

Which means that, with this meteorite and the rover's own heatshield, Opportunity has had the opportunity while on Mars to examine materials from three different worlds.

On a similar note, has a Best of the Rovers image gallery.

19 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § X Prize Cup

Ansari X PrizeAccording to Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log, a warm-up exposition for the X Prize Cup competition is being planned for September. No word what the expo will feature, since there is currently only one flight-worthy private manned spacecraft in the world, and it hasn't flown since October, and Rutan has said it may not fly again.

+ 0 - 0 | § Spinmeister

RegulusThe smaller circle in the picture to the right is our sun, presented for comparison purposes. The funky bigger oval thing is the star Regulus, which astronomers have discovered is oblong due to an unusually rapid rotation rate.

+ 0 - 0 | § Meet 'Mr. O'

Mars Reconnaissance has a good story about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is scheduled to rocket to the Red Planet in August of this year.

18 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Hall Of Fame

AHOF logoInducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in April will be Bruce McCandless, the first person to freely spacewalk without a tether; Gordon Fullerton, one of the Space Shuttle's first test pilots and mission commanders, and Joe Allen, the first astronaut to capture a satellite in space.

+ 0 - 0 | § A Year Later

Bush delivers Vision speechPer The Orlando Sentinel:
Much has been made of the fact that Bush barely mentioned space exploration last year after his speech at NASA headquarters in January. But in an interview with regional reporters last week, he was emphatic about his support.
"The space vision met some resistance by some, but we got it fully funded," said Bush, adding that he likes the idea of going back to the moon, using it as a testing ground and then going beyond.
"I spent capital before," he said. "I'll spend it again on NASA."

And, per The Houston Chronicle:
On the first anniversary of President Bush's vow to send explorers to the moon and Mars, departing NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe said Friday that the White House will offer increased funding to reinforce its support for the plan.

And, per Space Politics:
O'Keefe said that while President Bush remained quiet about the exploration vision in public in 2004—to avoid politicizing it during the campaign—he personally lobbied members of Congress to gain their support for the plan. O'Keefe: "I'll take actions over further commentary at any time."

+ 0 - 0 | § Deep Impact--The Movie

Deep ImpactMean to post this on the day of the launch last week, but here's a cool animation of Deep Impact's comet collision, scheduled for July 4.

+ 0 - 0 | § Alien Audio

TitanScience@NASA has an article on "The Sights and Sounds
of Titan
that discusses the pictures sent back by Huygens and includes a link to the ESA site that has downloadable audio recorded by the probe during its decent through the moon's atmosphere. (It's even an .mp3, so you can put the sounds of Titan on your iPod.)

15 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Orange Moon

TitanThe first images of Titan to be released were impressive enough.
To think that, a year ago, we hadn't peered through Titan's cloud cover enough to have any real idea of what the surface of the moon looked like. And, yet, here, now, were actual photos of the surface of Titan; the first pictures taken from the surface of a world in the outer solar system. Titan's veil of secrecy had been pierced--humanity, though our robotic proxy, was on the surface.
To be honest, it was beyond my expectations. I was looking forward to the wealth of data Huygens would send back during its decent through the only atmosphere around a moon in our solar system, but I was expecting the touchdown to be either a splash or a splat that would preclude post-landing imagery. And, yet, there it is.
The first picture from the surface, the black-and-white version, was impressive enough. They looked like an alien world. No doubt, however, that's because they looked like what we now expect an alien world to look like; the surface features were familiarly extraterrestrial after viewing MER photos from Mars for about a year now.
But, the picture to the right--That's not Mars.

14 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Martian Meteorite?

OpportunityOpportunity has discovered an unusual object on Mars which scientists believe may be a meteorite that landed on the red planet.

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

Bush delivers Vision speech

On this date last year, the journey back to the moon officially began when President George W. Bush announced what became known as the Vision for Space Exploration.
"We do not know where this journey will end, yet we know this: Human beings are headed into the cosmos."
Although the step of returning humans to the Moon is still a long ways off, much has already happened in the past year to make the Vision a reality.
The NASA homepage has an article about some of the many things going on at NASA right now to support the Vision. (An article which I contributed a small bit too, and which namechecks the site I write for.)

+ 0 - 0 | § Save The Saturn

Saturn tagThis is one just for ATW readers in Alabama:
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center has received authorization for a specialty license plate to raise funds to repair the Saturn V at the museum, one of only three remaining in the world. Before the tags will be produced, however, 1,000 orders must be placed by the end of this month. As of Wednesday, 720 orders had been received.
Not only does the tag help support a great cause, it's a great deal, also. Everyone how commits to buying a tag will receive two free admission tickets to the museum, which themselves are worth $37.90, a good chunk of the price of the tag. In addition, the tags can be personalized for no additional charge, and the personalization is normally $50. In addition, for Madison County residents, Kroger is offering gift cards to the first 200 people to order the tag online [though I have no idea where that stands].

I placed my order for one of the tags Wednesday. I strongly encourage any ATW readers in Alabama to do the same. For more information, or to order online, visit

+ 0 - 0 | § Strange Visitors

Now a team of American scientists note that recent astrophysical discoveries suggest that we should find ourselves in the midst of one or more extraterrestrial civilizations. Moreover, they argue it is a mistake to reject all UFO reports since some evidence for the theoretically-predicted extraterrestrial visitors might just be found there.

+ 0 - 0 | § Touchdown!

artist's rendering of Huygen's descent

After descending through the solar system's only atmospere around a moon, the Huygens probe has landed safely on Titan, and sent back a signal from the surface of Saturn's largest satellite.
One more major hurdle remains: The signal that has been received only lets scientists know that Huygens is still operational, the most important signal, the one with the actual data it collected, is supposed to have been beamed to the Cassini spacecraft, which is to relay it on to Earth. That signal was to arrive here hours after the first signal, so has not yet been received.

13 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

TFNG womenOn this date in 1978, in preparation for the upcoming beginning of the Space Shuttle program, NASA selected its largest class of astronauts, popularly known as the "Thirty-Five New Guys." Among those selected in the eighth astronaut group were NASA's first female and African-American astronauts.

+ 0 - 0 | § Saturn Day's Night All Right For Sighting

SaturnSaturn will be at perigee tonight, making for some good viewing of the planet, if you're into that sort of thing.

12 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

Mercury readied for flight testOn this date in 1959, NASA awarded McDonell Aircraft Corp. the contract for the construction of the Mercury spacecraft. (Today's history stolen verbatim from collectSPACE.) The picture at right is of a full-size capsule being readied for flight test atop the first Little Joe booster just over seven months later.

+ 0 - 0 | § After X

Wild FireAlan Boyle's Cosmic Log has an update on upcoming private spaceflight developments, including the announcement of a new private spaceport, the naming of the next private space tourist, and the continuing status of the Da Vinci project launch.

+ 0 - 0 | § Jurassic NASA

T-RexOne of the most complete T. rex skulls ever discovered is now here at Marshall. Equipment used for nondestructive testing of spacecraft will be used to study the interior of the skull.

+ 0 - 0 | § Administrator Update

O'KeefePer NASA Watch:
President Bush has selected federal appeals court judge Michael Chertoff to be the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. During the past few weeks, the White House has had a number of senior positions to fill: Homeland Security, EPA, and NASA. Filling the top slots at Homeland Security and EPA have been a little higher on the priority list than NASA. With Homeland Security taken care of they can now devote more time to finding a new Administrator for EPA - and one for NASA.

+ 0 - 0 | § Deep Impact

Deep ImpactNASA's comet-collider spacecraft, Deep Impact, is scheduled for launch today at 12:47:08 p.m. CST atop a Boing Delta 2 booster. It appears the launch will be broadcast on NASA TV via cable and the Web. The impactor spacecraft will collide with comet Tempel 1 on July 4.

11 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Strange New World

imaged planetAstronomers are pretty confident that they have now taken a second picture of the first extrasolar world to be photographed. Hoping to verify the first picture taken by the European Southern Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope was used to take another image of the object, adding more credence to it being a planet.

10 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Wounded Planet

Per Science@NASA:
NASA scientists studying the Indonesian earthquake of Dec. 26, 2004, have calculated that it slightly changed our planet's shape, shaved almost 3 microseconds from the length of the day and shifted the North Pole by centimeters.

+ 0 - 0 | § Problem Found

D4H launchingPer Spaceflight Now:
Errant readings from sensors inside the inaugural Boeing Delta 4-Heavy rocket triggered the premature shutdown of its three main engines during ascent last month, causing a massive underspeed that the vehicle's upper stage could not overcome and resulting in a final orbit lower than planned, the U.S. Air Force said Friday. A team investigating results of the test launch are confident the problem can be resolved.

07 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

EuropaOn this date in 1610, Galileo discovers the first three Jovian moons.

+ 0 - 0 | § RTF Update

ETWith the arrival of External Tank ET-120 at the Vehicle Assembly Building, all three elements of the Space Shuttle are together at Kennedy Space Center and almost ready to be stacked. After that--the pad.

06 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § The Next Saturn

SaturnAccording to a Space News article I can't link to, the White House has ordered NASA and the Pentagon to work together to present a joint recommendation for the development of a new heavy-lift launch vehicle.

+ 0 - 0 | § Positive Elektron

ISSUm, ignore that post yesterday about the Elektron oxygen generator being down. Not only has it been fixed, but it was already working yesterday even before I posted that.

+ 0 - 0 | § Space Blog

Exp. 10So apparently Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao has been keeping a blog from space, consisting primarily of photos from Earth. Unlike other Space Station crewmembers who have written regularly from orbit, though, Chiao's blog is not on a NASA site, but at, which seems sort of odd.
If anyone's interested in following Chiao's blog, I'm linking to it from the Expedition 10 pic in the "On Orbit" box in the lefthand sidebar.

05 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Negative Elektron

ISSThe Elektron oxygen generator on ISS is malfunctioning once again, forcing the Expedition 10 crew to rely on back-up oxygen supplies. The main back-up oxygen will last until about the time the next Progress will dock (and there are further reserves after that), meaning that, even if the Elektron cannot be fixed without additional parts, it could be possible to avoid having to decrew the Station. However, repair efforts will continue.

04 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Farewell

Freas' SkylabIt's a tribute to his ability how many varied subject Web sites I read reported the passing this weekend of artist Kelly Freas.
In the spaceflight community, he is recognized for the work that NASA commissioned him to do. In the entertainment community, he is known as a multi-Hugo-winning science fiction artist. Even the comic book community mourns his passing, noting his occassional work in that medium.
I'm very proud to own a signed early print of the artwork at right that Freas was commissioned to do by the first Skylab crew to be used on their mission patch.

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

SputnikPer collectSPACE, on this date in 1958, after 92 days orbiting the Earth, Sputnik 1 reentered the atmosphere and disintegrated.

+ 0 - 0 | § The Human Adventure

astronaut on MarsDuring the incredible work that Spirit and Opportunity have being doing on Mars, I've always maintained the view that their great successes prove not that there's no need for human explorers there, but rather demonstrate just how much need there is for humans to be on the martian surface ourselves.
So today I was glad to see that among those echoing that view is Steve Squyres, the top scientist for the Mars rover missions, who makes some really great points about the need to send people to the Red Planet.

+ 0 - 0 | § Administrator Update

O'KeefePer NASA Watch:
Reliable sources say that none of the names that have been circulating on Capitol Hill (and within NASA and the aerospace industry) are currently under consideration for NASA Administrator by the White House. Either the folks on this "list" took themselves out of consideration or they were never being considered in the first place. Given Sean O'Keefe's planned departure in February, and the Bush Administration's penchant for filling positions quickly, and the release of a new budget in a few weeks, one can expect that something will emerge rather soon. Given another habit, i.e. that this White House keeps things under wraps until they chose the right moment, the identity of their choice will likely emerge only a short time before an official announcement.

+ 0 - 0 | § Picture Of The Day

Opportunity's heat shield
Opportunity inspects its heat shield. Photo by the only organization taking pictures on the surface of Mars, of course. More good heat shield pics from Sols 331 to 335.

+ 0 - 0 | § Year On Mars In Review

roverSpaceflight Now has an article reviewing the accomplishments of the Mars rovers during their first (Earth) year on the Red Planet, and looking ahead to the future.

03 January 05

+ 0 - 0 | § Commander Foale

FoalePer The AP:
Singer Roger Daltrey of The Who and British-born U.S. astronaut Michael Foale were named Commanders of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, in the annual accolades for achievement in society, business, culture and sports.
Congrats to Dr. Foale!

+ 0 - 0 | § One Year On Mars

roverToday marks the one-(Earth-)year anniversary of Spirit's landing on Mars. Not bad for an exploration mission that was originally planned to last 90 days.

+ 0 - 0 | § The Search Continues

SETIAccording to this article, SETI is about to take advantage of new equipment that will greatly aid the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.