SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY
Falcon 9 Launch Successful
A private cargo rocket built by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. of Hawthorne, Calif. blasted off last week, headed to the International Space Station. The rocket carried only about 1,000 pounds of cargo. The importance of the launch was more technical and symbolic.
In other space news, stargazers will have a chance on June 5 to glimpse a transit of Venus, in which the planet passes directly between Earth and the sun. Venus will take six hours to march across the star's face, appearing as an inky black dot in silhouette against the solar disk.
The moon nearly blotted out the sun last week, creating a blazing "ring of fire" eclipse visible in many parts of the world.
In 2019, a spacecraft known as Euclid will begin a mission to study dark energy. But it is being launched by the European Space Agency, not NASA, with American astronomers serving only as very junior partners.
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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays
Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.
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