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Image of the aurora surrounding Jupiter's moon Io 2000 in
Space Science
and Astronomy


Top space stories of the year 2000, according to CNN:

Top space science and astronomy stories, according to Science News:

  • In some of the coldest regions on Mars, water appears to have recently gushed from just beneath the surface.

  • Images suggest that parts of Mars were once lands of lakes and reveal places to look for evidence of life.

  • NASA's two most recent missions to Mars failed because they were underfunded, managed by inexperienced people, and insufficiently tested, a panel found.

  • Revamping its Mars program, NASA announced it would delay by nearly a decade plans to bring back material from the Red Planet.

  • A galaxy map revealed the largest structures in the cosmos.

  • Two new X-ray observatories opened a window on the most energetic cosmic events, while astronomers progressed in designing an X-ray mission that would image coronas of nearby stars and black holes.

  • Supermassive black holes at galaxy cores proved far more numerous than visible-light surveys had indicated.

  • New evidence supported the notion that Jupiter's moon Europa contains an ocean beneath its icy surface, and a scientist proposed a novel way for Europa to have obtained the energy required to sustain life within that ocean.

  • A combination of images, spectra, and magnetic field measurements suggested that another Jovian moon, Ganymede, may also have had and may still harbor an ocean.

  • Preliminary tests supported the notion that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

  • On Valentine's Day, the NEAR spacecraft cozied up to the asteroid 433 Eros, becoming the first craft to orbit a tiny body.

  • NEAR found evidence that the rock dates from the birth of the solar system and took the sharpest images yet of an asteroid.

  • Evidence grew that life's evolutionary explosion on Earth some 540 million years ago occurred around the time that cosmic debris began pummeling our planet at an increasing rate.

  • New research also suggested that a swarm of debris bombarded the moon, and likely Earth, some 3.9 billion years ago, about the time life may have debuted on our planet.

  • Scientists isolated carbon spheres -- and perhaps trapped extraterrestrial gas -- from meteorites.

  • A meteorite that fell in the Yukon may date from the solar system's birth.

  • Astronomers found evidence of extrasolar planets similar in size to those of the solar system and the nearest known extrasolar planet.

  • For the first time, they obtained images of as many as 18 objects that, based on their mass alone, could qualify as extrasolar planets.

  • A controversial study claimed that nearly half the objects reported to be extrasolar planets are merely lightweight stars or star wannabes known as brown dwarfs.

  • Spacecraft data suggested that otherwise invisible comets could be detected by searches for their tails.

  • A balloon-borne experiment found that the cosmos is perfectly flat.

  • Half of the universe's hydrogen gas, which hasn't been accounted for, may reside in relatively nearby reaches of intergalactic space.

  • Astronomers discovered the most distant galaxy so far detected.

  • Researchers developed detailed maps of the distribution of dark matter, the invisible material believed to make up 90 percent of the universe's mass.

  • Galaxies are surrounded by vast halos of dark matter that may extend at least 1.5 million light-years from their centers.

  • Physicists duked it out over the existence of WIMPs, elementary particles that could solve a mystery about the universe's dark matter and help unify the four fundamental forces of nature.

  • Scientists made progress in understanding the origin of solar storms, predicting when and how they will erupt and estimating when they might strike Earth.

  • A simple sugar was spotted in interstellar space for the first time.

  • Earth's home galaxy indulged in cannibalism to assemble its so-called visible halo, three studies found.

  • Telescope images of what may be a close-up view of galaxy formation suggested that some streams of gas and dust that are ripped out of large galaxies can form into galaxies of their own.

  • Astronomers may finally have evidence that a spinning object drags space-time along with it.

  • A communications problem was revealed that could prevent the Huygens probe from relaying all its data when it parachutes through the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, in 2004.

  • Satellite observations of clouds above Earth indicated that some types of airborne pollution can break up water droplets and suppress rainfall.

  • NASA studies showed that the vast center of Greenland's ice sheet isn't getting thinner, but most of its margins are, contributing to rising sea levels.

  • Satellite images confirmed that the northern United States had much less snow cover than normal this spring, following North America's warmest winter on record.

Top astronomy stories of 2000, according to the BBC:

  • Knowledge of the Universe expanded rapidly during 2000. Data from distant galaxies provided evidence that the cosmos is expanding at an accelerating rate.

  • More gas-giant planets were found orbiting other stars in 2000. The powerful telescopes needed to see Earth-sized planets have yet to be built, but may be returning images from space by 2010.

  • Astronomers continued to examine swarms of icy bodies in the outer reaches of the Solar System, leftover from planetary formation billions of years ago.

  • The more that astronomers found out about the Red Planet's history, the more Mars reminded them of the warm and wet Earth. In 2000, a team of scientists that had claimed back in 1996 to have found evidence of life in a Martian meteorite suggested that magnetic grains in the rock were identical to features produced by bacteria on Earth.

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