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X-ray image of hundreds of white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes in multimillion-degree gas fog at Milky Way core, by Q. Daniel Wang, Univ of Mass
Q Daniel Wang Univ of Mass
2002 in
Space Science
and Astronomy


Top space-related stories of 2002 according to CNN's Year In Review:
  • Mars Odyssey exploration captured the public's imagination with the possibility of ice on Mars and the idea that Mars may have been hospitable to life. story

  • Breathtaking views of the Universe in Hubble Space Telescope images. story

  • Global warming on Earth had scientists, politicians and the public wondering about climate changes around the planet. story

Top space stories of 2002 according to MSNBC's 2002 Top Stories:

  • Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Co. launched flawless maiden flights of new space rockets — Atlas 5 in August and Delta 4 in November.

  • NASA lost contact with the comet-chasing Contour probe in August as it was firing its solid-rocket motor to leave Earth orbit.

  • Failure of a Russian Soyuz unmanned rocket in October slowed plans for commercial flights to the International Space Station.

  • A Russian Proton rocket failed in November to put Europe's Astra 1K into orbit so the six-ton craft, the world's largest telecommunication satellite, was dropped to Earth.

  • An Ariane 5 rocket provided a significant reversal for the European Space Agency when it failed during launch in December.

  • South African Internet millionaire Mark Shuttleworth in April became the second space tourist to pay his own way to the International Space Station.

  • After months of cosmonaut training, band member Lance Bass, 23, failed to become the first entertainer in space when he couldn't pay $20 million.

  • The Russians said they wouldn't be able to support continuous manned operations aboard the International Space Station unless they received more money from outside sources.

  • NASA had to deal with tighter budgets and progress on building the International Space Station was cranked down leaving some wondering if the ISS would fulfill its promise for research.

  • Mars Odyssey sent the first images of its mapping mission in March, including night-vision infrared pictures.

  • Some astronomers saw dark streaks on the Red Planet as hints of past flows of salty water.

  • Astronauts installed new camera equipment on the 12-year-old Hubble Space Telescope in March.

  • Highlights in the 2002 skies above Earth included November's Leonid meteor shower and December's total solar eclipse visible from Africa and Australia.

Top space stories of 2002 according to the British Broadcasting Corporation BBC Review of the Year:

  • Final construction of the European Space Agency's daring Rosetta mission to visit the comet Wirtanen, one of family of comets near Jupiter, and land a robot explorer there. story

  • The European Space Agency believes that technology will exist by 2025 to send humans to Mars. story

Top space stories of 2002 according to Australian Broadcasting Corporation's ABC Year in Review:

Top astronomy stories of 2002 according to Science News' Science News of the Year:

  • Looking at faint stars, scientists calculated the Universe's age to be between 13 and 14 billion years.

  • A new camera aboard the Hubble Space Telescope snapped one of the the sharpest and most detailed photos of the distant Universe ever.

  • Hubble's infrared vision was restored after 3 years of blindness.

  • Looking at a tiny galaxy being born, astronomers saw how larger galaxies formed early in the history of the Universe.

  • X-ray, infrared, and radio telescope provided clear views of the dust-shrouded center of our Milky Way galaxy.

  • X-ray photographs showed hundreds of white dwarf stars, neutron stars, and stellar-mass black holes at the Milky Way's core, all bathed in a fog of multimillion-degree gas surrounding a supermassive black hole.

  • Observations of the cosmic microwave background supported the Big Bang.

  • The most detailed snapshots ever of the infant universe were recorded, suggesting mysterious material makes up most cosmic energy and is accelerating Universe expansion.

  • Astronomers studied the birth of the first stars with new computer models.

  • Astronomers found in a mammoth sky survey that galaxies can be divided into two families by mass.

  • Astronomers found an old and primitive star from the very origin of our galaxy.

  • A vast invisible halo of hot gas enveloping the Milky Way may be brushing against nearby galaxies.

  • More details were revealed about the earliest galaxies and clusters in the Universe.

  • Some of the earliest galaxies produced winds so powerful and persistent that influenced the evolution of future galaxies.

  • Two supermassive black holes were found in one galaxy.

  • More evidence was found for a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way.

  • A new midsize class of black hole was discovered.

  • The most violent explosions in the Universe, gamma-ray bursts, may result from black holes being born.

  • Some gamma-ray bursts may originate in relatively nearby galaxies.

  • Water, in a volume equaling four times that of Earth's Lake Tahoe, may have gushed from fissures near Mars' equator 10 million years ago.

  • Mars may have been cold and dry for most of its history, with only brief episodes of hot rain and flash floods.

  • Astronomers recorded the first X-ray image of Mars.

  • Astronomers discovered 12 previously unknown nearby stars within 33 lightyears of Earth.

  • Two mammoth storms collided in Jupiter's upper atmosphere.

  • Planet hunters found a planet similar to Jupiter in orbit around a Sun-like star at a Jupiter-like distance.

  • Arcs, clumps, gaps, rings and warps seen in dusty debris disks around nearby stars were clues to the nature of planets beyond our Solar System.

  • Astronomers measured the mass of a planet outside our Solar System.

  • A young star was found with a belt of asteroids held in place by a massive, unseen planet.

  • A comet split into 19 pieces in a million-kilometer-long chain.

  • Planetary scientists precisely dated a collision that smashed an asteroid into fragments.

  • Astronomers used two unusual opportunities to look through the atmosphere of Pluto.

  • The sharpest visible-light images ever recorded of the Sun revealed puzzling new features of sunspots.

  • Astronomers used a telescope on Earth to look at Jupiter's moon Io and saw the most powerful volcano ever observed in our Solar System.

  • Astronomers used computer models to explore the birth of the first stars in detail.

  • Analysis of trace elements in meteorites suggested that most of the objects that rained on the inner Solar System 3.9 billion years ago were asteroids, not comets.

  • Sediments laid down on Earth 3.47 billion years ago contain remnants of what may have been an extraterrestrial object large enough to disperse collision debris over the entire planet.

  • Mangled microfossils may identify the sites of ancient extraterrestrial-object impacts on Earth.

  • Defense Department mapmakers and NASA scientists are assembling billions of radar measurements by shuttle Endeavour to produce the world's best topographic map.

  • Observations of neutrinos from the Sun and from nuclear-power reactors suggested that neutrinos violate theory of particle physics by frequently changing identities.

  • Physicists theorized that ultradense specks of matter — microscopic black holes — may appear fleetingly in Earth's atmosphere.

Top astronomy stories of 2002 according to Scientific American's Top Science Stories of 2002:

  • Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation's Polarization Detected at Last (CMB is a relic from the early days of the Universe 14 billion years ago).

  • Astronomers Discover Icy World Far Past Pluto (the object named Quaoar ("kwa-whar") is four billion miles from Earth and half Pluto's size).

  • Avoiding the Impact (a football field sized asteroid 2002MN within just 75,000 miles of Earth).

  • Physicists Create a New State of Matter (rubidium atoms at one-hundred-millionth of a degree merge into the single quantum state Bose-Einstein condensate).

  • Mars Odyssey's Measurements Reveal a Wet, Red Planet (dry valleys, channels, and gullies suggest ancient Mars had liquid water, some of which evaporated into the atmosphere and the rest now in water ice inches below the surface of the Red Planet).

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