Physics and Astronomy News Archive: May 2003

Image: Ultrafast Plasma Valve Invented
Ultrafast Plasma Valve Invented
Source: BNL   Posted: 5/29/03
Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory have received a U.S. patent for a device that shuts off airflow into a vacuum about one million times faster than mechanical valves or shutters that are currently in use.

Image: First-Ever Snapshot Released of Mother Earth from Mars
First-Ever Snapshot Released of Mother Earth from Mars
Source: NASA/JPL   Posted: 5/27/03
Have you ever wondered what you would see if you were on Mars looking at Earth through a small telescope? Now you can find out, thanks to a unique view of our world recently captured by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft currently orbiting the red planet.

Image: Physicists Measure Individual Electrons In Real Time
Physicists Measure Individual Electrons In Real Time
Source: RiceU   Posted: 5/26/03
Physicists at Rice University have completed the first real-time measurement of individual electrons, creating an experimental method that for the first time allows scientists to probe the dynamic interactions between the smallest atomic particles.

Image: Springtime on Neptune
Springtime on Neptune
Source: HubbleSite   Posted: 5/19/03
Springtime is blooming on Neptune! This might sound like an oxymoron because Neptune is the farthest and coldest of the major planets. But NASA Hubble Space Telescope observations are revealing an increase in Neptune's brightness in the southern hemisphere, which is considered a harbinger of seasonal change, say astronomers.

Image: Diamond Layer on a Steel Substrate Produced
Diamond Layer on a Steel Substrate Produced
Source: NWO   Posted: 5/17/03
Dutch chemist Ivan Buijnsters from the University of Nijmegen has successfully produced a diamond layer on a steel substrate. This opens up the possibility of wear-resistant tools. The secret to this technique is an adhesive layer between the steel and the diamond layer.

Image: Your Name Could Make a 'Deep Impact' on a Comet
Your Name Could Make a 'Deep Impact' on a Comet
Source: NASA/JPL   Posted: 5/13/03
People worldwide may celebrate July 4, 2005, as the day their names reach a comet. NASA is launching a campaign to send hundreds of thousands of names to comet Tempel 1. The names will be carried on board NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft, the first deep-space mission designed to really reach out and touch a comet.

Image: Eye-Catching Celestial Helix
Eye-Catching Celestial Helix
Source: ESA/NASA   Posted: 5/13/03
In one of the largest and most detailed celestial images ever, astronomers unveil the coil-shaped Helix Nebula giving us a breathtaking look down a tunnel of glowing gases that is a million million kilometres long. The fluorescing tube is pointed nearly directly at Earth, so it looks more like a bubble than a cylinder.

Image: Watching Electricity Flow
Watching Electricity Flow
Source: BrownU   Posted: 5/12/03
Scientists at Brown University have created a magnetic-sensing microscope that allows them to watch electricity flow through the world’s tiniest components. They are using the device to find defects in integrated circuits and micromachinery.

Image: ESA Sets The Date For Mars Express Launch
ESA Sets The Date For Mars Express Launch
Source: ESA   Posted: 5/6/03
Europe’s contribution to the exploration of the Red Planet will begin soon. Just before midnight on 2 June (23:45 local time, 19:45 CET) a Soyuz rocket operated by Starsem will lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, and Mars Express will be on its way.

Image: Mercury Crossing Paths with Sun
Mercury Crossing Paths with Sun
Source: NASA/GSFC   Posted: 5/4/03
The planet Mercury will pass in front of the sun on Wednesday, May 7 in an unusual event called a transit. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft offers excellent, safe views of the rare occurrence to anyone with an Internet connection.