Archive for December, 2003

Mars Lander Beagle 2 Remains Silent

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 29, 2003   View Article

Scientists are clinging to hope that Europe’s first probe to land on Mars will speak up and be heard, though no signal from Beagle 2 has been received since it touched down on the red planet Christmas Day.

The British-built probe was jettisoned from its mother ship, Mars Express, on December 19. Upon landing on the red planet December 25, Beagle 2 was to relay a signal of its success via NASA’s orbiting Mars Odyssey spacecraft.

Earthlike Planets May Be Common, Analysis Suggests

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 18, 2003   View Article

Are we alone? The question has tickled the human imagination for years, perhaps ever since our earliest ancestors looked up at the night sky into the endless sea of stars. Is anyone else out there?

Humans do not yet have a definitive answer to the question, but a team of astronomers running computer simulations of planet formation has found that Earthlike planets with enough water to support life could be fairly common.

Ancient Figurines Found – From First Modern Humans?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 17, 2003   View Article

Humans have had a refined artistic bent for at least 33,000 years, according to the discovery of three deftly carved ivory figurines in a cave in southwestern Germany. The miniature statues include a horse, a diving waterfowl, and a half-man, half-lion.

The figurines come from an ongoing excavation of Hohle Fels Cave in the Ach Valley and are dated to a time when some of the earliest known relatives of modern humans populated Europe, an era known as the Aurignacian.

Where Is Amelia Earhart? – Three Theories

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 15, 2003   View Article

In the early morning hours of July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart was scheduled to land her airplane on the tiny Pacific Ocean island of Howland just north of the Equator. She never arrived.

Her fate remains one of aviation’s greatest unsolved mysteries. Organizations and researchers have spent millions of dollars investigating the case and several books have been published that examine the differing theories.

Spacecraft Draw Closer to Mars

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 12, 2003   View Article

Spacecraft from three different space missions are drawing closer to Mars. Over the next six weeks, landers and rovers are scheduled to touch down on the red planet’s surface. Together with orbiting spacecraft, the probes will poke, scratch, sniff, and image the Martian environment for clues to the existence of past or present life.

Mission scientists will clear a significant hurdle to see their spacecraft simply reach Mars.

Mars Sundial to Help Teach Kids About Time, Sun

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 9, 2003   View Article

If all goes according to plan this coming January, the twin Spirit and Opportunity rovers will land on Mars. At that same time continuously updated images of sundials built by school children and individuals around the world will launch on the Internet.

The link between the two lies in science and the sun.

Fossils Shed Light on Africa’s “Missing Years”

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 3, 2003   View Article

A massive, ancient, rhino-like creature with two bony horns protruding from its nose and several species of distant elephant relatives are among a jackpot of fossils recovered from the highlands of Ethiopia.

The fossils help fill a huge gap in the evolutionary history of African mammals known as the “missing years,” shedding light on the origin and distribution of the famed beasts that roam Africa today.

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