A speck of lunar dust about the size of a finger nail, which has been missing since shortly after it was brought back to Earth by the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, has been recovered by NASA and the US Attorney’s Office from an auction house in St. Louis. Originally lifted from a film canister, the dust was sold in 2001 to a German collector whose widow was trying to sell it. When informed of the dust’s provenance, she returned it to the US government.
Asteroid 2011 MD is expected to pass less than 8,000 miles above Earth’s surface on Monday, June 27. Closest approach will take place off the coast of Antarctica, but the asteroid may be visible from the Americas, the Pacific, and eastern Asia prior to its passage.
A 7 meter long asteroid, 2009 BD, passed within 346,000 kilometers of the Earth on June 2, coming inside the Moon’s orbit. Because 2009 BD is a co-orbital object, it will remain relatively close to the Earth for the next month or so, generally about 3,850,000 km away.
NASA sent the shutdown command to the Mars Spirit Rover on May 25, seven years after the exploration vehicle landed. Spirit was scheduled to operate for approximately three weeks and cover a distance of a couple hundred yards. Instead, it operated for more than five years and covered almost five miles. Spirit made its last transmission on March 22, 2010. Spirit‘s sister craft, Opportunity, is still operating.
NASA has announced that the final launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis will occur on July 8, 2011. This will also be the final launch of the space shuttle program, which began with the launch of Columbia in 1981. Atlantis was previously scheduled for a final launch in May, 2010.
The final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour has been postponed at least 72 hours due to concerns relating to the shuttle’s heating system. The external fuel tank will be drained of its oxygen and hydrogen propellants. This will the 25th and final mission of Endeavour.
NASA announced the four museums which will receive the space shuttles Discovery, Endeavour, Atlantis, and prototype shuttle Enterprise at a press conference held on the fiftieth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight and the thirtieth anniversary of the first launch of Columbia. Discovery has already flown its final mission. Endeavour‘s final launch is scheduled for April 29 and Atlantis‘s final launch for June 28.
The disposition of the shuttles is:
- Discovery: Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
- Endeavour: California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA
- Atlantis: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
- Enterprise: Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NR
STS-134, the final flight for the space shuttle Endeavour has been postponed from April 19 until April 29. The delay removes a scheduling conflict with a Russian Progress supply vehicle scheduled to launch April 27 and arrive at the station April 29.
A Mycenaean tablet with writing has been found at an archaeological site in Iklaina on the Peloponnesian Peninsula. The tablet has been dated to between 1450 and 1350 B.C., which would make it the oldest known writing found in Europe. The tablet contains Linear B and seems to record financial information. The tablet survives because the clay was baked in a garbage bin fire.
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