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February 18, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
Bill Gordon, who designed a massive radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, arranged funding, shepherded it through construction and was its first director, died Tuesday of natural causes in Ithaca, N.Y. He was 92. Non-astronomers might not be familiar with the name of the Arecibo Observatory, but film buffs will recognize the massive dish, sunk in a limestone sinkhole in the picturesque hills of the island country and was featured in the 1997...
January 8, 2010 | Thomas H. Maugh II
Retired Air Force Gen. Lew Allen Jr., who during his multifaceted career headed the National Security Agency, was Air Force chief of staff and shepherded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory through a crucial period when budgets were at an all-time low and new space missions didn't seem imminent, has died. He was 84. Allen died Monday in Potomac Falls, Va., his family announced. No cause was given. Allen led the laboratory in La CaƱada Flintridge during a period that saw the launches of the Galileo mission to Jupiter, Magellan to Venus, the Voyager 2 flybys of Uranus and Neptune and the Infrared Astronomical Satellite to Earth orbit.
December 10, 2009 | By John Johnson Jr.
One might think that after centuries of scanning the night skies, mankind would have a pretty clear idea of who our galactic neighbors are, and whether they mean us harm. That's not the case. Vast landscapes of the cosmos remain hidden to us because most of our telescopes plumb the heavens for light that can be seen by the human eye -- and that constitutes only a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum. "Think of a wall map," said Edward Wright, an astronomy professor at UCLA.
November 24, 2009 | By John Johnson Jr.
If there were a Guinness world record for making telescope mirrors, Dean Ketelsen would likely win it. Colleagues boast that the onetime Iowa farm boy has ground and polished more square footage of optics than any human being alive. "It used to be a mysterious thing that hunch-backed people in white coats did," the 55-year-old technician said while taking a break at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. "Now we use machines to grind the glass. They've taken a lot of the black arts out of it."
October 28, 2009 | Thomas H. Maugh II
In what they called a medical first in a toddler, surgeons at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital have implanted a telescoping artificial prosthesis in the arm of a 3-year-old to replace a humerus that was removed because of cancer. Nearly a year later, Mark Blinder is thriving and cancer-free. Mark, now 4, developed pain in his right arm in April of last year. By July, oncologists had diagnosed Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone tumor. Chemotherapy reduced the pain but did not eradicate the tumor.
September 10, 2009 | Washington Post
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, rebuilt by astronauts, has demonstrated its new powers with a stunning set of images of exploding stars, a stellar nursery, colliding galaxies and the lensing effect of a galactic cluster nearly halfway across the universe. Hubble was repaired and refurbished this year in a series of tense spacewalks by astronauts on the space shuttle Atlantis, all of whom attended a packed briefing Wednesday morning at NASA headquarters. They fixed two broken instruments and installed a new camera, a spectrograph, new batteries and gyroscopes.
September 1, 2009 | John Johnson Jr.
For nearly half a century, the Mt. Wilson Observatory was not only the center of the universe for the study of space science, it taught us just how huge that universe was. At the eyepiece of the observatory's then ground-breaking 100-inch Hooker telescope astronomer Edwin Hubble made two of the most shocking scientific discoveries of the 20th century: The universe was far larger than anyone imagined and it was expanding. Those discoveries knocked man from his cherished place at the seat of creation to the status of a middling creature scuttling across the surface of an obscure planet among trillions of stars.
July 25, 2009 | Times Wire Reports
One of the world's most powerful telescopes opened its shutters in the Canary Islands to begin exploring faint light from distant parts of the universe. The Gran Telescopio Canarias, a $185-million telescope featuring a 34-foot reflecting mirror, sits atop an extinct volcano. Its perch above cloud cover takes advantage of the pristine skies over the Atlantic Ocean. The observatory is at 7,870 feet above sea level where prevailing winds keep the atmosphere stable and transparent, the Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute said.
May 25, 2009 | Ari B. Bloomekatz
The space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven returned to Earth on Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, announcing its approach with twin sonic booms. Atlantis circled Earth 197 times and traveled 5.3 million miles before ending its daring 13-day mission to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope. The shuttle, which landed at 8:39 a.m., had been diverted to California after nasty weather prevented a landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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