This is Mary Tillotson.
And this is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program
EXPLORATIONS. Today we tell about a new space telescope. We
tell about a new moon found near the planet Uranus. We tell
about a NASA spacecraft that is on its way to Saturn. We also
tell about new photographs taken by the Mars Global Surveyor.
And we tell about music written with the aid of sounds from
NASA has chosen the T-R-W company of Redondo Beach, California,
to build the next space telescope. Plans call for the telescope
to be ready for launch in two-thousand-ten.
NASA officials say the new telescope will be placed in orbit
one-point-five-million kilometers in space. It will be in an
area of space called the second Lagrange Point. This area of
space is where the pull of gravity from the sun and the Earth
are the same.
NASA says the new telescope will be much stronger and will
be able to look much farther into deep space than the older
Hubble Space Telescope.
A space telescope uses a special mirror to collect light from
distant objects. The light the mirror captures produces the
images of these objects. The new space telescope is stronger
than the Hubble because it can collect much more light than
the Hubble can. The Hubble¡¯s light-collecting mirror
is about two-and-one-half meters in diameter.
The new space telescope¡¯s mirror will be six meters
in diameter. The new telescope will be able to see objects that
give off much less light and are much farther away.
NASA says the T-R-W company has agreed to design and build
the new telescope for about eight-hundred-twenty-five million
dollars. The T-R-W company will be responsible for placing the
science instruments into the new space telescope. The company
will also test the new space telescope before the flight and
once it reaches its new home in space.
The Hubble Space Telescope was named for American scientist
Edwin Hubble. The new Space Telescope will be named the James
Webb Space Telescope. Mister Webb was NASA¡¯s second
top administrator. He was responsible for leading NASA during
the Apollo series of explorations that landed the first humans
on the moon. He began several science programs at NASA and was
responsible for more than seventy-five launches of spacecraft
during his time as NASA administrator.
A team of scientists has discovered a new moon in orbit around
the planet Uranus. They named the new moon S/2001 U1 (s-two-thousand-one
u-one). Uranus now has a total of twenty-one known moons.
New moon is circled at top; Uranus is at lower right corner.
The new moon and five similar moons have very unusual orbits
around the planet. Scientists think these unusual moons are
the result of a crash of larger objects that took place when
the planet was being formed.
Christophe Dumas is a scientist with NASA¡¯s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He was one of
the scientists who discovered the new moon.
Mister Dumas says this kind of moon is very difficult to find
because it is so far from the planet. He says it is easily hidden
among stars that can be seen in the distance behind Uranus.
He also said the unusual orbit of the moon made it difficult
Two scientists first observed the new moon. They are Matthew
Holman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in
Cambridge, Massachuttes and J-J Kavelaars of the Dominion Astrophysical
Observatory, in Victoria, British Colombia, Canada. They discovered
the moon in images from the Cerro Tololo Observatory in Chile.
The NASA spacecraft Cassini is traveling to the planet Saturn.
Plans call for it to arrive there in July two-thousand-four.
The Cassini is carrying an instrument called the Huygens [HOY-guns]
The Huygens Probe is designed to be lowered by parachute to
the surface of Saturn¡¯s largest moon, Titan. This
will take place in January, two-thousand-five.
Recently, an electronic report was sent by Cassini to Earth
about the condition of the Huygens Probe. The electronic report
was the result of about five hours of tests. Shaun Standley
is a scientist with the European Space Agency.
The Huygens Probe is a European Space Agency project. Mister
Standley says the five hours of tests are done on the Huygens
Probe about evey six months. The tests include making every
moving part of the probe do its job. The tests also include
an inspection of the space vehicle¡¯s power, computers
and radio communication devices. The recent tests showed the
Huygens Probe is working perfectly. Scientists at the Huygens
Probe Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany studied the results
of the tests.
The Huygens Probe carries many different instruments. One instrument
will measure wind and wind direction as the parachute carries
the Huygens Probe toward the surface of Titan. Other instruments
include special cameras that will send back photographs of the
surface of Titan. The probe also has equipment that will study
and report about the surface of Titan after it lands. It also
carries instruments that will measure different gases in the
atmosphere of the large moon.
The Cassini Spacecraft was launched in October, nineteen-ninety-seven.
It still must travel through space for another two years before
it reaches Saturn.
The Cassini spacecraft and its Huygens Probe will provide information
about an area of our solar system that we know little about.
The information the two spacecraft gather will be shared with
more than two-hundred scientists around the world.
NASA¡¯s Global Surveyor satellite is continuing
to send home extremely good photographs of the planet Mars.
It has sent back more than one-hundred-twelve-thousand images.
The new images were taken between August of two-thousand-one
and January of two-thousand-two. The images show several weather
events including evidence of dust storms on Mars.
One of the images taken by the Global Surveyor is now considered
the best image ever taken of the red planet. The photograph
is of an area called the Newton Basin.
The photograph shows two areas that were made by space objects
hitting the surface of Mars. Another photograph shows frozen
water vapor or frost on the wall of the hole made by the space
object. The photo also shows sand on the surface of Mars.
Scientists hope to use many of these photographs to find good
landing areas for the Mars Exploration Rover. Plans call for
the Rover to be launched next year.
Global Surveyor was launched in November, nineteen-ninety-six
and entered its Martian orbit almost one year later.
The Global Surveyor has now studied all of the Martian surface
and atmosphere. It has returned more information about the red
planet than all other Mars missions combined.
If you have a computer and would like to see many of the Global
Surveyor photographs, have your computer search for the two
words NASA and MARS: N-A-S-A and M-A-R-S.
Don Gurnett is a scientist working at the University of Iowa.
For many years he has placed scientific instruments on many
spacecraft. These include NASA¡¯s Voyagers, Galileo,
Cassini and more than twenty-four other spacecraft. For more
than forty years Mister Gurnett has used instruments to record
the sounds of space.
The sounds he records are created by electric energy in space.
This energy can be heard as radio signals. Listen and you can
hear some of the sounds Mister Gurnett recorded.
(CUT: SPACE SOUNDS)
Recently, musician Terry Riley wrote music using the sounds
of space for the famous string instrument group, the Kronos
Quartet. The new music is called ¡°Sun Rings.¡±
Part of the music is called ¡°Earth Whistlers.¡±
Another is called ¡°Planet Elf Sindoori.¡±
The music was performed for the first time last month at the
University of Iowa¡¯s Hancher Auditorium in Iowa
City, Iowa. The Kronos Quartet has not said if they will record
the unusual music.
This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced
by Caty Weaver. I¡¯m Mary Tillotson.
And I¡¯m Steve Ember. Join us again next week for
EXPLORATIONS, a program in Special English on the Voice of America.
This V-O-A Explorations Report is published
courtesy of VOAnews.com