and Astrophysics
News Highlights

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A look at recent doings in science for students, educators, and anyone interested in our Universe ...
Disclaimer: This webpage is not an official NRAO site, and the views expressed here are wholly my own.

Last update: 28 Jan 2002

Daily Sites:

The Astronomical Picture of the Day
Today @ NASA
Today's Sci-Tech and Space news from CNN
Astronomy and Space news from

Weekly or Occasional:

Sky & Telescope Weekly News Bulletin
HST Press Releases
Chandra Press Releases
NRAO News & Events


I have not updated the news here since summer 2001, and due to the lack of interest, I will not be updating this site further. If anyone would particularly like to have me keep this site running, let me know.

Quick News Items

See also the News Archive.

Future Astronomical Instruments!

Astronomers are now in the midst of planning the projects for the next decade - a Decadal Survey Committee has been convened by the National Academy of Sciences to formulate a prioritized plan, as it has in past decades. New telescopes, instruments, and research programs, and educational initiatives are all part of this ambitious effort. As a guide to the current and proposed astronomical observatories and missions, I have compiled a graphical guide:

The Radio Universe

Since I have just moved from the University of Pennsylvania to NRAO, I thought I would show you something about my new job!

There is more going on in observational astronomy than just what comes out of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Keck Telescopes, and the VLT. In fact, there is much more to astronomy than can be seen at optical and infrared wavelengths. There are a number of space and ground-based astronomical observatories that are brining back spectacular images and fundamental measurements of the "invisible Universe" outside the visible range of light.

The Very Large Array in Socorro, New Mexico courtesy AUI/NRAO

The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and the Very Large Array (VLA) (VLA) are two of the premier radio astronomical instruments in the world. Together, they constitute an American "continental telescope" with the ability to image phenomena from nearby active stars to distant quasars on angular scales ranging from degrees (using the VLA at low frequency) to the unprecedented resolution of a milli-arcsecond or better (using the VLBA at high-frequency)! In fact, in conjunction with VLBI stations around the world and the orbiting HALCA VLBI satellite, radio astronomy has realized the goal of a global or even a trans-global observatory! In the year 2000, the VLA and VLBA will be joined by the mammoth Green Bank Telescope (GBT), a fully steerable 100-meter radio telescope now being constructed in West Virginia.

Of course, radio astronomy itself has a diverse range of science goals. My own research touches on a number of these topics, ranging from study of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, the Compton scattering of the CMB from hot gas in clusters of galaxies, the gravitational lensing of distant quasars by intervening galaxies. Other radio astronomical research tackles problems closer to home, such as the origin of planetary systems, the formation of stars and galaxies, and even the search for extraterrestrial life!

Some NRAO related links of interest:

The Universe According to Hubble

The Orion Nebula with WFPC2 and NICMOS, courtesy STSCI

NASA Planetary Exploration

NASA's Mars Exploration program took two disastrous hits this year with the (likely) loss of both Global Surveyor and Polar Lander. For more on the Mars program, see

The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft was the last spacecraft sucessfully placed into orbit around Mars. As of 6/10/99, MGS had completed 2829 orbits of Mars (1147 mapping orbits), using aerobraking in the thin outer Martian atmosphere to reduce its orbital period from 45 to 11.6 hours (on 6/26/98) and then to the current orbital period of 1.96 hours! Images come back regularly, so see the MGS Home Page for details.

Some of the most recent science images returned include "dust devil" tracks on the Martian desert floor, the volcano Elysium Mons, and the Candor Chasma. Of course, you can find images of the "Face" on Mars which in better lighting looks nothing like a face.

The Namedi Vallis on Mars from MGS.(NASA/JPL)

MGS was the second mission in NASA's ambitious Mars Exploration Program, after the Mars Pathfinder mission landed the Sojourner rover in Ares Vallis this past summer. Over the next 2 years, MGS will map the surface of the Red Planet in preparation for further missions.

Mars, courtesy STSCI

In addition to the Mars probes, there are a number of other NASA planetary exploration missions that are currently active. Here are some links to the major space science missions:

The vulcanized surface of Io, as seen by the Galileo orbiter. (Courtesy NASA/JPL)

The cracked icy surface of Europa, from the Galileo orbiter. (Courtesy NASA/JPL)

Astronomy Links on the Web:

I will forego the obligatory list of astronomy-related links, and instead direct you to some of the more useful compilations of links. Steven T. Myers