Dec 10

SOHO Spots 2000th Comet

Source: NASA Home

SOHO's 2000th comet, spotted by a Polish amateur astronomer on December 26, 2010.
Image Credit: SOHO/Karl Battams

As people on Earth celebrate the holidays and prepare to ring in the New Year, an ESA/NASA spacecraft has quietly reached its own milestone: on December 26, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) discovered its 2000th comet.

Drawing on help from citizen scientists around the world, SOHO has become the single greatest comet finder of all time. This is all the more impressive since SOHO was not specifically designed to find comets, but to monitor the sun.(read more)

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Dec 10

Fisheye from Edge of 'Santa Maria' Crater

Source: NASA Home Image Release

Image credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity gained this view during the 2,459th Martian day, or sol of the rover's work on Mars (Dec. 24, 2010) from the edge of a football-field-size crater informally named "Santa Maria."

This view is the right-eye member of a stereo pair from Opportunity's front hazard-avoidance camera.

The rover's upraised robotic arm, itself out of view, casts a dragon-shaped shadow in the foreground.

Opportunity's viewpoint for this scene is the position reached by a drive on Sol 2454. Drives on sols 2452 and 2454 brought Opportunity a few meters counterclockwise around the western side of the crater from the place where the rover first approached the crater on Sol 2451 (Dec. 16, 2010).

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Dec 10

Brasil will become newest ESO member

Sources: SPA announcement by Teresa Lago  and follow up by ESO Release eso1050

The Brazilian Minister of Science and Technology, Sergio Machado
Rezende (right) and the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw (left)
signing the formal accession agreement.
Image credit: Marcos Freitas/Brazilian Ministry for Science and Technology/ESO

The Extraordinary ESO Council Meeting held last week (by teleconference) the ESO Council has authorized the Director General of ESO to sign the Accession Agreement with Brazil to become the 15th ESO Member State and the 1st out of Europe (Chile is not a member despite the formal relations due to the  location of ESO's major facilities). This is naturally particularly interesting for Portugal as a Member State since Portugal and Brasil have a long lasting cooperation tradition. The Accession is due to take place from 2011 since the Accession Agreement was assigned today.

Furthermore Brazil financial contribution (entrance fee + annual contribution) is decisive for the funding scenario for the E-ELT.

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