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DailyTech's middle of the month International Space Update, March 2007 edition

NASA is headed for a "train wreck" if the U.S. space agency is unable to get better funding to help finish construction of the International Space Station, according to Bart Gordon, chairman of the U.S. House science committee.  NASA also is unable to secure proper funding to find killer asteroids by 2020.  Also happening today at the Capitol, other representatives attempted to give NASA a $1 billion budget raise.  NASA has a $17.3 billion tentative budget for 2008.  

"I think it's clear that we have a budgetry situation that bears little resemblance to the rosy projections offered by the administration... a vision that is now increasingly blurred," Gordon said.

NASA reported that the Cassini spacecraft has discovered what appears to be large lakes and seas on the surface of Titan, one of Saturn's moons.  The images were taken on Feb. 22, and reveal that the largest is around 39,000 square miles -- larger than any North American Great Lake.  Their minimum size is the only key feature because the radar on Cassini has only been able to observer a portion of the features.    

Astronomers initially believed the entire surface of Titan was a global ocean, but Cassini helped prove that wrong.  It is unknown if the seas contain liquid, but initial radar observations indicate that liquid is likely present.

Researchers studying information gathered by NASA's Spirit space rover are interested in some bright Martian soil that contains high amounts of sulfur and traces of water.  "This material could have been left behind by water that dissolved these minerals underground, then came to the surface and evaporated, or it could be a volcanic deposit formed around ancient gas vents," said Dr. Ray Arvidson of Washington University, St. Louis.  Arvisdon is the deputy principal investigator for the NASA's Spirit and Opportunity space rovers.

It will ultimately take some time before researchers are able to figure out which hypothesis is correct -- the discovery of the correct hypothesis, however, will give further insight into the Columbia Hills region of the Red Planet.




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