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The Shuttle Takes its Leave of the ISS, New Exoplanets Found, and NASA's New Missions

17 Feb 2008, 19:29 UTC
The Shuttle Takes its Leave of the ISS, New Exoplanets Found, and NASA's New Missions
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Today Atlantis closed the hatches to the ISS, the shuttle will undock from the Station on Monday after its nine day visit. The crew just put the final touches on the Columbus module, such as activating all of the science racks, and rushed to pack up the shuttle for the ride home. Flight director Bob Dempsey said he could not be more pleased with Atlantis' visit. The two crews installed the new European lab, Columbus, and conducted three spacewalks to hook it up and do other space station chores. The Atlantis shuttle aims to land at Cape Canaveral on Wednesday.Source: Discovery NewsThursday scientists announced that they have found a solar system containing two planets smaller than Jupiter and Saturn. The planets were discovered with a new technique called microlensing. A microlensing event is when two stars line up perfectly in the sky from our perspective on Earth. The closer star acts as a natural lens, magnifying the light from the more distant star. Normally the distant star just brightens, but in special cases such as this one, there can be additional distortions. These distortions are often caused by the gravity of planets around the star. In this case it was ...

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