Hi everybody. Feels like it's been a while since I updated. Then again, it has been a while. As I said in my previous post, summer is traditionally a very quiet time of year for my website, so I don't tend to update much of it. I have been working on a few things behind the scenes (mainly the forthcoming "On this Day" section) and have been playing around with graphics to make them look shiny, but not used the new shiny graphics yet. I added a few new pages: page two of Missions to Mars in the Mars section, and a page about Early Astronomy in the Astronomy section (which I've noticed doesn't have any links to apart from the front page - I'll have to fix that next time I redesign the main navigational panel!). Now that schools are back and visitor numbers tend to increase again, you should see more activity on the site.
So, what's been happening in the world of space over the summer? Water has been confirmed to exist on Mars. The Phoenix lander analysed a sample of soil it had dug up and found out that one of the particles contained in it was water. Scientists at the time claimed that had "touched and tasted" water on Mars which is something of a bold claim seeing as they are sitting comfortably in their science labs on Earth, nowhere near the Martian water! And although they haven't found enough water to quench the thirst of any passing alien, the fact that water does still exist there confims for definite that the planet had a wet history, and greatly increases the chances of life having survived or still suviving there. Ooooh, exciting stuff!
Other events included a space shuttle going to the International Space Station to fix the toilet. That happened in the early part of summer. So, an astronaut onboard the space station called NASA and said, "You know that space shuttle you're sending up to us. Well, can you send up a plumber too?" You can imagine the bill afterwards - "That'll be $40 parts and labour, $1,000,000 call-out fee." Talking of the space shuttle, NASA has announced that it's successor, Orion, won't be ready to fly until at least 2014. The fleet of existing space shuttle are due to be retured in 2010, which leaves a four year gap for manned space travel. Astronauts can hop onboard the Russian Soyuz rockets which also make regular journeys to and from the International Space Station, but there may be a chance that the retirement date of the space shuttle will be put back.
Other news - objects like Pluto, which became known as Dwarf Planets a couple of years ago, may get reclassified as Plutoids. Ceres, an object in the asteroid belt, which also became classified as a Dwarf Planet at the same time as Pluto, may become an asteroid again, seeing as it doesn't really fit in with the Plutoid category. I'll wait until some official announcement before having to change my Pluto section again. Grrrrrr, grumble, grumble.
Hmmmm, that's all I can think of for now, but I'll update again soon now that I'm back from my summer break (I didn't actually go anywhere, I just didn't do anything with my website!) .
Bob the Alien