An Oasis on the Moon?

As the human race begins the in-situ human exploration of the solar system in the coming decades, one essential ingredient to that journey will be water – not only because it will suggest where alien life might reside, but also because future explorers will need it to survive and prosper.

On Mars, the hunt for water has been intense and, in recent months, extremely encouraging. The most recent discovery was announced Wednesday when European scientists released images from the Mars Express spacecraft – which has been orbiting the red planet since Dec. 25, 2003 – showing what appears to be a frozen sea buried under a layer of volcanic ash near the Martian equator.
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Saving Hubble, Defeating Fear

Of all the items unveiled in NASA’s proposed fiscal year 2006 budget Monday, the decision to eliminate funding for a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope was by far the most controversial.

Yet, though NASA officials now seem adamant and united in their conviction that such a mission — by either humans or robots — is too challenging to achieve, rescuing Hubble is not as complicated or difficult as they would have the public believe.
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A Promising NASA Budget?

Despite fears by many in the scientific community that President George W. Bush’s initiative to re-invigorate the American manned space program would cause deep cuts in NASA’s science budget, the administration’s proposed 2006 budget – announced with great fanfare on Monday – left almost all of the agency’s present science programs in place, while providing increased clarity and focus to its future plans.

Overall, the proposed budget asks Congress for a 2.5 percent increase. This is less than the 5 percent originally called for by Bush last year when he first put forth his new space initiative, but the increase compares quite favorably to the cuts proposed for a significant number of other government programs.
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Turf War Heating Up

A House Science committee hearing on the future of the Hubble Space Telescope illustrates clearly how the battle for NASA money is about to reach critical mass.

The stakes are high, prompting the death of several decades-old NASA programs so that a corresponding number of new projects can see life.

The battle lines are complicated and confused, as different factions realign themselves in ways not seen since the very founding of NASA almost 50 years ago.

At the moment, this war of turf is being fought over whether to send another servicing mission — manned or unmanned — to the Hubble Space Telescope.
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