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NASA Year 1999 in Review NASA 1999:
Discoveries and
Are a Taste of
What's to Come
in Next Century
Hubble's Expanding Universe. Planet Orbiting Pair of Stars. 3-D Map of Mars. Gamma Ray Bursts. Female Shuttle Commander. Space Shuttle Docks at International Space Station. Chandra X-Ray Observatory. X-34 Rocket Plane. Terra Earth Observing Satellite.

Hubble Illuminates the Rate of Expansion of the Universe

After eight years of painstaking measurement, Hubble scientists found a value for how fast the Universe is expanding. The rate of expansion, called the Hubble Constant, is essential to determining the age and size of the Universe. Measuring Hubble's constant was one of the three major goals for the Hubble Space Telescope when it was launched in 1990.

Learn more about the Hubble Constant

Astronomers Find Evidence of a Planet Orbiting a Pair of Stars

Astronomers funded by NASA witnessed, for the first time, a distant planet passing in front of its star, providing direct and independent confirmation of the existence of extrasolar planets. Previously, those had been inferred only from the wobble of their star.

Learn more about extrasolar planets

Mars Global Surveyor Photographs First Global 3-D Map of Mars

An impact basin deep enough to swallow Mount Everest and surprising slopes in Valles Marineris highlight a global map of Mars that will influence scientific understanding of the Red Planet for years. Generated by the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) aboard the Mars Global Surveyor in orbit around Mars, the high-resolution map represents 27 million measurements gathered in 1998 and 1999.

Learn more about the global map of Mars

Gamma Ray Burst Photographed for the First Time

Astronomers racing the clock managed to take the first-ever optical images of one of the most powerful explosions in the Universe -- a gamma ray burst -- just as it was occurring on Jan. 23, 1999. Such bursts occur with no warning and typically last only a few seconds.

Learn more about gamma ray bursts

First Female Shuttle Commander

U.S. space shuttle Columbia's 26th flight, July 22-27, 1999, was led by Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a shuttle mission. STS-93 successfully ferried to orbit the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the third of NASA's Great Observatories in Space. Chandra joined the Hubble Space Telescope and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory in orbit around Earth.

Learn more about Eileen Collins
Learn more about shuttle flight STS-93

First Docking of Space Shuttle at the International Space Station

U.S. space shuttle flight STS-96 was the four-million-mile journey of Discovery, from May 27 to June 6, 1999. The crew performed the first shuttle docking with the International Space Station and delivered more than 3,600 pounds of supplies -- ranging from food and clothes to laptop computers -- for the first crew to live on the station in the year 2000.

Learn more about shuttle flight STS-96

New Technology Will Help Planes Land More Safely in Bad Weather

NASA and industry partners developed new technology so planes can land safely in bad weather on parallel runways spaced as closely as 2,500 feet apart. Airports where this new approach, which expands on existing communication and navigation technology, could improve on-time arrivals are Detroit, Seattle, Minneapolis and Memphis.

Learn more about planes landing in bad weather

Chandra X-Ray Observatory Begins Work

After barely two months in space, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in September snapped a stunning image of the Crab Nebula, the most intensively studied object beyond our Solar System. The picture revealed something never seen before -- a brilliant ring around the nebula's heart. Chandra is the third of NASA's four Great Observatories in Space.

Learn more about the Chandra X-ray Observatory

X-34 Rocket Plane Taken to the Sky for Safety Checks

Locked to the belly of a newly modified L-1011 carrier aircraft, a test version of NASA's X-34 rocket plane made its first flight in June 1999 as part of a certification process. The prototype of the robotic spacecraft will test new technologies and methods of operations needed to develop low-cost reusable space vehicles.

Learn more about the X-34 rocket plane

Terra, Flagship of NASA's Earth Observing System, Launched

On the eve of the millennium, the Earth Observing System satellite Terra was launched into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The major satellite enables new research into the ways that Earth's land, oceans, air, ice and life interact as a whole climate system.

Learn more about the Terra satellite

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