Frank Kelly Freas, SF/fantasy artist, dies

News Of The WorldRenowned SF artist (and 11-time Hugo winner) Frank Kelly Freas dies at the age of 82. Perhaps best known to the general public for his painted cover art that adorned Mad Magazine from 1955 through 1962, “Kelly” Freas painted the cover art for such pulp SF magazines as Planet Stories, Science Fiction Quarterly, Weird Tales and especially Analog, to which he contributed cover art many times over five decades. He painted book covers for the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Joe Haldeman, A.E. Van Vogt, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Frederik Pohl, Poul Anderson and Ursula Le Guin, among others. He was commissioned by the crew of the first Skylab mission to design their mission patch, and painted the cover of the hit album News Of The World for the rock group Queen.

Voyager 2 at 10000

Voyager 2Launched ahead of its identical twin, Voyager 1, in 1977, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft surpasses its 10,000th day in deep space. At 11 billion miles from Earth, Voyager 2 is one of the most distant human-made objects in space, surpassed only by Voyager 1. Both Voyagers are expected to function well into the 2020s, and are expected to have left the solar system to enter interstellar space by then.

Eris

ErisAstronomers at Palomar Observatory discover a body beyond Neptune’s orbit that initial observations show is larger than Pluto. Eris is quickly dubbed the tenth planet by the media and the scientific community, and it is later found to have a small moon of its own in a close orbit, which is later named Dysnomia. But events overtake Eris and Dysnomia before the science textbooks have a chance to be rewritten to include a tenth planet: Eris becomes a case study in an ongoing debate within the International Astronomical Union about the definition of a planet. In 2006, the IAU will establish a set of parameters which determine that Eris isn’t a planet – and then rewrites the history books by deciding that Pluto isn’t either.

Launching Deep Impact

Deep Impact launchAfter months of delays in development of its elaborate guidance software system, NASA’s Deep Impact unmanned space probe is launched on a mission to intercept, and fire an impactor into, Comet Tempel 1 half a year later. In order to catch up with the comet, Deep Impact is lofted into orbit by a Delta II rocket, which puts the spacecraft on a precise course at a speed of roughly 64,000mph. Deep Impact will fire the impactor into the comet in July to study the distribution and composition of the debris scattered by the resulting impact.

Huygens: first space probe to land on Titan

TitanThe European Space Agency’s Huygens probe successfully lands on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, gathering measurements and taking mind-boggling images from the sky all the way down to the surface. Perhaps the biggest discovery of the initial pictures is an aerial view of what appear to be tributaries leading to a large body of liquid – an almost delta-like region as viewed from the sky. (Thanks to Titan’s thick atmospheric haze, its surface has never before been seen.) Huygens itself manages to touch down on dry land, on a plain scattered with chunks of ice, slowed to only 15 miles per hour by parachutes during its descent (despite upper-level winds estimated at around 300mph). Even if Huygens had splashed down in a body of liquid, the probe is designed to stay afloat.

Star Trek: Enterprise cancelled

EnterpriseCiting declining ratings, UPN and Paramount announce that Star Trek: Enterprise‘s current season – its fourth – will be its last. The last episode will be shot in March. At 97 episodes (the network’s press release says 98, as Paramount typically counts the two-hour series premiere in 2001 as two shows), Enterprise is the shortest Star Trek spinoff since the original Star Trek was cancelled after three seasons in the 1960s. David Stapf, President of Paramount Network Television, says in a statement, “All of us at Paramount warmly bid goodbye to Enterprise, and we all look forward to a new chapter of this enduring franchise in the future,” though the cancellation marks the first time since 1987 that there is been no new Star Trek in production for TV; at least one spinoff has been in production continuously for 18 years, resulting in 619 episodes (seven of them two-hour TV movies) and four spinoff-based feature films. Another movie, the eleventh in the franchise’s history, is reportedly moved to the back burner by Paramount.

More on Star Trek: Enterprise in the LogBook

Doctor Who returns… a bit too early

Doctor WhoWeeks before its intended premiere date, the first episode of the revived Doctor Who arrives early, via a rough edit leaked to internet filesharing services. Eventually traced to a real preview copy in the hands of a Canadian broadcaster, the episode is missing the new version of the theme music, but is otherwise mostly complete. The BBC tracks down the source of the leak, all while realizing that fandom is now capable of acquiring more than just advance episode titles and photos early.