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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: April 2004
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Opportunity main mission complete Apr 30, 2004
Molecular rings could shelter Venus bugs Apr 29, 2004
Super-hot star caught in death throes Apr 29, 2004
Fewer females wiped out dinosaurs Apr 28, 2004
New Moon mineral found Apr 27, 2004
Spying the surface of Titan Apr 26, 2004
NASA optimistic about Hubble fate Apr 25, 2004
Early life thrived in lava flows Apr 23, 2004
'Weird' meteorite may be from Mars moon Apr 22, 2004
Soyuz docks with space station Apr 21, 2004
Dust storms may bedevil Mars explorers Apr 21, 2004
Gravity B probe successfully launched Apr 20, 2004
Comet destroyed in stellar crash Apr 20, 2004
Opportunity dashes 140 meters Apr 19, 2004
British scientists seek alien worlds Apr 18, 2004
Star Trek communicator ready to go Apr 17, 2004
Mars rover finds rock like meteorites that fell to Earth Apr 17, 2004
Cosmic magnifying glass finds distant planet Apr 16, 2004
Cave yields 'earliest jewellery' Apr 15, 2004
Big Bang glow hints at funnel-shaped Universe Apr 15, 2004
Runaway stars may solve black hole riddle Apr 15, 2004
Memory bottleneck limits intelligence Apr 15, 2004
Invisible giants exposed in new Spitzer image Apr 14, 2004
Sedna has no moon say puzzled astronomers Apr 14, 2004
Trilobite was ancient snack food Apr 14, 2004
With tiny brain implants, just thinking may make it so Apr 13, 2004
Turin Shroud 'shows second face' Apr 13, 2004
Barren Siberia may be original home of animal life Apr 13, 2004
Mars life-detection experiment being developed Apr 13, 2004
Stunning new views from Mars Express Apr 12, 2004
NASA ponders yearlong space missions Apr 11, 2004
Dark matter 'found within decade' Apr 10, 2004
Probe sees storms merge on Saturn Apr 10, 2004
Twin Mars Exploration Rovers set for extended encore Apr 9, 2004
Private spaceflight draws closer Apr 8, 2004
Asteroid protection plan proposed Apr 8, 2004
Milky Way past was more turbulent than previously thought Apr 8, 2004
Telescopes take close-up of Titan Apr 7, 2004
Solar wind sampler seals its scoops Apr 7, 2004
Spirit rover finishes main mission Apr 6, 2004
Astronomy study reveals ancient places of healing Apr 6, 2004
Lunar base options divide experts Apr 5, 2004
Satellite to test Einstein predictions Apr 5, 2004
Strange sound is heard again by space station crew Apr 4, 2004
Ancient builders followed stars Apr 3, 2004
Fossil arm holds evolutionary secrets Apr 3, 2004
Spirit finds multi-layer hints of past water at Gusev site Apr 2, 2004
Double whammy link to extinctions Apr 1, 2004
'Fifty planets' could have life Apr 1, 2004


MER pancam
Opportunity main mission complete
(Apr 30, 2004)


The US space agency's robotic Mars explorer Opportunity has completed 90 days on the Red Planet, bringing its primary mission to an end. But Opportunity is not finished yet: the rover will carry on investigating the Red Planet for at least another 240 sols, or Martian days. The rover has uncovered evidence that its landing site was once the shoreline of a salty lake or sea. Its "twin", Spirit, passed the 90 sol landmark earlier this month. Opportunity is exploring Meridiani Planum, a flat plain rich in the mineral grey haematite – which usually forms in water. "We have full mission success on the project," said mission manager Matt Wallace. "It's a remarkable milestone."

Read more. Source: BBC

Venus
Molecular rings could shelter Venus bugs
(Apr 29, 2004)


The idea that microbes may be alive and well in Venus's clouds is controversial. But some scientists are becoming more convinced that microorganisms could survive, thanks to the shelter from ultraviolet radiation provided by molecular rings of sulphur. Venus might once have been warm and wet, and a potential breeding ground for life, but at some point a runaway greenhouse effect dried the planet out and heated its surface to more than 480C. A few scientists have argued that if Venus's climate change was slow enough for life to adapt, microbes could survive there today, living in acidic clouds at altitudes of about 50 kilometres. The temperature there is only about 50 to 70C – conditions some terrestrial microbes can endure.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Bug Nebula
Super-hot star caught in death throes
(Apr 29, 2004)


The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged the death throes of a searingly hot, Sun-like star that has cast off its outer layers in a form resembling the opalescent wings of a giant butterfly. Gas in the Bug Nebula, officially called NGC 6302, is being ionised by an unseen star – one of the hottest known – at the intersection of the wings. Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 made this composite image from exposures of ionised hydrogen and nitrogen in the nebula. The gas is expanding outward, rippling into finger shapes where it collides with slower-moving gas. But what excites astronomers most is not the shimmer of the wings but a dark band that bisects them. A dense ring of gas and dust girdles and obscures the dying star and contains most of the star's ejected gas.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

dinosaur extinction event
Fewer females wiped out dinosaurs
(Apr 28, 2004)


Too many males may have been the reason the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, say Leeds University scientists. They believe the dinosaurs could have been like modern-day reptiles such as crocodiles whose sex depends upon the temperature before they are born. The idea is that the asteroid which struck changed the world's climate, causing it to be cooler and leading to the birth of a preponderance of males. The male-female imbalance would have led to the dinosaurs' extinction.

Read more. Source: BBC

lunar crater
New Moon mineral found
(Apr 27, 2004)


Scientists say a new lunar mineral has been found in a meteorite from the Moon that crashed to Earth in 2000. The mineral is called hapkeite after the scientist Bruce Hapke who predicted the existence of the iron and silicon compound on the Moon 30 years ago. Hapkeite is probably made when tiny particles impact the Moon at very high speeds, say Mahesh Anand and colleagues Their investigation of meteorite Dhofar 280 is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read more. Source: BBC

Titan
Spying the surface of Titan
(Apr 26, 2004)


New images of unsurpassed clarity have been obtained with the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) of formations on the surface of Titan, the largest moon in the Saturnian system. They were made by an international research team during recent commissioning observations with the "Simultaneous Differential Imager (SDI)", a novel optical device, just installed at the NACO Adaptive Optics instrument. The images show a number of surface regions with very different reflectivity. Of particular interest are several large "dark" areas of uniformly low reflectivity. One possible interpretation is that they represent huge surface reservoirs of liquid hydrocarbons.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now/ESO

Hubble Space Telescope
NASA optimistic about Hubble fate
(Apr 25, 2004)


A robotic rescue mission to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope may be feasible, according to NASA's Associate Administrator, Dr Ed Weiler. In January, the US space agency said there would be no more risky astronaut visits to the telescope, which would probably limit its life to a few years. But Dr Weiler says there are now some promising ideas about how Hubble could be visited without the space shuttle. A small spacecraft could be built to attach itself to Hubble, he believes. "There is a lot of optimism about the robotic possibilities," Dr Weiler told BBC News Online. He added that NASA should be able to be more definitive about the options in June.

Read more. Source: BBC

burrows in volcanic rock
Early life thrived in lava flows
(Apr 23, 2004)


Geologists have discovered microscopic burrows where some of Earth's earliest lifeforms bored their way into volcanic glass 3.5 billion years ago. The tubes, from rocks in South Africa's Barberton Greenstone Belt, retain traces of organic carbon left behind by the microorganisms, the authors say. The microbes etched their way into rocks that formed as lava oozed out across a sea floor in Archaean times. An international team published details of the work in the journal Science.

Read more. Source: BBC

Phobos
'Weird' meteorite may be from Mars moon
(Apr 22, 2004)


A unique meteorite that fell on a Soviet military base in Yemen in 1980 may have come from one of the moons of Mars. Several meteorites from the Red Planet have been found on Earth, but this could be the only piece of Martian moon rock. Andrei Ivanov, who is based at the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry in Moscow, Russia, spent two decades puzzling over the fist-sized Kaidun meteorite before he decided that it must be a chip off Phobos, the larger of the two Martian moons. "I can't find a better candidate," Ivanov told New Scientist. The Kaidun meteorite is like no other in the world – and 23,000 of them have been catalogued. It is made of many small chunks of material, including minerals never seen before.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Soyuz docks with ISS
Soyuz docks with space station
(Apr 21, 2004)


A Russian spacecraft carrying a Russian-American-Dutch crew has docked smoothly with the international space station. The Soyuz TM-4, working on autopilot, docked three minutes ahead of schedule at 9:01 a.m. local time, approximately two days after blasting off on a rocket from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Carrying three astronauts, it was the third Russian spacecraft to fill in for the U.S. space shuttle, which has been suspended since the Columbia disaster.

Source: CNN/AP

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