Earth from space banner

home > space & science news > space & science news: August 2004: 1 | 2 | 3

Socialites unite dolphin groups
(Aug 12, 2004)

Dolphin groups, or "pods" rely on socialites to keep them together, scientists have claimed. Without these individuals, the cohesion of the dolphin group falls apart, researchers have discovered. The finding may mean that capturing wild dolphins or killer whales for marine parks could have a serious impact on their companions left behind. Details of the study, by a UK and US research team, are outlined in New Scientist magazine.

Read more. Source: BBC

solar sail being deployed
First space test for solar sailing
(Aug 11, 2004)

A delicate material that could let spacecraft reach distant planets by harnessing the Sun's rays has been unfurled successfully in space for the first time. The Japanese Institute of Space Astronautical Science tested two solar sail deployments launched aboard an S-310 rocket (image is of deployment from anboard camera) on 9 August. It is the first time a solar sail deployment has ever been tested in space. By reflecting photons from Sun, the metallic solar sails should theoretically receive momentum in the opposite direction to propel a spacecraft forward. By gliding along, building up ever more speed, spacecraft should be able to reach distant space targets in record time.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Chances of aliens finding Earth disappearing
(Aug 10, 2004)

A pioneer of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has warned that for any intelligent aliens trying to search for us, "the Earth is going to disappear" very soon. Frank Drake's point, made at a SETI workshop at Harvard University on Friday, is that television services are increasingly being delivered by technologies that do not leak radio frequencies into space. But he added that in some ways the observation is good news for SETI, as it means that the failure of Earth-based observers to detect aliens so far may be less worrisome than it would otherwise seem.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Orgueil meteorite
Fossilized - or even present-day - alien bacteria?
(Aug 9, 2004)

Several lines of evidence have been put forward over the past couple of weeks suggesting that colonies of bacteria once lived – and may still live on Mars and elsewhere beyond Earth. David McKay, chief of astrobiology at the Johnson Space Center, argues the possibility that the strange wrinkling of the surface soil produced when the Mars Rover airbags were retracted may point to fossilized remains of a biological mat (see article). Meanwhile another NASA scientist, Richard Hoover, presented microphotographs of the Orgueil meteorite (shown here) at the recent SPIE conference in Denver, which appear to show fossilized traces indistinguishable from those left by cyanobacteria on Earth (see Finally, and most importantly, there is the tantalizing discovery of methane and ammonia in the Martian atmosphere, most easily (but not necessarily) explained by the presence of microorganisms on or below the surface.

Cassini detecting lightning on Saturn
Erratic 'superbolts' of lightning seen on Saturn
(Aug 8, 2004)

"Superbolts" of lightning burst in erratic thunderstorms on Saturn, reveals new data from the Cassini spacecraft, challenging previous observations of static storms. The orbiting spacecraft has observed unpredictable storm patterns, not observed by Voyager more than 20 years ago. Cassini has also revealed a new radiation belt just above the planetís cloud tops – far closer than any previously observed radiation belts around the ringed planet. Lightning produces radio emissions as well as visible light, and in 1980 and 1981, NASA's two Voyager spacecraft each spent a few days listening to Saturn's storms during flybys. The storms seemed eerily unchanging, firing off the same number of lightning bursts as they whipped around the planet every 10 hours.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

new species of angler fish
New ocean species discovered
(Aug 7, 2004)

Scientists exploring the depths of the mid-Atlantic ridge were excited to uncover a wealth of new species, including a bright red squid. The two-month long, Norwegian-led expedition is part of the international Census of Marine Life. The 10-year census, which began in 2000, aims to record all known marine life, in an aquatic "Doomsday Book". The latest study used deep-sea probes to explore the undersea mountain ridge, running between Iceland and the Azores.

Read more. Source: BBC

Wild Fire rocket
Second team goes for space prize
(Aug 6, 2004)

A Canadian team has said it will challenge SpaceShipOne for the Ansari X-Prize by sending its privately-funded craft to space on 2 October. The da Vinci Project is vying with Burt Rutan's craft, and 23 other teams, to win the $10m (£5.7m) prize. It rewards the first team to send a non-government, three-person craft over 100km into space, and repeat the feat in the same craft in two weeks. The da Vinci team publicly unveiled its spacecraft, Wild Fire VI, in Toronto.

Read more. Source: BBC

Olympus Mons
Red Planet had 'recent' volcanism
(Aug 5, 2004)

Mars appears to have been volcanically active more recently than previously supposed, according to growing evidence from Europe's Mars Express orbiter. New estimates suggest volcanoes could have been active between one million years ago and 20 million years ago, but more work is needed to refine the dates Previous spacecraft data suggested that volcanism on Mars ceased some time around 600-500 million years ago. Some researchers even speculate Mars could be volcanically active today.

Read more. Source: BBC

model of a gamma-ray burster
Solar system may be exception not rule
(Aug 5, 2004)

Although many more planets are being discovered outside the solar system, none of them looks anything like our own planets. And it is possible that they formed in a completely different way, making our planetary system rather unique. In the traditional model of planet formation, the dust in a disc of gas around a star gradually clumps together into rocks, which eventually merge to make planetary cores. The cores then accumulate gaseous atmospheres. In this model, gas giants such as Jupiter form in the relatively cooler outskirts of the system. But this model does not fully explain the formation of the 110 or so extrasolar planets that have been discovered in the past decade.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

model of a gamma-ray burster
ESA's Integral detects closest cosmic gamma-ray burst
(Aug 5, 2004)

A gamma-ray burst detected by ESA's Integral gamma-ray observatory on 3 December 2003 has been thoroughly studied for months by an armada of space and ground-based observatories. Astronomers have now concluded that this event, called GRB 031203, is the closest cosmic gamma-ray burst on record, but also the faintest. This also suggests that an entire population of sub-energetic gamma-ray bursts has so far gone unnoticed.

Read more. Source: European Space Agency

Titan's haze layers
Cassini peers into Titan's haze
(Aug 4, 2004)

The Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn has peered closer at the moon Titan to reveal two thin, outer layers of haze high in its atmosphere. Mission scientists say observations like this one will help them understand how the murky haze around Titan forms. Cassini will release its piggybacked Huygens probe on to Titan in December. The haze has long hindered scientists in their understanding of the surface of this large Saturnian moon, which could harbour oceans of hydrocarbons.

Read more. Source: BBC

Space probe blasts off to Mercury
(Aug 3, 2004)

The Mercury Messenger probe, which will conduct a detailed investigation of the first planet from the Sun, has launched successfully. The spacecraft blasted off just before 0616 GMT on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida, US, aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket for a seven-year journey. It is the first US mission to Mercury for more than 30 years. After arriving in 2011, the probe will orbit Mercury for a year to explore its atmosphere, composition and structure.

Read more. Source: BBC

Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter
NASA's new space hot rod
(Aug 2, 2004)

To send astronauts back to the moon, NASA is planning to begin by making maximum use of existing U.S. and foreign rockets as launching systems. Vehicles under consideration may use updated propulsion systems that could blast a flotilla of spacecraft from the Earth to the vicinity of the moon. For voyages of longer duration, however – to Mars and possibly even more distant destinations – NASA is designing a whole new system for both space propulsion and space power.

Read more. Source: Space Daily / UPI

1 | 2 | 3


You are here:

> Space & Science news
> August 2004:
1 | 2 | 3

Other news sections

Latest science news
Archeo news
Eco news
Health news
Living world news
Paleo news
Strange news
Tech news

Also on this site:

Encyclopedia of Science

Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living

News archive