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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: July 2004
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SETI
ET first contact 'within 20 years'
(Jul 22, 2004)


If intelligent life exists elsewhere in our galaxy, advances in computer processing power and radio telescope technology will ensure we detect their transmissions within two decades. That is the bold prediction from a leading light at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in Mountain View, California. Seth Shostak, the SETI Institute's senior astronomer, based his prediction on accepted assumptions about the likelihood of alien civilisations existing, combined with projected increases in computing power. Shostak, whose calculations will be published in a forthcoming edition of the space science journal Acta Astronautica, first estimated the number of alien civilisations in our galaxy that might currently be broadcasting radio signals.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

martian meteorite
New martian meteorite found in Antarctica
(Jul 22, 2004)


While rovers and orbiting spacecraft scour Mars searching for clues to its past, researchers have uncovered another piece of the red planet in the most inhospitable place on Earth - Antarctica. The new specimen was found by a field party from the U.S. Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) on Dec. 15, 2003, on an ice field in the Miller Range of the Transantarctic Mountains, roughly 750 km (466 miles) from the South Pole. This 715.2-gram (1.6-pound) black rock, officially designated MIL 03346, was one of 1358 meteorites collected by ANSMET during the 2003-2004 austral summer.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now / NASA

black hole
Black holes turned 'inside out'
(Jul 21, 2004)


Stephen Hawking has put forward a new theory that changes the way scientists view black holes, saying he was wrong about them in the past. The physicist told a conference on gravitation in Dublin that he has revised his belief that black holes destroy everything that falls on them. He now believes that black holes may allow information to get out. His new research could even help solve the "black hole information paradox", a crucial puzzle for modern physics.

Read more. Source: BBC

Saturn
Puzzling differences in Jupiter and Saturn
(Jul 21, 2004)


Scientists aren't sure what the interiors of Jupiter and Saturn look like or how the planets formed. But a new study of their insides suggests they took different paths to giant status. Researchers modeled 50,000 what-ifs of internal structure using real data from the two planets and lab experiments that show how material behaves under extreme pressure. They found Saturn has a huge core and Jupiter may have none. "Heavy elements are concentrated in Saturn's massive core, while those same elements are mixed throughout Jupiter, with very little or no central core at all," said Didier Saumon of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Read more. Source: CNN/space.com

razorback
Mars rover finds that water persisted
(Jul 20, 2004)


Surface water on Mars existed across a significant span of time, not just for years but eons, suggest new findings made by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity. Within a few weeks of its landing on Mars in January 2004, Opportunity revealed what was uppermost on the twin rovers' agenda: that bodies of liquid water once existed on the surface of Mars. But the evidence proved what could have been only a solitary event – a single wet episode. The new discovery, reported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, pushes the boundaries significantly further back, into geological timescales. After motoring down several metres into a the large Endurance crater, Opportunity has found what science team member Jack Farmer of Arizona State University calls "razorback," a ridge of thin, jagged vertical plates sticking up at the edge of a flat expanse of bedrock.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Iapetus
Photos show two-faced Saturn moon
(Jul 19, 2004)


The international Cassini spacecraft has taken new images of Saturn's two-faced moon Iapetus, possibly offering clues to why the moon has a dark hemisphere and another that is bright, scientists said Thursday. Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory hope Cassini's observations of the mysterious moon help determine where the dark material comes from. The spacecraft took pictures of Iapetus at a distance of 1.8 million miles on July 3, a few days after Cassini entered orbit around Saturn.

Source: CNN

MESSENGER
NASA set to revisit Mercury
(Jul 18, 2004)


The US space agency is set to launch a spacecraft to Mercury on 2 August, its first visit to the planet in 30 years. The plan is to put the probe in an orbit around the heavy-metal planet to map its entire surface, study its geology and look for frozen water. The MESSENGER spacecraft will make a seven-year journey that loops around Earth and Venus to get to Mercury. The last NASA craft sent to the planet was Mariner 10 which sailed past the world three times in 1974 and 1975.

Read more. Source: BBC

rangeomorph
Fractal patterns of early life revealed
(Jul 16, 2004)


Newly uncovered fossils reveal in extraordinary clarity the strangeness of the Earth's earliest complex life. The finds show that the organisms were assembled in fractal patterns from frond-like building blocks. They were unable to move and had no reproductive organs, perhaps reproducing by dropping off new fronds. The creatures, which were neither animals or plants, are called "rangeomorphs". They first appeared on the ocean floor 575 million years ago, after the last global glaciation, and were among the first of the soft-bodied creatures in the Ediacaran period.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Mars
Ammonia on Mars could mean life
(Jul 15, 2004)


Ammonia may have been found in Mars' atmosphere which some scientists say could indicate life on the Red Planet. Researchers say its spectral signature has been tentatively detected by sensors onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft. Ammonia survives for only a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be getting constantly replenished. There are two possible sources: either active volcanoes, none of which have been found yet on Mars, or microbes.

Read more. Source: BBC

Super-Kamiokande
Neutrinos 'topple matter theory'
(Jul 15, 2004)


A study involving the world's largest underground tank of water has concluded neutrino particles are a mystery. Neutrinos do not interact very much with matter, but they can be detected as flashes of light in the 50,000-tonne Super-Kamiokande detector in Japan. Many of them come from the Sun while others are formed in the Earth's atmosphere by cosmic ray impacts. The new data confirms that they change as they travel through space which is contrary to current theories of matter.

Read more. Source: BBC

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