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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: June 2004
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Sneakiest primates have biggest brains Jun 30, 2004
Mars scientists marvel at mysterious rock formation Jun 27, 2004
NASA looks to streamline agency Jun 25, 2004
Cassini team finds Phoebe may be kin to comets Jun 24, 2004
'Birth cry' of the cosmos heard Jun 23, 2004
Ultra-cool diminutive star weighs in Jun 23, 2004
'Anomalies' in first private spaceflight revealed Jun 22, 2004
Private craft makes space history Jun 21, 2004
'Blazar' illuminates era when stars and galaxies formed Jun 21, 2004
Wild 2 comet unlike any other Jun 18, 2004
Spirit rover sights 'blueberries' Jun 17, 2004
Octopuses have a preferred arm Jun 15, 2004
Saturn's moon Phoebe revealed in stunning detail Jun 14, 2004
Space rock smashes into New Zeland home Jun 13, 2004
China had first complex machines Jun 11, 2004
Greatest maths problem 'solved' Jun 11, 2004
'Doggie, speak' has new meaning in language study Jun 11, 2004
Record ice core gives fair forecast Jun 10, 2004
Black hole illuminates dust cloud Jun 9, 2004
Crater risk to rover 'worth it' Jun 8, 2004
Satellite images 'show Atlantis' Jun 7, 2004
Extrasolar planet hunters eye Venus transit Jun 7, 2004
Proof found for gamma-ray burst in Milky Way Jun 5, 2004
Fossils hint at early complexity Jun 4, 2004
Meteorite turned Earth inside out Jun 4, 2004
Mars rover Spirit nears hills as Opportunity probes crater Jun 4, 2004
Robots to rescue Hubble Telescope Jun 3, 2004
Date set for private space launch Jun 3, 2004
Probe positions for Saturn orbit Jun 2, 2004
Black holes multiply in new observations Jun 1, 2004


chimpanzee
Sneakiest primates have biggest brains
(Jun 30, 2004)


Monkeys and apes who are good at deceiving their peers also have the biggest brains relative to their body size. The finding backs the "Machiavellian intelligence" theory, which suggests the benefits of complex social skills fuelled the evolution of large primate brains. Of all the terrestrial mammals, primates have by far the largest brains relative to their body size, with humans having the largest of all. The enlargement is almost exclusively in the neocortex, which makes up more than 80% of the mass of the human brain. Large brains, despite being energetically costly, benefited primates because they conferred complex cognitive skills. But which skills were the priority - was it clever food-finding strategies that were most valuable, for example, or complex social skills?

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Endurance crater rocks
Mars scientists marvel at mysterious rock formation
(Jun 27, 2004)


NASA's two Mars rovers, well past their 90-day prime missions, have entered a dramatic new phase of exploration. On one side of the planet, Opportunity is working its way down a steep slope into Endurance Crater, slowly creeping back in time as it discovers older and clearly different type rocks (see photo). Evidence is mounting that shallow seas once pooled in this region, periodically drying out and reforming. "Everything we see is completely compatible with very shallow water, wetting and drying, you have enough water to wade around in or something and it evaporates away and maybe that happens over and over and over again," said project scientist Steve Squyres. On the other side of Mars, Spirit has found one of the strangest rocks discovered to date, one that defies easy explanation. But it contains high levels of hematite, a compound that can form in the presence of water.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now / CBS

Moon base
NASA looks to streamline agency
(Jun 25, 2004)


NASA's vision to explore the moon and Mars moved forward Thursday with a restructuring effort to streamline the agency's bureaucracy and support an independent private space industry. Sean O'Keefe, NASA's chief, announced the plan to remake NASA into a "sustainable and affordable" organization that was once-again renowned for its innovation, courage and entrepreneurial spirit. O'Keefe said NASA has to ensure "not just an invitation to collaborate, but a necessity to collaborate" with the private sector. Aerospace companies are expected to assume many non-manned space responsibilities as NASA turns its attention to the moon and Mars.

Read more. Source: CNN

Phoebe
Cassini team finds Phoebe may be kin to comets
(Jun 24, 2004)


Scientists may at last have settled the debate on the origin of Saturn's moon, Phoebe. Saturn long ago captured its largest outermost satellite, Phoebe, when the moon wandered in from the frigid region beyond the orbit of Neptune called the Kuiper belt, they conclude. The scientists analyzed results from the Cassini Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer taken during the June 11 Cassini spacecraft's Phoebe flyby.

Read more. Source: Space Daily / JPL

microwave background
'Birth cry' of the cosmos heard
(Jun 23, 2004)


Astronomers have recaptured the sounds of the early Universe showing it was born not with a bang but a quiet whisper that became a dull roar. Mark Whittle of the University of Virginia has analysed the so-called background radiation that was born 400,000 years after the Big Bang. Ripples in the radiation are like sound waves bouncing through the cosmos. Over the first million years the music of the cosmos changed from a bright major chord to a sombre minor one.

Read more. Source: BBC

dwarf star
Ultra-cool diminutive star weighs in
(Jun 23, 2004)


The power of the some of the world's biggest telescopes has been brought to bear to directly measure the mass, for the first time, of one of the smallest stars ever seen in the universe. Barely the size of the planet Jupiter, the dwarf star weighs in at just 8.5 percent of the mass of our Sun. This is the first ever mass measurement of an L-type dwarf star belonging to a new stellar class of very low mass objects in space discovered just a few years ago. The observation is a major step toward our understanding of the types of objects that occupy the gap between Sun-like stars and planets. (Artwork of a dim dwarf)

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now / STScI

Mike Melvill aboard SpaceShipOne
'Anomalies' in first private spaceflight revealed
(Jun 22, 2004)


The flight of the first private astronaut was not as perfect as it first appeared – a number of glitches occurred during the flight, some potentially catastrophic. The revelations were made by Burt Rutan, designer of SpaceShipOne, which on Monday became the world's first privately funded craft to enter space. Until the team fully understands exactly what went wrong during the flight, he said, they will not go ahead with the pair of flights needed to claim the $10 million Ansari X-Prize. Luckily, the glitches did not prevent a successful flight. But pilot Mike Melvill said that a partial failure of the system controlling the spacecraft's orientation could have been disastrous if it had occurred just slightly earlier in the flight.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

SpaceShipOne lands
Private craft makes space history
(Jun 21, 2004)


SpaceShipOne has rocketed into the history books to become the first private manned spacecraft to fly to the edge of space and back. The craft, built by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, went over space's 100km (62 mile) boundary, said mission control. It was carried to 50,000ft (15km) by its launcher White Knight at which point it was unleashed. It fired its rockets to continue its trip. Mr Rutan was on the runway to embrace pilot Mike Melvill on his return. They paid an emotional tribute to each other after the flight. "It was a mind-blowing experience — an awesome thing," said Mr Melvill.

Read more. Source: BBC

blazar
'Blazar' illuminates era when stars and galaxies formed
(Jun 21, 2004)


Astrophysicists at Stanford report spotting a black hole so massive that it's more than 10 billion times the mass of our sun. More important, this heavyweight is so far away that the scientists think it formed when the universe first began to light up with stars and galaxies, so it may provide a window into our cosmological origins. ''In cosmology, it turns out that 'a galaxy a long time ago' and 'far, far away' really do go together,'' says Associate Professor Roger Romani, who with his colleagues, spotted one of the oldest supermassive black holes yet found. The scientists collaborate at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford. ''In this case, we're looking at [a black hole] far enough away that it's within a billion years of the origin of it all, the Big Bang.''

Read more. Source: Stanford University

comet Wild 2
Wild 2 comet unlike any other
(Jun 18, 2004)


A detailed analysis of the comet Wild 2, pronounced "Vilt 2," has left astronomers astounded at an object that has no known peers in the solar system. The comet, examined in a close flyby in January by NASA's Stardust spacecraft, has towering protrusions and steep-walled craters that seem to defy gravity. More than a dozen jets of material shoot out from its insides. Dust swirls around the comet in unexpectedly dense pockets.

Read more. Source: CNN/space.com

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