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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2005
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Andromeda Galaxy larger than thought May 31, 2005
Climate wiped out mega-marsupials May 31, 2005
Hunting Tasmania's extinct 'tiger' May 30, 2005
Jupiter's innermost moon just a pile of rubble May 29, 2005
'Slime worlds' may reflect signs of life May 28, 2005
Bright spot on Titan baffles scientists May 27, 2005
Russia to resume Vostok drilling May 26, 2005
Voyager 1 pushes for deep space May 25, 2005
Lens method finds far-off world May 25, 2005
Near-Earth asteroids buzz the US government May 24, 2005
Wormhole 'no use' for time travel May 23, 2005
'Perfect' spiral galaxy may harbour dark secret May 23, 2005
New African monkey discovered May 20, 2005
Bush likely to back weapons in space May 19, 2005
Arachnid's clue to dino wipeout May 18, 2005
'Pleistocene Park' experiment May 17, 2005
Canadian satellite plays hide and seek with exoplanet May 17, 2005
Stars spotted on the edge of a massive black hole May 16, 2005
Have we cracked Saturn's walnut? May 14, 2005
'Retire shuttle early' says NASA May 13, 2005
US robot builds copies of itself May 12, 2005
Blast hints at black hole birth May 11, 2005
Time travellers invited back from the future May 11, 2005
Lost asteroid clue to Pioneer puzzle May 10, 2005
NASA plots escape for stranded Mars rover May 9, 2005
Image may be Mars Polar Lander May 8, 2005
Modified mice enjoy one-fifth more life May 6, 2005
Phoebe moon may be captured comet May 5, 2005
Twelve new moons for Saturn May 5, 2005
Fastest-evolving genes in humans and chimps revealed May 3, 2005
Underground radar hunt for life on Mars May 2, 2005
Planet 'seen' around distant sun May 1, 2005


Andromeda Galaxy
Andromeda Galaxy larger than thought
(May 31, 2005)


The Andromeda galaxy just got bigger – three times bigger, astronomers said on Monday. The galaxy is not actually expanding. But new measurements suggest that the nearest galaxy to our own Milky Way is three times broader than astronomers had thought. They now believe a thin sprinkling of stars once thought to be a halo is in fact part of Andromeda's main disk. That makes the spiral galaxy more than 220,000 light-years across – triple the previous estimate of 70,000 to 80,000 light-years.

Read more. Source: Reuters

Diprotodon
Climate wiped out mega-marsupials
(May 31, 2005)


It is unlikely humans exterminated the immense marsupial Diprotodon and other huge beasts that once roamed Australia in a short killing spree. Two new studies refute the theory that humans moving on to the continent more than 45,000 years ago took out its megafauna in a 1,000-year "blitzkrieg". The studies suggest instead a more complex pattern to the extinctions.

Read more. Source: BBC

Tasmanian tiger
Hunting Tasmania's extinct 'tiger'
(May 30, 2005)


They come out as soon as the sun goes down on the Australian island state of Tasmania. The winter has now come. The temperature is just above freezing so they are wrapped in jumpers and thick coats as they head out into one of the last great wilderness areas on Earth. The bush is thick. It is hard to catch your step. The towering canopy of the eucalyptus trees blots out all but the faintest glow of moonlight. I have come on this expedition to join Col Bailey and a group of friends on a tiger hunt.

Read more. Source: BBC

Amalthea
Jupiter's innermost moon just a pile of rubble
(May 29, 2005)


Jupiter's innermost moon Amalthea is a mass of icy rubble that could not have formed as close to the planet as its present orbit. A new analysis does not pinpoint its true origin, but does indicate that the porous hunk of ice and rock is near its maximum possible size. The new analysis is of data from the Galileo spacecraft, which sped past Amalthea at a distance of only 244 kilometres on 5 November 2002 on its way to a death-plunge into the Jovian atmosphere.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

alien planet
'Slime worlds' may reflect signs of life
(May 28, 2005)


"Slime worlds" may prove excellent targets for the search for extraterrestrial life, according to new calculations. The research suggests future space missions may be able to detect the signature of microbial life around as many as 200 nearby stars. One of the top priorities for future missions scouting for Earth-like planets is to look for atmospheric components such as oxygen, water, and methane, which could signal life. But these molecules are not always biological in origin, so astronomers believe they can strengthen the case for possible life if these candidates show other intriguing signatures. One is called the "red edge" – a spike in the amount of near-infrared light emitted from a planet.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Titan
Bright spot on Titan baffles scientists
(May 27, 2005)


Scientists are baffled by an unusual bright spot on Saturn's big moon, Titan. The Cassini spacecraft captured an image of the 300-mile (480-kilometer) blotch during a flyby of Titan earlier this year. "At first glance, I thought the feature looked strange, almost out of place," Robert Brown, a member of the Cassini project, said Wednesday. Scientists believe the spot might have formed recently as a result of an asteroid impact, landslide or volcanic eruption.

Read more. Source: ESA

Lake Vostok
Russia to resume Vostok drilling
(May 26, 2005)


Russian scientists have said they will resume drilling into Lake Vostok in the Antarctic, to within 100m of the waters that sit below its ice-cap. Lake Vostok's waters may hold many new species as it is an ecosystem that has been sealed-off from the outside world for millions of years. Scientists had previously drilled into the ice above the lake but had stopped well short of the water-ice interface. Some have expressed concern that the new drilling may contaminate the lake.

Read more. Source: BBC

Voyager
Voyager 1 pushes for deep space
(May 25, 2005)


Launched in 1977, the craft is now some 14 billion km (8.7 billion miles) from the Sun and on the cusp of deep space. NASA scientists told a conference in New Orleans on Tuesday that Voyager was moving through a region known as the heliosheath. This is a vast, turbulent expanse where the Sun's influence ends and particles blown off its surface crash into the thin gas that drifts between the stars. Soon – researchers cannot be sure when – the probe will break into deep space.

Read more. Source: BBC

exoplanet
Lens method finds far-off world
(May 25, 2005)


An international team of astronomers has found a planet which, at about 15,000 light-years from Earth, is one of the most distant yet detected. The new world was discovered when its parent star's gravity distorted the light from an even more distant star. The way the distant star's light changed betrayed the planet's presence. Two amateur astronomers in New Zealand helped find the world using "backyard" telescopes, showing that almost anyone can become a planet hunter.

Read more. Source: BBC

asteroid Gaspra
Near-Earth asteroids buzz the US government
(May 24, 2005)


Asteroids and comets that could fly dangerously close to Earth are getting a burst of attention from the US government this week. A science committee in the US Congress passed a bill to provide $40 million to expand NASA's search for the objects on Tuesday. And on Friday, former astronaut Russell Schweickart outlined a plan to land a transponder on an asteroid that has a small chance of hitting Earth in 2036. The $40 million in the bill would be spent in 2006 and 2007 to detect, track, and study Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) larger than 100 metres across.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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