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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: November 2005
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Radar sees ice deep below Mars Nov 30, 2005
Thruster problem may scupper Hayabusa's return to Earth Nov 30, 2005
Cassini snapshot reveals Saturn's volcanic moon Nov 29, 2005
NASA criticised over space station management Nov 29, 2005
Japan's asteroid probe to head home despite glitch Nov 28, 2005
Probe 'gathers asteroid material' Nov 26, 2005
Dark energy refuses to fade away Nov 25, 2005
Scientists, be on guard ... ET might be a malicious hacker Nov 25, 2005
Asteroid probe 'did touch down' Nov 24, 2005
Dwarfs found in colliding galaxies' wake Nov 23, 2005
Space cadets taken for a ride Nov 22, 2005
Cassini lets Pandora’s secret out of the box Nov 21, 2005
Celestial odd couple baffles astronomers Nov 20, 2005
Japan's asteroid touchdown fails Nov 20, 2005
Private company revives old NASA shuttle design Nov 18, 2005
Space trip delay for Trek actor Nov 17, 2005
Heavy-lift Ariane flies skyward Nov 17, 2005
Polarised light may reveal hidden exoplanets Nov 16, 2005
‘Lunar lawnmower’ to deal with Moon dust menace Nov 15, 2005
‘Blended wing’ craft passes wind-tunnel tests Nov 14, 2005
Japanese asteroid probe apparently lost in space Nov 14, 2005
McCartney in live space broadcast Nov 13, 2005
Technical hitch delays Ariane 5 Nov 13, 2005
Black hole ate my twin, but it can’t catch me Nov 12, 2005
Surprising star birth seen in bear-shaped nebula Nov 12, 2005
Hardy lichen shown to survive in space Nov 11, 2005
NASA seeks private space-ferries Nov 10, 2005
Gravity tug to deflect asteroids Nov 10, 2005
Europe's Venus mission blasts off Nov 9, 2005
Intergalactic attraction creates bumper star crop Nov 8, 2005
NASA tightens its belt, again Nov 7, 2005
'Cloudshine' may reveal secrets of star birth Nov 7, 2005
Volcanoes ruled out for Martian methane Nov 6, 2005
Neutron star found where a black hole was expected Nov 4, 2005
Asteroid encounter postponed Nov 4, 2005
Burned-up meteors add to Martian atmosphere Nov 4, 2005
Scientists see light that may be from first objects in Universe Nov 3, 2005
Astronomers zoom in on galaxy’s glittering heart Nov 3, 2005
China finds ancient observatory Nov 2, 2005
NASA decline to deflect asteroid - for now Nov 1, 2005
NASA's Hubble reveals possible new moons around Pluto Nov 1, 2005

Mars Exrpess
Radar sees ice deep below Mars
(Nov 30, 2005)

Mars Express has become the first spacecraft to detect reserves of water ice beneath the surface of the Red Planet, experts have announced. The Marsis radar experiment carried onboard appears to have discovered water ice 2km into the subsurface. It is thought the greatest reservoir of retained water on Mars could be found beneath the surface, perhaps providing a habitat for microbial life. The US-European Marsis team report their findings in the journal Science.

Read more. Source: BBC

Thruster problem may scupper Hayabusa's return to Earth
(Nov 30, 2005)

A fuel thruster problem with Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft appears to be more serious than originally thought – and could prevent the mission from returning to Earth with the first-ever samples from an asteroid. Hayabusa briefly landed on the asteroid Itokawa on Saturday and fired two pellets into its surface to drive up material for collection. But shortly afterwards, mission controllers noticed the spacecraft was pointing in the wrong direction – apparently because of a problem with one or two of its 12 fuel thrusters.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Cassini snapshot reveals Saturn's volcanic moon
(Nov 29, 2005)

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured unique views of two of Saturn's moons. The probe’s first close encounter with the large moon Rhea was somewhat eclipsed by a sidelong snapshot of the moon Enceladus, revealing active volcanic plumes above its surface. On a previous, much closer pass by Enceladus, Cassini detected that the south pole of Enceladus is spewing out a vast plume of water vapour that stretches hundreds of kilometres from the moon's surface and keeps Saturn's E-ring topped up – but it has now captured the first images of this activity.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

International Space Station
NASA criticised over space station management
(Nov 29, 2005)

NASA's plans to send humans to the Moon and Mars depend upon solving problems with the International Space Station, concludes a report issued by the US National Research Council. The station "provides an essential platform for research and technology testing" to support lengthy missions, according to the report, but NASA currently lacks a complete or convincing plan for finishing and making use of the orbiting outpost. Key problems identified in the NRC report include the space shuttle's limited availability to reach the station, the current reduction in the station’s crew, and restricted research – all of which can be traced back to funding issues.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Japan's asteroid probe to head home despite glitch
(Nov 28, 2005)

A Japanese spacecraft on an unprecedented mission to bring asteroid material back to Earth is set to start home despite showing signs of trouble earlier, an executive of Japan's space agency, JAXA, said Sunday. On Saturday, the Hayabusa probe apparently landed on the Itokawa asteroid and collected surface samples. After the landing, the probe hovered about three miles from the asteroid and appeared to be shaking due to a possible gas leak from a thruster, JAXA said. The probe shut down all its engines Saturday and switched to solar power while JAXA investigated the problem. But the probe appears to be stabilizing, and JAXA plans to re-ignite its engines by Dec. 10 for the return journey, JAXA executive Yasunori Matogawa said.

Read more. Source:

asteroid Itokawa
Probe 'gathers asteroid material'
(Nov 26, 2005)

A Japanese space probe has become the first collect samples from the surface of an asteroid, mission scientists say. The probe, called Hayabusa – Japanese for falcon – briefly touched down on the Itokawa asteroid and fired a projectile to loosen surface material. Scientists believe it collected the debris, but will only be sure when the craft returns to Earth in 2007. Moon rocks have been analysed before, but asteroids could contain material from the birth of the solar system. Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) confirmed that the Hayabusa touched down on Itokawa for a few seconds.

Read more. Source: BBC

Supernova 1994D in the outskirts of NGC 4526
Dark energy refuses to fade away
(Nov 25, 2005)

The first results from an international effort to probe the nature of dark energy suggest that this mysterious force has remained constant over the life of the universe, rather than fading away as some hypotheses suggest. The Supernova Legacy Survey (SNLS) project has enlisted some of the world's largest telescopes to search for the same cosmic evidence that first suggested the existence of dark energy: a kind of stellar explosion called a type Ia supernova. Measuring and comparing the brightness and spectral signature of this type of supernova tells astronomers how much the universe has expanded since these explosions occurred.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Scientists, be on guard ... ET might be a malicious hacker
(Nov 25, 2005)

As if spotty teenagers releasing computer viruses on to the internet from darkened rooms were not enough of a headache. According to a scientific report, planet Earth's computers are wide open to a virus attack from Little Green Men. The concern is raised in the next issue of the journal Acta Astronautica by Richard Carrigan, a particle physicist at the US Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. He believes scientists searching the heavens for signals from extra-terrestrial civilisations are putting Earth's security at risk, by distributing the jumble of signals they receive to computers all over the world.

Read more. Source: Guardian

asteroid Itokawa (Image: JAXA)
Asteroid probe 'did touch down'
(Nov 24, 2005)

The Hayabusa space probe landed successfully on its asteroid target despite the initial announcement of a failure, Japan's space agency says. It apparently failed to drop equipment to collect material from the surface of asteroid Itokawa. The Japanese spacecraft is on a mission to return surface samples to Earth. But a team member told the BBC Hayabusa could have disturbed enough surface material for some to have got into its sample collection chamber by accident.

Read more. Source: BBC

About 15 faint, dwarf galaxies (red) have formed along two arcs extending thousands of light years from each of the two large galaxies, together called NGC 5291 (centre) (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ)
Dwarfs found in colliding galaxies' wake
(Nov 23, 2005)

A new method to detect small, faint galaxies that spring up in the wake of violent galactic collisions has been devised by astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope. The method could shed light on how most of the galaxies near our own formed. The vast majority of local galaxies are "dwarfs" – our galaxy, the Milky Way, has 1000 times more mass in stars. But it is not clear how these dwarfs form. Some may have condensed directly from primordial gas soon after the big bang. But astronomers are not sure these lightweight galaxies would have been able to survive unscathed the relatively common galactic smash-ups that occurred in the early universe.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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