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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: November 2005
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Space cadets taken for a ride
(Nov 22, 2005)

It is all set to be the thrill of a lifetime. A group of intrepid adventurers, having fought off dozens of other hopefuls, will head into space for a five-day voyage, to be watched and envied by millions. Except they won't. Space Cadets, which hits British television screens next month, is the latest ambitious experiment in 'reality TV'. The show's organizers have rigged a Hollywood space-shuttle set with all the sights, sounds and shakes of a genuine space flight. But, unbeknownst to the participants, the craft will never leave the ground.

Read more. Source: Nature

Cassini lets Pandora's secret out of the box
(Nov 21, 2005)

The Cassini spacecraft has captured the best view yet of Saturn’s moon Pandora, revealing a tiny, heavily cratered world covered with fine debris. Cassini made its closest approach ever to the diminutive moon on 5 September 2005, sweeping passed at a distance of 52,000 kilometres. Even from this far away, the spacecraft's narrow angle camera was able to pick up small grooves and ridges in the dust-fine icy material that has collected over Pandora’s craters.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

DEM L316
Celestial odd couple baffles astronomers
(Nov 20, 2005)

New observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have deepened a mystery over the ghostly remains of two dead stars that appear to be haunting the same region of space. The mystery involves a glowing double-lobed structure called DEM L316 that lies about 160,000 light years away in a nearby galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The structure appears to be made of two supernova remnants – the hot gas and scattered ashes of massive stars that ended their lives in a violent explosion. But supernova remnants are rarely found in pairs – prompting astronomers to question how the double structure formed.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Hyabuse captured its own shadow on the surface of Itokawa
Japan's asteroid touchdown fails
(Nov 20, 2005)

An unmanned Japanese space probe sent to collect what would be the world's first samples from an asteroid has failed to touch down on its target. The Japanese space agency said the Hayabusa probe had got to within 17 metres (56ft) of the asteroid before they temporarily lost contact with it. The agency said it hoped to make a second attempt to land the craft.

Read more. Source: BBC

Dream Chaser
Private company revives old NASA shuttle design
(Nov 18, 2005)

A private company wants to sell NASA trips into orbit on a shuttle-like spaceship that the agency itself designed two decades ago. SpaceDev, an aerospace company based in California, US, has announced plans to build a spacecraft that will carry both tourists and astronauts into orbit. Called Dream Chaser, it is based on a small, plane-like craft called the HL-20 that NASA designed in the 1980s as an alternative to the space shuttle. It cost the space agency $2 billion to develop the design, along with a full scale prototype, but a working HL-20 was never built.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Star Trek's Scotty
Space trip delay for Trek actor
(Nov 17, 2005)

Plans to send the remains of late Star Trek actor James Doohan into space have been delayed pending further engine tests, rocket technicians have said. The Canadian-born actor, who played Montgomery Scott in the original TV show and films, died in July, aged 85. Tributes from fans will accompany his ashes on the flight, which will also carry the remains of 200 other people. Flight operator Space Services said the launch in California was likely to be postponed to February from December.

Read more. Source: BBC

Ariane 5-ECA launch
Heavy-lift Ariane flies skyward
(Nov 17, 2005)

Europe's most powerful rocket – the Ariane 5-ECA – has launched two satellites from French Guiana. It roared away from Kourou spaceport with the thrust of 10 Concordes, on cue at 2046 local time (2346GMT). It was only the third flight for the 780-tonne rocket, which experienced the ignominy of having to be destroyed on its maiden outing in 2002. The ECA has the power to push 10,000kg of payload towards geostationary orbit, 36,000km above the Earth.

Read more. Source: BBC

Polarised light may reveal hidden exoplanets
(Nov 16, 2005)

Scattered starlight may soon reveal the presence of extrasolar planets that cannot be detected by any other means, according to a pair of scientists in India. But some other experts say the method is best suited to studying the properties of known exoplanets – not turning up new discoveries. Astronomers have already discovered about 155 extrasolar planets by watching how they make their host stars wobble or dim as they circle around them. But these methods are best suited to detecting so-called "hot Jupiters" – giant planets that orbit close to their stars, leaving any smaller or more distant planets unseen.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

lunar colonists
'Lunar lawnmower' to deal with Moon dust menace
(Nov 15, 2005)

Astronauts who think joining a lunar colony would mean no more Earthly chores should reconsider. One important task for any future Moon residents could well be mowing the lunar lawn. NASA plans to return people to the Moon as early as 2018 and lunar dust is likely to be a major problem for future missions. The Apollo missions ran from 1961 to 1972, and from the moment Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon in 1969, lunar astronauts have complained of dust sticking to their space suits and getting into seals.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

NASA blended wing plane
'Blended wing' craft passes wind-tunnel tests
(Nov 14, 2005)

A futuristic "blended wing" plane developed by NASA has passed crucial wind-tunnel tests. These reveal that engineers may have overcome some of the controllability challenges associated with the revolutionary aircraft design. Designs for blended wing planes are a dramatic leap from that of today's passenger jets – instead having a tube-like fuselage; they look more like paper aeroplanes with engines mounted on top and at the rear. The unusual shape is much more aerodynamic than a normal plane, which means it could use 20% less fuel.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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