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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: October 2005
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Shenzou VI liftoff
China astronauts blast into space
(Oct 12, 2005)

China has successfully launched its second manned spacecraft, carrying two Chinese astronauts into orbit. The lift-off, from Jiuquan in the Gobi desert, was shown live on state television and included views from a camera on the outside of the craft. The mission is expected to see the Shenzhou VI orbit the Earth for five days, during which the astronauts will carry out experiments. It comes almost exactly two years after China's first manned space flight.

Read more. Source: BBC

Launch of JAXA's supersonic aircraft model
Japan tests supersonic jet model
(Oct 10, 2005)

Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) has successfully tested a new design for a supersonic airliner. An 11-metre (36-feet) scale model was launched by rocket from the test site at Woomera in the Australian desert. Officials at the aerospace agency said the test marked a major step forward in the development of supersonic flight.

Read more. Source: BBC

Titan's bright spot
Titan's bright spot revealed by Cassini
(Oct 8, 2005)

The Cassini spacecraft has spotted the brightest area yet on Saturn's moon, Titan - but how it formed remains a mystery. "It's the brightest area on Titan in every wavelength we've looked at," says Jason Barnes, at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, US. The bright red spot is about 400 kilometres across and lies south-east of another bright area named Xanadu. But it is almost twice as bright as Xanadu. "The question is why," says Barnes.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Europe ice mission lost in ocean
(Oct 8, 2005)

The European Space Agency has confirmed that its ice mission Cryosat has been lost off the Russian coast. The satellite fell into the Arctic Ocean minutes after lift-off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. The 90m (135m euro) craft was designed to monitor how the Earth's ice masses are responding to climate change. Scientists said the crash was a "tragedy" and it would be years before they could launch a similar mission, even if more funding were available.

Read more. Source: BBC

Asteroid probe runs into trouble
(Oct 7, 2005)

Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft, designed to collect a sample from an asteroid and return it to Earth, has lost the second of its three "reaction wheels". These wheels help the probe maintain its "attitude", or orientation, in space without needlessly expending fuel by using thrusters to do the same job. Hayabusa has now settled in a "home position" about 6.8km from its target, the asteroid Itokawa. It is currently using a combination of its two chemical engines and the last remaining reaction wheel to maintain a stable attitude.

Read more. Source: BBC

SpaceShipOne goes on show in US
(Oct 6, 2005)

SpaceShipOne, the only manned spacecraft to be flown by a private company, has been hung in Washington's National Air and Space Museum. The record-setting vehicle has been put in the museum's central gallery next to Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St Louis and Chuck Yeager's Bell X-1. The donation to the famous US museum was marked by a special ceremony.

Read more. Source: BBC

cosmic view
Physicists say universe evolution favored three and seven dimensions
(Oct 5, 2005)

Physicists who work with a concept called string theory envision our universe as an eerie place with at least nine spatial dimensions, six of them hidden from us, perhaps curled up in some way so they are undetectable. The big question is why we experience the universe in only three spatial dimensions instead of four, or six, or nine. Two theoretical researchers from the University of Washington and Harvard University think they might have found the answer. They believe the way our universe started and then diluted as it expanded – what they call the relaxation principle – favored formation of three- and seven-dimensional realities. The one we happen to experience has three dimensions.

Read more. Source: University of Washington

RRL rocket race
X-Prize man launches rocket race
(Oct 4, 2005)

Peter Diamandis, the man behind the $10m X-Prize for suborbital space travel, has brought forward his new initiative: the Rocket Racing League. The RRL will see Grand Prix-style races between rocket planes, flown by top pilots through a "3D trackway" just 5,000ft (1,500m) above the ground. The first "X-Racers" will be built for the series, but it is hoped new teams will soon enter with novel designs. Events will be staged across the US, culminating in a final in New Mexico.

Read more. Source: BBC

Tagish Lake meteorite
Unusual meteorite unlocks treasure trove of secrets
(Oct 4, 2005)

An unusual meteorite that fell on a frozen lake in Canada five years ago has led a Florida State University geochemist to a breakthrough in understanding the origin of the chemical elements that make up our solar system. Professor Munir Humayun of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and the geological sciences department at FSU and Alan Brandon of NASA discovered an isotopic anomaly in the rare element osmium in primitive meteorites. The anomalous osmium was derived from small stars with a higher neutron density than that which formed our solar system.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now/Florida State Univ.

2003 UB313
Moon discovered orbiting solar system's 10th planet
(Oct 3, 2005)

The newly discovered 10th planet, 2003 UB313, is looking more and more like one of the solar system's major players. It has the heft of a real planet (latest estimates put it at about 20 percent larger than Pluto), a catchy code name (Xena, after the TV warrior princess), and a Guinness Book-ish record of its own (at about 97 astronomical units – or 9 billion miles from the sun – it is the solar system's farthest detected object). And, astronomers from the California Institute of Technology and their colleagues have now discovered, it has a moon.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now/CalTech

cluster of galaxies
Cosmic expansion is not to blame for expanding waistlines
(Oct 2, 2005)

"Your waistline may be spreading but you can't blame it on the expansion of the universe." So says Richard Price, a physicist at the University of Texas at Brownsville, who has worked out that while some objects are stretched by cosmological expansion, others are not. Cosmologists have long accepted that the universe is expanding, causing galaxies to spread apart like raisins in a rising loaf of bread, as the space between them stretches. But while Price was teaching a summer course, a question from a high-school student floored him. "He asked me if, as space expands, we all get bigger too," says Price. "I knew the standard answer was 'no', but I couldn't explain why not."

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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