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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: September 2005
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moving drop
Liquid drop takes big nano step
(Sep 8, 2005)

Edinburgh scientists have made a small blob of liquid move across a surface by shining a light in front of it. It may not sound like much but the molecular engineering that went into this feat is said to be a step forward in the emerging area of nanotechnology. The trick is in tiny "machines" about a millionth of a millimetre in size that coat the surface and propel the drop. The team envisages this technology moving biological samples around a diagnostic chip to detect disease.

Read more. Source: BBC

Deep Impact collision
Deep Impact collision ejected the stuff of life
(Sep 7, 2005)

Millions of kilograms of fine dust particles and water and a "surprisingly high" amount of organic molecules sprayed into space when NASA crashed its Deep Impact spacecraft into Comet 9P/Tempel 1 on 4 July 2005, reveal a trio of new studies. The observations bolster theories that comets may have seeded Earth with the raw materials for life and suggest they may be sponge-like – rather than hardened – at their cores.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

possible volcanic cones on Mars
Martian volcanoes 'may be active'
(Sep 7, 2005)

Fields of volcanic cones discovered at the North Pole of Mars suggest the Red Planet could still be geologically active, scientists have said. The cones, seen in images from Europe's Mars Express probe, have no blemishes from impact craters. This suggests the volcanoes erupted very recently and that the sites could have ongoing volcanism. Mars Express scientist Gerhard Neukum presented the results at a conference in Cambridge.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mars dunes
Martian dunes hide water secret
(Sep 6, 2005)

Scientists have found evidence that large amounts of water-ice hide within massive sand dunes on Mars. One of the dunes, which spans 6.5km and rises 475m above the Martian surface, may be the single largest sand dune in the entire Solar System. The icy dunes could be a valuable resource for any future manned missions to the planet, said Dr Mary Bourke.

Read more. Source: BBC

Aerobot aims for Titan
(Sep 6, 2005)

An intelligent floating robot could help to explore Saturn's moon Titan, following flight tests that prove it can survey large areas of land completely autonomously. The aerobot is even smart enough to avoid dangerous turbulence. "After the Huygens probe returned those stunning pictures of Titan's surface, there's been a lot of interest in another mission," says Alberto Elfes, a robotics expert at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He and his colleagues think that their aerobot could spend months cruising through the moon's atmosphere, mapping the surface and collecting samples.

Read more. Source: Nature

Saturn's rings
Saturn ring particles 'fluffy'
(Sep 6, 2005)

The particles that make up Saturn's rings are more like "fluffy" snowballs than hard ice cubes, as some scientists had previously described them. And these grains have been found to be spinning more slowly than thought, according to new data from the US-European Cassini space probe. This is even the case in parts of the rings that are densely packed and where there should be many collisions.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mars panorama
Rover's image from Mars hill peak
(Sep 5, 2005)

NASA's robotic rover Spirit has sent back a partial panoramic view from the summit of "Husband Hill" at Gusev Crater on Mars. Spirit was still sending down data that makes up the colour 360-degree picture when Nasa held a news conference. The robot reached the hill's summit at the end of August following a 14-month climb, driving in reverse and forward modes to reduce wear on its wheels.

Read more. Source: BBC

spiral galaxy
Dark matter highlights extra dimensions
(Sep 4, 2005)

Welcome to the fourth dimension. And the fifth, and the sixth. A team of astrophysicists claims to have identified evidence that space is six-dimensional. Joseph Silk of the University of Oxford, UK, and his co-workers say that these extra spatial dimensions can be inferred from the perplexing behaviour of dark matter. This mysterious stuff cannot be seen, but its presence in galaxies is betrayed by the gravitational tug that it exerts on visible stars.

Read more. Source: Nature

Mars base
Design choices may hurry humans to Mars
(Sep 2, 2005)

A human mission to Mars could be accomplished much sooner than NASA previously hoped – providing the right choices are made for the shuttle's replacement. Using various components of the shuttle's successor – the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) – for several types of mission will enable NASA to reach the Moon and Mars more quickly, according to a new study. Furthermore, the study suggests that the most efficient scheme for lunar exploration would involve sending a spacecraft non-stop to the Moon’s surface, and then back again.

Read more. Source: BBC

path of fast-moving pulsar
Fastest pulsar set to escape the Milky Way
(Sep 1, 2005)

Astronomers have spotted the fastest moving stellar corpse to date – and it appears to be headed straight out of our galaxy. A team from the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, clocked the dead star at 1100 kilometres per second. The object, called B1508+55, is a rotating neutron star, or pulsar. It is the superdense core of a massive star that exploded as a supernova about 2.5 million years ago. The explosion seems to have ejected the pulsar with such force that it will eventually escape the Milky Way entirely.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Raytheon lunar penguin
Robotic space penguin to hop across the Moon
(Sep 1, 2005)

The first lunar colonists may not be humans but compact robots capable of jumping more than a kilometre in a single bound. Engineers at US defence contractor Raytheon, in Massachusetts, have developed a robot, dubbed the Lunar Penguin, that could one day bounce across perilous craters and imposing mountains on the Moon's craggy surface using a set of compact rocket boosters. President George W Bush has made returning to the Moon, and later reaching Mars, a crucial part of his vision for future US space exploration. But, in order for humans to make the Moon a second home, robotic scouts will need to search for safe landing spots and useful minerals for colonists to mine.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

fossil chimp teeth
First chimpanzee fossils found
(Sep 1, 2005)

The only chimpanzee fossils known to science have been unearthed in Kenya, the journal Nature reports. The three 545,000-year-old chimp teeth were dug up in the country's Tugen Hills and probably belonged to the same individual, the US discoverers say. Plenty of fossils belonging to early human ancestors, or hominids, have been found at dig sites all over the world. But until now, scientists had not identified a single fossil belonging to humankind's closest living relative.

Read more. Source: BBC

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