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Anousheh Ansari
Fortune smiles on space race sponsor
(Aug 24, 2006)

A young Iranian-born American woman who rallied her wealthy family to underwrite a $10m (£5.3m) competition for the first private spaceflight will soon get to experience for herself the thrill of being a space tourist. On Tuesday, Anousheh Ansari was confirmed as the replacement for Japanese businessman Daisuke Enomoto as a fare-paying passenger onboard the next Russian rocket mission to the International Space Station.

Read more. Source: BBC

Orion Command and Service modules
NASA names new spacecraft 'Orion'
(Aug 23, 2006)

US space agency NASA has named its new manned exploration craft Orion. The vehicle is being developed to take human space explorers back to the Moon and potentially then on to Mars. It is hoped the name Orion could eventually mean as much for manned space exploration as Apollo did in the 1960s and 1970s. Its first manned flight – to the International Space Station – will take place no later than 2014 and its first flight to the Moon no later than 2020.

Read more. Source: BBC

A white dwarf's magnetic field funnels stolen matter onto its poles, creating a pair of bright spots (Illustration: Bob Watson/SALT)
New telescope reveals white dwarf gluttony
(Aug 23, 2006)

A highly magnetised stellar corpse has been caught stealing matter from its companion star in unprecedented detail, reveals the first scientific data from the new Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). The measurements will help scientists understand how matter behaves under extreme magnetic fields. Researchers led by Darragh O'Donoghue of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Cape Town, South Africa, used a high-speed camera on the telescope, called SALTICAM, to measure the brightness of a system called SDSS J015543.40+002807.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Quintuplet Cluster
Mystery of Quintuplet stars in Milky Way solved
(Aug 22, 2006)

For the first time, scientists have identified the cluster of Quintuplet stars in the Milky Way’s galactic center, next to the super massive black hole, as massive binary stars nearing the end of their life cycle, solving a mystery that had dogged astronomers for more than 15 years. The nature of the stars was not entirely clear until now. In a paper published in the Aug. 18 issue of Science, co-authors Peter Tuthill of the University of Sydney and Donald Figer of Rochester Institute of Technology show that the Quintuplet cluster consists of young massive binary stars that produce large amounts of dust.

Read more. Source: Rochester Institute of Technology

Bullet Cluster
Team finds 'proof' of dark matter
(Aug 21, 2006)

US astronomers say they have found the first direct evidence for the mysterious stuff called dark matter. Dark matter – which does not emit or reflect enough light to be "seen" – is thought to make up 25% of the Universe. By contrast, the ordinary matter we can see is believed to make up no more than about 4% of our Universe.

Read more. Source: BBC

Pluto, artist's impression
Pluto may yet lose planet status
(Aug 21, 2006)

We were about to gain a horde of new planets; now we might lose one instead. In Prague, astronomers are trying to define what it means to be a planet. A draft definition released on Wednesday would have extended the club from the conventional nine to twelve, and soon to many more. But on Friday, astronomers at the meeting suggested a different scheme – one that would instead relegate Pluto to the status of "dwarf planet".

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Voyager 1: "The Spacecraft That Could" hits new milestone
(Aug 20, 2006)

Voyager 1, already the most distant human-made object in the cosmos, reaches 100 astronomical units from the sun on Tuesday, August 15 at 5:13 p.m. Eastern time (2:13 p.m. Pacific time). That means the spacecraft, which launched nearly three decades ago, will be 100 times more distant from the sun than Earth is. In more common terms, Voyager 1 will be about 15 billion kilometers (9.3 billion miles) from the sun.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

backward moving sunspot
First sunspot of next solar cycle glimpsed?
(Aug 18, 2006)

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft may have glimpsed the first sunspot of the next 11-year solar cycle. It has come a tad early, and it may mean that the next sunspot cycle will be a particularly active one.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

NGC 6397
Hubble glimpses faintest stars
(Aug 18, 2006)

Researchers peering at the Universe's first-born stars have uncovered the key to predicting a star's destiny. Stars that don't have enough mass never shine, dying billions of years before their bigger counterparts. But astronomers have never been able to measure the exact mass limit, because the lightest stars that do shine can be simply too faint to detect. Now, new images show for the first time how big a star must be to avoid impending doom.

Read more. Source: BBC

STS-115 crew
Shuttle Atlantis to launch as soon as possible
(Aug 17, 2006)

NASA will attempt to launch the space shuttle Atlantis on 27 August, the first day of its available launch window, officials said on Wednesday. It will be the first mission to resume construction of the International Space Station since the 2003 Columbia disaster. The decision to confirm the launch date was made after a two-day flight readiness review. The launch window lasts until 7 September.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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