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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: December 2006
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Discovery on the launchpad
Shuttle night lift-off postponed
(Dec 8, 2006)


NASA has called off the launch of its third space shuttle mission in six months because of poor weather. The crew were seated inside the space shuttle Discovery at the scheduled launch time of 2135 (0235 GMT), but low clouds prevented lift-off. The launch was scheduled to be the first night launch of the orbiter since the Colombia accident in 2003.

Read more. Source: BBC

artist's impression of a black hole devouring a star
NASA telescope sees black hole munch on a star
(Dec 7, 2006)


A giant black hole has been caught red-handed dipping into a cosmic cookie jar of stars by NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer. This is the first time astronomers have seen the whole process of a black hole eating a star, from its first to nearly final bites. "This type of event is very rare, so we are lucky to study the entire process from beginning to end," said Dr. Suvi Gezari of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Suspected water flow on Mars
Water flowed 'recently' on Mars
(Dec 6, 2006)


NASA says it has found "compelling" evidence that liquid water flowed recently on the surface of Mars. The finding adds further weight to the idea that Mars might harbour the right conditions for life. The appearance of gullies, revealed in orbital images from a NASA probe, suggests that water could have flowed on the surface in the last few years.

Read more. Source: BBC

Spirit rover's backshell and parachute
Probe's powerful camera spots Vikings on Mars
(Dec 6, 2006)


It is a feat millions of times more impressive than finding a needle in a haystack. The new Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted about a dozen spacecraft on the Martian surface and, incredibly, taken pictures of such sharpness that scientists have been able to identify individual rocks that were first photographed by the Viking landers in 1976. [Image: Spirit's backshell and parachute photograped by MRO]

Read more. Source: New Scientist

lunar base
US plans permanent base on Moon
(Dec 5, 2006)


US space agency NASA has said it plans to start work on a permanently-occupied base on the Moon after astronauts begin flying back there in 2020. The base is likely to be built on one of the Moon's poles and will serve as a science centre and possible stepping stone for manned missions to Mars.

Read more. Source: BBC

Moon
Potential danger: Moon hit by more space rocks than thought
(Dec 4, 2006)


Potentially dangerous small space rocks are smashing into the Moon a lot more often than was expected, according to an ongoing NASA study. "We've now seen 11 and possibly 12 lunar impacts since we started monitoring the Moon one year ago," said Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "That's about four times more hits than our computer models predicted."

Read more. Source: space.com

International Space Station
Astronauts sample haute cuisine
(Dec 3, 2006)


Saying "the food was out of this world" has taken on a whole new meaning as the International Space Station crew has been sampling haute cuisine in space. Last Sunday the ISS astronauts swapped their usual rations for quails roasted in Madrian wine and duck breast confit, European Space Agency officials said. The gourmet menu was created by French master chef Alain Ducasse.

Read more. Source: BBC

Russell Crater
HiRISE team begins releasing a flood of Mars images over the Internet
(Dec 2, 2006)


The University of Arizona-based team that operates the high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, in conjunction with NASA, is releasing the first of what will be a non-stop flood of incredibly detailed Mars images taken during the spacecraft's two-year primary science mission.

Read more. Source: University of Arizona

carbon globules in the Tagish Lake meteorite
Carbon globules in meteorite may have seeded Earth life
(Dec 1, 2006)
Life on Earth may have started with the help of tiny hollow spheres that formed in the cold depths of space, a new study suggests. The analysis of carbon bubbles found in a meteorite shows they are not Earth contaminants and must have formed in temperatures near absolute zero. The bubbles, called globules, were discovered in 2002 in pieces of a meteorite that had landed on the frozen surface of Tagish Lake in British Columbia, Canada, in 2000.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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