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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: February 2006
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Mars probe poised for 'hair-raising' orbit entry Feb 28, 2006
X Prize Foundation takes next step toward $2 million Lunar Lander Challenge Feb 27, 2006
Spacecraft detects new kind of cosmic explosion Feb 26, 2006
New Hubble images offer best view yet of Pluto and its three satellites Feb 24, 2006
Is our universe about to be mangled? Feb 24, 2006
NASA's Spitzer makes hot alien world the closest directly detected Feb 23, 2006
Ice worms could hold clues to alien life Feb 23, 2006
Rings of ice and dust may encircle Pluto Feb 22, 2006
Japanese infrared space observatory goes into orbit Feb 22, 2006
Quantum teleporter creates laser beam clones Feb 21, 2006
Comet dust sparks scientific intrigue Feb 21, 2006
Faint stars may supply the cosmic X-ray fog Feb 21, 2006
Public space travel: Building the business case Feb 20, 2006
Top stars picked in alien search Feb 19, 2006
New fleet of private spaceships announced Feb 18, 2006
Mars rover to seek safe winter haven Feb 17, 2006
Iron meteorites may be solar system boomerangs Feb 16, 2006
NASA's Spitzer finds violent galaxies smothered in 'crushed glass' Feb 16, 2006
Space-elevator tether climbs a mile high Feb 15, 2006
Biggest lightning storm ever recorded on Saturn Feb 15, 2006
Saturn's inner moons – more rubble than ice Feb 14, 2006
Still-forming solar system may have planets orbiting in opposite directions Feb 14, 2006
US-built oxygen generator ready for space station Feb 14, 2006
Darwin's warm pond theory tested Feb 13, 2006
The dino-daddy of all meat eaters Feb 13, 2006
Spirit Mars Rover reaches 'Home Plate': Formation has researchers puzzled Feb 13, 2006
Fossett breaks record; makes emergency landing Feb 12, 2006
New Horizons update Feb 11, 2006
'Man in the moon' origin may have been found Feb 10, 2006
Dusty discs found around hypergiant stars Feb 9, 2006
Father of Tyrannosaurus is unearthed in China Feb 9, 2006
Milky Way accused of million-star theft Feb 8, 2006
Space rock re-opens Mars debate Feb 8, 2006
NASA to divert cash from science into shuttle Feb 8, 2006
Experts poles apart over Moon landing sites Feb 7, 2006
Xena reignites a planet-sized debate Feb 6, 2006
Research into dwarf galaxies starts to unlock the deep secrets of dark matter Feb 6, 2006
Andromeda's new satellite galaxy is faintest yet Feb 5, 2006
Deep Impact mission reveals comet's icy cargo Feb 3, 2006
Icy Trojan asteroids boost planet-forming theory Feb 2, 2006
Distant world tops Pluto for size Feb 2, 2006
Rocket Racing League names its first team Feb 1, 2006

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Mars probe poised for 'hair-raising' orbit entry
(Feb 28, 2006)

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is preparing for a "hair-raising" entry into orbit around the Red Planet on 10 March, mission managers say. If successful, the spacecraft will spend seven months spiralling towards the planet until it skims just 300 kilometres from its surface – where it will study the planet's geology and climate in unprecedented detail.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Lunar Lander Challenge
X Prize Foundation takes next step toward $2 million Lunar Lander Challenge
(Feb 27, 2006)

The X Prize Foundation (XPF) is moving forward with plans to offer a $2 million Lunar Lander Challenge (LLC) by releasing draft rules of the competition today, making them available for public comment. The LLC was originally introduced in a Letter of Intent executed between XPF and NASA's Centennial Challenges manager, Brant Sponberg, at the 2005 X Prize Cup. It is planned that the challenge will take place at this year's X Prize Cup event on Oct. 21-22, 2006 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The LLC will require a rocket capable of vertical takeoff and vertical landing to fly from one pad to another and back.

Read more. Source: X Prize Foundation

New type of cosmic explosion detected by Swift
Spacecraft detects new kind of cosmic explosion
(Feb 26, 2006)

Scientists using NASA's Swift satellite have detected a new kind of cosmic explosion. The event appears to be a precursor to a supernova, which is expected to reach peak brightness in a week. Scores of satellites and ground-based telescopes are now trained on the sight, watching and waiting. Amateur astronomers in the northern hemisphere with a good telescope in dark skies can also view it.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now / NASA

Pluto and its moons
New Hubble images offer best view yet of Pluto and its three satellites
(Feb 24, 2006)

In the Feb. 23 issue of Nature, a team led by Dr. Hal Weaver of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., describes its discovery of two new moons around Pluto – a finding that made the ninth planet the first Kuiper Belt object known to have multiple satellites. In a companion paper, discovery team members led by Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo., conclude that the two small moons were very likely born in the same giant impact that gave birth to Charon.

Read more. Source: Johns Hopkins APL

parallel universes
Is our universe about to be mangled?
(Feb 24, 2006)
Our universe may one day be obliterated or assimilated by a larger universe, according to a controversial new analysis. The work suggests the parallel universes proposed by some quantum theorists may not actually be parallel but could interact – and with disastrous consequences.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

HD 189773
NASA's Spitzer makes hot alien world the closest directly detected
(Feb 23, 2006)

A NASA-led team of astronomers have used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to detect a strong flow of heat radiation from a toasty planet orbiting a nearby star. The findings allowed the team to "take the temperature" of the planet. "This is the closest extrasolar planet to Earth that has ever been detected directly, and it presents the strongest heat emission ever seen from an exoplanet," said Drake Deming of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The planet HD 189733b orbits a star that is a near cosmic neighbor to our sun, at a distance of 63 light years in the direction of the Dumbbell Nebula.

Read more. Source: NASA/CalTech

ice worm
Ice worms could hold clues to alien life
(Feb 23, 2006)

A tiny worm that lives in glaciers and snowfields is drawing attention for what it could reveal about life on other planets. The ice worm inhabits glacial regions in the coastal ranges of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. The odd creature easily moves through ice, is liveliest near the freezing point of water and dissolves into a goo when warmed.

Read more. Source: MSNBC/AP

Pluto, artist's impression. Credit: NASA
Rings of ice and dust may encircle Pluto
(Feb 22, 2006)

Faint, icy rings may periodically appear around Pluto when small space rocks smash into its two recently discovered moons, new research suggests. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, currently en route to the planet, will search for the rings – and may have to change course to avoid them. Image: Artist's impression of Pluto

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Astro-F launch by an M-5 rocket
Japanese infrared space observatory goes into orbit
(Feb 22, 2006)

A new infrared telescope was put in orbit by Japan today to begin an 18-month mission to conduct a comprehensive all-sky survey that should detect light from up to ten million objects scattered throughout the Universe. The Astro-F observatory lifted off at 2128 GMT (6:28 a.m. local time Wednesday). The spacecraft was flown into orbit using a three-stage solid-fueled M-5 rocket that launched from the Uchinoura Space Center near Kagoshima, Japan, on the southern tip of Kyushu Island.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now

Star Trek transporter
Quantum teleporter creates laser beam clones
(Feb 21, 2006)

Quantum physicists have moved beyond teleporting individual photons to imitating a classic science-fiction scenario – a teleportation machine that generates two near-identical copies of the original. In the fifth episode of the original Star Trek series, the transporter malfunctioned and beamed up to the Starship Enterprise two copies of Captain Kirk, which looked identical but behaved differently. A new experiment has now demonstrated “quantum telecloning” – transporting a whole laser beam to two separate places.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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