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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: January 2006
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Ice-bound neutrino hunter may bolster string theory Jan 31, 2006
Cosmic rays linked to cloudy days Jan 31, 2006
New Horizons update Jan 30, 2006
Spacesuit to become makeshift satellite beacon Jan 28, 2006
Milky Way brims with singleton stars Jan 27, 2006
Two exiled stars are leaving our galaxy forever Jan 27, 2006
'Wrecking ball' could break the ice on Mars Jan 26, 2006
A waste of space Jan 26, 2006
Smallest Earth-like planet found Jan 25, 2006
Gravity theory dispenses with dark matter Jan 25, 2006
The world's tiniest fish (all 7.9mm of it) is found Jan 25, 2006
Laser beams build and hold nanoscale structures Jan 24, 2006
Spacecraft skin 'heals' itself Jan 23, 2006
Rocket Racing League establishes New Mexico headquarters Jan 22, 2006
Rocky rings around Sun-like stars revealed Jan 21, 2006
Critical space junk threshold approaching Jan 20, 2006
Pluto probe launches from Florida Jan 19, 2006
Tips for space tourists Jan 19, 2006
Eon of dust storms traced to asteroid smash Jan 19, 2006
UW astronomer hits cosmic paydirt with Stardust Jan 19, 2006
Super-powerful new ion engine revealed Jan 18, 2006
High winds scrub Pluto mission launch Jan 18, 2006
Kuiper Belt moons are starting to seem typical Jan 18, 2006
Pluto mission ready for lift-off Jan 17, 2006
Stardust capsule returns to Earth Jan 15, 2006
Space telescopes capture a cosmic jellyfish Jan 15, 2006
Fast-spinning neutron star smashes speed limit Jan 13, 2006
Mini-galaxies may reveal dark matter stream Jan 13, 2006
New model accurately simulates Titan's clouds Jan 13, 2006
Gamma-ray burst study may rule out cosmological constant Jan 12, 2006
Hubble sees 'tadpoles' swimming in the distance Jan 11, 2006
Milky Way's warp explained Jan 10, 2006
'Mild' collision spawned Earth's moon Jan 9, 2006
How the universe's first magnetic field formed Jan 9, 2006
US draws up space tourism rules Jan 8, 2006
Pluto moon 'has no atmosphere' Jan 7, 2006
Supernovas detonate in Milky Way every 50 years Jan 6, 2006
Giant gas 'superbubble' opens wide Jan 6, 2006
Longest laser link bridges the gulf of space Jan 6, 2006
Mineral analysis may reveal life on Mars Jan 6, 2006
Energizing the quest for 'big theory' Jan 5, 2006
Day of reckoning for comet catcher Jan 4, 2006
Pluto is colder than its moon Charon Jan 4, 2006
Rovers enter second year on Mars Jan 3, 2006
Star near Southern Cross is ringing like a bell Jan 2, 2006

When a neutrino collides with a water molecule deep in Antarctica’s ice, the particle it produces radiates a blue light called Cerenkov radiation, which IceCube will detect (Steve Yunck/NSF)
Ice-bound neutrino hunter may bolster string theory
(Jan 31, 2006)

Future neutrino experiments at the South Pole may be able to detect the predicted effects of string theory or other exotic phenomena, a new study suggests. Neutrinos are near-massless elementary particles produced in stars and in high-energy processes in space. Billions of neutrinos churned out by the Sun stream through every cubic centimetre of the Earth per second. But they interact extremely weakly with matter, so they rarely collide with atoms and are therefore difficult to detect.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

cloudy day
Cosmic rays linked to cloudy days
(Jan 31, 2006)

If you love to moan about cloudy grey weather, you now have something to blame: cosmic rays. These high-energy particles originate in outer space and in solar flares, and can have a small but significant effect on the weather, increasing the chances of an overcast day by nearly 20 per cent. Giles Harrison and David Stephenson from the University of Reading, UK, examined 50 years of solar radiation measurements from sites all over the country, enabling them to calculate daily changes in cloudiness.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

New Horizons spacecraft
New Horizons update
(Jan 30, 2006)

The New Horizons probe to Pluto is on course and in good shape following its first trajectory correction maneuver at 1900 UTC on Saturday. This small burn will be followed by a somewhat larger (12 m/s) maneuver set for 1900 UTC on Monday, Jan 30. Together these two maneuvers will refine the Jupiter aim point and allow the probe to accurately hit the Jupiter Gravity Assist aim point for Pluto and the desired Jul. 14, 2015 arrival date. New Horizons will pass the orbit of Mars on Apr. 8.

Read more. Source: New Horizons homepage

Spacesuit to become makeshift satellite beacon
(Jan 28, 2006)

Perhaps the weirdest satellite ever devised will soon be in orbit around the Earth. On 3 February, two astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) to move a cargo boom from one module to another, perform routine maintenance and retrieve external experiments. But cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov and astronaut Jeffrey Williams will then hurl a battered – and empty – Russian spacesuit into space. But this will be no act of mindless cosmic littering. The Orlon cosmonaut suit has been modified to act as a crude, improvised, radio satellite dubbed "SuitSat".

Read more. Source: New Scientist

the Milky Way in Sagittarius
Milky Way brims with singleton stars
(Jan 27, 2006)

Most of the stars in the Milky Way are born alone and live out their lives without partners, a new analysis suggests. If true, the work overturns standard theories that stars are born in broods and also suggests planets – and potentially life – may be more common in the galaxy than thought. Conventional wisdom has it that stars are born in nurseries of gas and dust that typically contain several hundred stars in a region 3 light years wide. According to most models, they are born there in clutches, with several stars condensing from each of many large, dense clouds of matter. Now, astronomer Charles Lada of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is challenging that notion.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

star speeding out of the Galaxy, artist's impresson
Two exiled stars are leaving our galaxy forever
(Jan 27, 2006)

TV reality show contestants aren't the only ones under threat of exile. Astronomers using the MMT Observatory in Arizona have discovered two stars exiled from the Milky Way Galaxy. Those stars are racing out of the Galaxy at speeds of more than 1 million miles per hour – so fast that they will never return. "These stars literally are castaways," said Smithsonian astronomer Warren Brown (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). "They have been thrown out of their home galaxy and set adrift in an ocean of intergalactic space."

Read more. Source: Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

'Wrecking ball' could break the ice on Mars
(Jan 26, 2006)

A plan to drop a quarter-tonne copper ball through Mars's atmosphere and study the ejecta it blasts away from the planet's surface on impact has been proposed to NASA. The mission, called THOR, would test models suggesting the planet's tilt – and therefore its climate – swings through extreme changes every 50,000 years. Robotic landers and rovers have previously visited the Red Planet's equatorial regions, and an upcoming mission called Phoenix is due to touch down near the north pole in 2008. But no probe has visited the planet's mid-latitudes, where gullies and glacier-like features suggest there may be large amounts of pure water ice beneath a layer of dusty soil.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

International Space Station
A waste of space
(Jan 26, 2006)

It is the most expensive piece of technology ever built, supposedly a monument to international cooperation and the spirit of adventure and exploration. But 20 years and $100bn later, the International Space Station is an embarrassment. The first pieces were launched in December 1998, but it has yet to produce any science worthy of its colossal price tag. And, in recent months, the US space agency NASA has all but admitted that the project has been a mistake.

Read more. Source: Guardian

extrasolar planet
Smallest Earth-like planet found
(Jan 25, 2006)

An international team of astronomers has found the smallest yet Earth-like planet outside our Solar System. The new planet has five times the Earth's mass and can be found about 25,000 light-years away, close to the centre of the Milky Way. The discovery, reported in the journal Nature, was made using a method called microlensing which can detect far-off planets with an Earth-like mass. The planet's cold temperatures make the chance of finding life very unlikely. The planet, which goes by the name OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb, takes about 10 years to orbit its parent star, a red dwarf which is similar to the Sun but cooler and smaller.

Read more. Source: BBC

Pioneer 10 adrift in the Galaxy
Gravity theory dispenses with dark matter
(Jan 25, 2006)

A modified theory of gravity that incorporates quantum effects can explain a trio of puzzling astronomical observations – including the wayward motion of the Pioneer spacecraft in our solar system, new studies claim. The work appears to rule out the need to invoke dark matter or another alternative gravity theory called MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics). But other experts caution it has yet to pass the most crucial test – how to account for the afterglow of the big bang.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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