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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: March 2006
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black hole
Black holes: The ultimate quantum computers?
(Mar 13, 2006)


Nearly all of the information that falls into a black hole escapes back out, a controversial new study argues. The work suggests that black holes could one day be used as incredibly accurate quantum computers if enormous theoretical and practical hurdles can first be overcome. Black holes are thought to destroy anything that crosses a point of no return around them called an event horizon. But in the 1970s, Stephen Hawking used quantum mechanics to show black holes do emit radiation, which eventually evaporates them away completely.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Sun
Sun storms could bring power cuts
(Mar 12, 2006)


Space storms are heading our way. Astronomers have announced that the next five or six years will see some of the most intense solar fireworks witnessed on Earth in recent times. The good news is that these electrical eruptions will bring intense displays of the Northern and Southern Lights to low latitudes. Areas, including southern England, which normally never witness such glories, can expect to see major auroral events glittering in the night skies. On the down side, solar storms can also disrupt power generators and electronic instruments.

Read more. Source: Observer

launch of Ariane 5-ECA on March 11, 2006
Fourth flight for biggest Ariane
(Mar 12, 2006)


Europe's most powerful rocket - the Ariane 5-ECA – has launched two satellites from French Guiana. It lifted off from Kourou spaceport at 1932 local time (2232 GMT), carrying satellites for the Spanish defence ministry and a French telecoms company. The launch marked the Ariane 5's first flight this year and only the fourth for the 780-tonne heavy-lift version.

Read more. Source: BBC

Pluto and its moons
Pluto's moons share a family resemblance
(Mar 11, 2006)


All three of Pluto's moons are the same colour, reveal new observations with the Hubble Space Telescope. The finding bolsters the theory that they formed from the debris of a single large impact more than 4 billion years ago. Pluto is surrounded by a large moon, Charon, which at 1200 kilometres wide is about half the planet's diameter. But in 2005, astronomers using Hubble discovered Pluto is also orbited by two tiny moons dubbed S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Mars orbiter reaches Red Planet
(Mar 11, 2006)


NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has survived a critical phase in its mission by parking itself in an elliptical orbit around the Red Planet. News of its success followed a tense period of radio silence while the spacecraft passed behind Mars. Over the next six months, the probe will steadily reduce the size of its orbit until it reaches an optimal position to start scientific studies.

Read more. Source: BBC

black hole, artist's impression
Three cosmic enigmas, one audacious answer
(Mar 11, 2006)


Dark energy and dark matter, two of the greatest mysteries confronting physicists, may be two sides of the same coin. A new and as yet undiscovered kind of star could explain both phenomena and, in turn, remove black holes from the lexicon of cosmology. The audacious idea comes from George Chapline, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and Nobel laureate Robert Laughlin of Stanford University and their colleagues.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Enceladus
NASA's Cassini discovers potential liquid water on Enceladus
(Mar 10, 2006)


NASA's Cassini spacecraft may have found evidence of liquid water reservoirs that erupt in Yellowstone-like geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus. The rare occurrence of liquid water so near the surface raises many new questions about the mysterious moon. "We realize that this is a radical conclusion – that we may have evidence for liquid water within a body so small and so cold," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. "However, if we are right, we have significantly broadened the diversity of solar system environments where we might possibly have conditions suitable for living organisms."

Read more. Source: NASA

Radiation from hot stars is eroding the 'head' of star-forming region CG4 (Image: TA Rector/T Abbott/U Alaska/NOAO/AURA/NSF)
Cosmic 'eel' preys on spiral galaxy
(Mar 9, 2006)


A giant space "eel" appears to be chasing after a spiral galaxy in this newly released image from the Victor M. Blanco telescope in Chile. The eel is actually a type of small, isolated cloud of gas and dust, called a cometary globule because of its resemblance to a comet. Called CG4, it lies about 1300 light years from Earth towards the constellation Puppis, at the stern of the ship of the Argonauts (a former constellation called Argo Navis).

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Z machine
Record Set for Hottest Temperature on Earth: 3.6 Billion Degrees in Lab
(Mar 9, 2006)


Scientists have produced superheated gas exceeding temperatures of 2 billion degrees Kelvin, or 3.6 billion degrees Fahrenheit. This is hotter than the interior of our Sun, which is about 15 million degrees Kelvin, and also hotter than any previous temperature ever achieved on Earth, they say. They don't know how they did it. The feat was accomplished in the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories.

Read more. Source: LiveScience.com

Crew Exploration Vehicle, wind tunnel test
Wind tunnel tests for space shuttle successor
(Mar 8, 2006)


NASA researchers have begun wind tunnel simulations for the spaceship destined to replace the shuttle – the Crew Exploration Vehicle. The tests are simulating the air flow and temperature changes the vehicle might experience in atmospheric flight. The wind tunnel tests are using small-scale models of the crew capsule and launch vehicles. Following NASA Administrator Mike Griffin's announcement of the vehicles' basic architecture in September 2005, NASA released a "call for improvements" for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, a 5-metre-long crew capsule that Griffin has dubbed "Apollo on steroids".

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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