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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2006
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Satellite could open door on extra dimension May 31, 2006
Ariane lifts record dual payload May 31, 2006
Scientists predict how to detect a new dimension May 30, 2006
Mars robots to get smart upgrade May 29, 2006
Mysterious glowing clouds targeted by NASA May 27, 2006
Spotting the quantum tracks of gravity waves May 26, 2006
Lava tubes snapped snaking across Mars May 25, 2006
The kink at the edge of the solar system May 25, 2006
Fusion reactor work gets go-ahead May 25, 2006
Planet hunters bask in earthshine May 24, 2006
Galactic lens reveals its inner self May 24, 2006
The space elevator: going down? May 23, 2006
Powerful telescope set for Chile May 22, 2006
Cobbles in troughs between Meridiani ripples May 22, 2006
Space shuttle moved to launch pad May 21, 2006
Asteroid risk to Earth lowered, scientists say May 19, 2006
Planets found in potentially habitable setup May 18, 2006
Heat shields tested for shuttle replacement May 17, 2006
Looking for aliens on the Moon May 16, 2006
Penn State researchers look beyond the birth of the Universe May 16, 2006
Light's most exotic trick yet: So fast it goes ... backwards? May 16, 2006
Biggest map of Universe reveals colossal structures May 15, 2006
Record-breaking laser is hot stuff May 14, 2006
Comet break-up puts on sky show May 12, 2006
When is a black hole like a dripping faucet? May 11, 2006
How Neptune snagged a passing moon May 11, 2006
Relic of ancient asteroid found May 10, 2006
Space station loses orbit-boosting options May 10, 2006
Venus Express has reached final orbit May 10, 2006
Our galaxy's halo is round not squashed May 10, 2006
Meteorites carry ancient carbon May 9, 2006
Dolphins 'have their own names' May 9, 2006
X Prize sponsor may be first female space tourist May 8, 2006
Lunar lander is NASA's biggest 'challenge' May 8, 2006
UFO study finds no sign of aliens May 7, 2006
Titan's seas are sand May 5, 2006
Spaceship guru roasts his rivals May 5, 2006
Hubble watches Jupiter's 'red spot races' May 5, 2006
'Cyclic universe' can explain cosmological constant May 5, 2006
Deep ocean trawl nets new 'bugs' May 5, 2006
Saturn's rotation puts astronomers in a spin May 4, 2006
Preventing the sky falling in on Moon bases May 4, 2006
'Cloaking device' idea proposed May 3, 2006
Send-off for Europe's space lab May 3, 2006
Big new asteroid has slim chance of hitting Earth May 2, 2006
New Horizons in space: the first 100 days May 2, 2006
High-energy jets spew from short gamma-ray bursts May 1, 2006
Opportunity Passes 800 Sols On Mars May 1, 2006


gamma-ray burster, artist's impression
Satellite could open door on extra dimension
(May 31, 2006)


An exotic theory, which attempts to unify the laws of physics by proposing the existence of an extra fourth spatial dimension, could be tested using a satellite to be launched in 2007. Such theories are notoriously difficult to test. But a new study suggests that such hidden dimensions could give rise to thousands of mini-black holes within our own solar system – and the theory could be tested within Pluto’s orbit in just a few years.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Ariane 5-ECA launch
Ariane lifts record dual payload
(May 31, 2006)


Europe's Ariane 5-ECA rocket has set a new record for a commercial, dual-payload satellite launch. Saturday's flight lofted the Thaicom 5 and Satmex 6 spacecraft – a combined mass of 8.2 tonnes. The launch marked the Ariane 5's second flight this year and only the fifth in its heavy-lift configuration.

Read more. Source: BBC

braneworld art
Scientists predict how to detect a new dimension
(May 30, 2006)


Scientists at Duke and Rutgers universities have developed a mathematical framework they say will enable astronomers to test a new five-dimensional theory of gravity that competes with Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Charles Keeton of Rutgers and Arlie Petters of Duke base their work on a recent theory called the type II Randall-Sundrum braneworld gravity model. The theory holds that the visible universe is a membrane (hence "braneworld") embedded within a larger universe, much like a strand of filmy seaweed floating in the ocean.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now / Duke and Rutgers univ.

Mars Exploration Rover
Mars robots to get smart upgrade
(May 29, 2006)


The US space agency's rovers will get a software upgrade to allow them to make "intelligent" decisions in the study of Martian clouds and dust devils. The new algorithms will give the robots' computers the onboard ability to search through their images to find pictures that feature these phenomena. Only the most significant data will then be sent to Earth, maximising the scientific return from the missions.

Read more. Source: BBC

noctilucent cloud
Mysterious glowing clouds targeted by NASA
(May 27, 2006)


Glowing, silvery blue clouds that have been spreading around the world and brightening mysteriously in recent years will soon be studied in unprecedented detail by a NASA spacecraft. The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) mission will be the first satellite dedicated to studying this enigmatic phenomenon. Due to launch in late 2006, it should reveal whether the clouds are caused by global warming, as many scientists believe.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

gravity waves from a binary pulsar
Spotting the quantum tracks of gravity waves
(May 26, 2006)


The spooky link that can exist between quantum particles even when they are far apart could provide an unexpected way to detect the ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are set off by extreme events, such as supernova explosions, but they are weak and notoriously difficult to detect. Now a group of physicists is suggesting that the waves could leave their signature on "entangled" quantum particles lying in their path.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Lava tubes snake across the surface of Pavonis Mons in this perspective view from ESA's Mars Express spacecraft (Image: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/G Neukum)
Lava tubes snapped snaking across Mars
(May 25, 2006)


Dramatic 3D images of ancient lava tubes on the Martian volcano, Pavonis Mons, have been captured by the Mars Express spacecraft. Lava tubes are produced when lava on the top of a lava flow cools and forms a crust, while the subsurface lava remains molten. This molten lava continues to flow until the lava source is exhausted. In the case of Pavonis Mons, researchers believe the roofs of these tubes eventually collapsed, leaving long channels in the planet's surface.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Voyager
The kink at the edge of the solar system
(May 25, 2006)


The outer boundary of the solar system (see heliosphere) is distorted as though it has been punched from below. The evidence comes from NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft, which is about to cross the inner boundary even though it is closer to the sun than its twin spacecraft was when it crossed in 2004. The Voyager craft have been racing out of the solar system for 30 years.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

ITER
Fusion reactor work gets go-ahead
(May 25, 2006)


Seven international parties involved in an experimental nuclear fusion reactor project have initialled a 10bn-euro (£6.8bn) agreement on the plan. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) will be the most expensive joint scientific project after the International Space Station.

Read more. Source: BBC

Terrestrial Planet Finder visible-light coronagraph
Planet hunters bask in earthshine
(May 24, 2006)


Earth-like planets around distant stars may be too far away to be reached by spacecraft but scientists could still investigate whether they harbour life. Telescope technologies are being developed that will probe the very faint light from these objects for tell-tale signs of biology. These are the same "life markers" known to be present in light reflected off the Earth – so-called "earthshine".

Read more. Source: BBC

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