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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2006
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meteorite
Meteorites carry ancient carbon
(May 9, 2006)


Meteorites that have fallen to Earth contain some of the most primitive stuff of life, a new study has found. Contrary to popular belief, they are packed with ancient carbon-rich (organic) molecules that were essential for life to get started on Earth. Until now, it was thought such matter, which was formed before our Solar System came into existence, could only be found in interstellar dust. The Carnegie Institution of Washington study is reported in Science magazine.

Read more. Source: BBC

dolphins
Dolphins 'have their own names'
(May 9, 2006)


Dolphins communicate like humans by calling each other by name, scientists in Fife have found. The mammals are able to recognise themselves and other members of the same species as individuals with separate identities. St Andrews University researchers studying in Florida discovered bottlenose dolphins used names rather than sound to identify each other. The three-year-study was funded by the Royal Society of London.

Read more. Source: BBC

Anousheh Ansari
X Prize sponsor may be first female space tourist
(May 8, 2006)


One of the main backers of the Ansari X Prize could be the first female space tourist and travel to the International Space Station in 2007, Russia's space agency Roskosmos said on Friday. Anousheh Ansari, the 38-year-old head of Telecom Technologies in the US, helped sponsor the the $10 million prize awarded in 2004 to the first private company to send a reusable piloted spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. Now the Iranian-born US citizen will begin training for her own trip to space.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Lunar Lander Challenge
Lunar lander is NASA's biggest 'challenge'
(May 8, 2006)


NASA will sponsor its largest ever competition – with prizes totalling $2.5 million – to develop rockets capable of landing on the Moon, agency officials announced on Friday. The "Lunar Lander Challenge" is the latest in the agency's Centennial Challenges programme, which aims to spur technological advances through prize competitions. But the top prizes in previous challenges – which include developing astronaut gloves – have been limited to $250,000.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

UFOs
UFO study finds no sign of aliens
(May 7, 2006)


A confidential Ministry of Defence report on Unidentified Flying Objects has concluded that there is no proof of alien life forms. In spite of the secrecy surrounding the UFO study, it seems citizens of planet Earth have little to worry about. The report, which was completed in 2000 and stamped "Secret: UK Eyes Only", has been made public for the first time. Only a small number of copies were produced and the identity of the man who wrote it has been protected.

Read more. Source: BBC

Detail from a Cassini radar image of sand dunes on Titan. (Photo: NASA/JPL)
Titan's seas are sand
(May 5, 2006)


Until a couple of years ago, scientists thought the dark equatorial regions of Titan might be liquid oceans. New radar evidence shows they are seas – but seas of sand dunes like those in the Arabian or Namibian Deserts, a University of Arizona member of the Cassini radar team and colleagues report in Science (May 5). Radar images taken when the Cassini spacecraft flew by Titan last October show dunes 330 feet (100 meters) high that run parallel to each other for hundreds of miles at Titan's equator.

Read more. Source: Univ. of Arizona

Burt Rutan
Spaceship guru roasts his rivals
(May 5, 2006)


X Prize winner Burt Rutan took humorous aim at virtually everyone else in the space business Thursday, throwing zingers at NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and his competitors in the nascent space tourism industry – many of whom were in the audience. The designer of the first private-sector rocket plane to reach outer space drew laughter – and a few winces – during a luncheon address here at the International Space Development Conference.

Read more. Source: MSNBC

Red Spot Junior
Hubble watches Jupiter's 'red spot races'
(May 5, 2006)


Hubble has sent back the clearest pictures yet of Jupiter's new red spot. The storm, dubbed "Red Spot Junior" is roughly half the diameter of the Great Red Spot, a huge storm that has churned away on Jupiter for at least 400 years – when humans first started observing the gas giant planet.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

galaxy cluster
'Cyclic universe' can explain cosmological constant
(May 5, 2006)


A cyclic universe, which bounces through a series of big bangs and "big crunches", could solve the puzzle of our cosmological constant, physicists suggest. The cosmological constant represents the energy of empty space, and is thought to be the most likely explanation for the observed speeding up of the expansion of the universe. But its measured value is a googol (1 followed by 100 zeroes) times smaller than that predicted by particle physics theories. It is a discrepancy that gives cosmologists a real headache.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Thalassocalyce
Deep ocean trawl nets new 'bugs'
(May 5, 2006)


A three-week voyage of discovery in the Atlantic has returned with tiny animals which appear new to science. They include waif-like plankton with delicate translucent bodies related to jellyfish, hundreds of microscopic shrimps, and several kinds of fish. The voyage is part of the ongoing Census of Marine Life (CoML) which aims to map ocean life throughout the world.

Read more. Source: BBC

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