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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: November 2006
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space elevator
Space elevators: 'First floor, deadly radiation!'
(Nov 14, 2006)

Space elevators are touted as a novel and cheap way to get cargo, and possibly people, into space one day. So far, they have barely left the drawing board, but ultimately robots could climb a cable stretching 100,000 km from Earth's surface into space. But there is a hitch: humans might not survive thanks to the whopping dose of ionising radiation they would receive travelling through the core of the Van Allen radiation belts around Earth.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

I Love Lucy
Listening for ET’s television
(Nov 12, 2006)

The first episode of “I Love Lucy” was broadcast sometime on October 15, 1951. About 0.0002 seconds later, the signal glided over the rooftops of the farthest city suburbs, and headed into space. It’s still going. Every day, that first installment passes through an additional 4 thousand trillion trillion trillion cubic kilometers of the cosmos. Given that stars in our galactic neighborhood are separated by about 4 light-years, it’s easy to figure that roughly 10 thousand star systems have been exposed to “I Love Lucy” in the past five decades.

Read more. Source:

Victoria crater
Mars rover may get one-way ticket
(Nov 11, 2006)

The chief scientist on NASA's Mars rover mission is contemplating whether to send Opportunity into a large crater with no means of getting back out. The decision could commit the rover to spending its final days exploring Victoria Crater, a 60m-deep (200ft) depression on Mars' Meridiani plains.

Read more. Source: BBC

storm at Saturn's south pole
Huge 'hurricane' rages on Saturn
(Nov 10, 2006)

A hurricane-like storm, two-thirds the diameter of Earth, is raging at Saturn's south pole, new images from NASA's Cassini space probe reveal. Measuring 5,000 miles (8,000km) across, the storm is the first hurricane ever detected on a planet other than Earth.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mars Global Surveyor
NASA struggles to contact lost Mars probe
(Nov 10, 2006)

An unexpected break in communications has NASA struggling to restore contact with its Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. If communication cannot be restored soon, NASA may try to diagnose the problem by having another spacecraft, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, take pictures of MGS. MGS recently had its 10-year anniversary in space

Read more. Source: New Scientist

region of Moon where geological activity is suspected
How the Moon sheds its skin
(Nov 9, 2006)
Blasts of gas from deep beneath the lunar surface are giving the Moon a surprisingly fresh-faced look, suggests a new study. If they are, our picture of the Moon’s geological past will have to change just as dramatically. The Moon was thought to be geologically inactive.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

cluster of galaxies
Missing helium mystery solved: Big stars ate it
(Nov 8, 2006)

For years, astrophysicists have tried to reconcile a cosmic discrepancy: the universe held much less helium 3 gas than was predicted by models of stellar evolution. But by using new 3-dimensional models, scientists think they’ve discovered where all the helium 3 went – it was destroyed by the very stars that were thought to eject it into space, according to a new study.

Read more. Source:

Swift Explorer
Monster stellar flare seen by NASA scientists dwarfs all others
(Nov 7, 2006)

Scientists using NASA's Swift satellite have spotted a stellar flare on a nearby star so powerful that, had it been from our sun, it would have triggered a mass extinction on Earth. The flare was perhaps the most energetic magnetic stellar explosion ever detected. The flare was seen in December 2005 on a star slightly less massive than the sun, in a two-star system called II Pegasi in the constellation Pegasus.

Read more. Source: NASA

Arecibo radio telescope
World-class radio telescopes face closure
(Nov 6, 2006)

Two of the world's best-known radio observatories – the 305-metre Arecibo dish in Puerto Rico and a widespread collection of telescopes called the Very Long Baseline Array –– face the budgetary axe. Despite rising budgets, the astronomy division of the US National Science Foundation realised it could not afford to continue operating all its existing instruments while also building the new cutting-edge telescopes requested by astronomers, division director Wayne Van Citters said at a press conference on Friday.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Cosmos 1 solar sail
Solar sail mission to rise again?
(Nov 4, 2006)

The Planetary Society may once again try to fly a solar sail after a disappointing launch failure last year. This time, it is considering sending a new spacecraft built from spare parts to the Lagrange point L1 – an area in space where the gravity of the Sun and Earth are balanced.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Abell 3376
Shocked big bang gas a cosmic particle accelerator?
(Nov 3, 2006)

Giant shockwaves around a distant cluster of galaxies could be generating some of the mysterious cosmic rays that strike Earth. They could also give us a clue as to why the universe is threaded with magnetic fields. The cluster, called Abell 3376, is a swarm of galaxies about 600 million light years away.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Magellan radar map of Venus
Venus's surface may be much older than thought
(Nov 2, 2006)

The colossal outpouring of lava thought to have almost totally resurfaced Venus 500 million years ago never happened, a new study says. If correct, it means that a much longer record of Venus's history is preserved on the planet's surface. Planetary scientists estimated the age of Venus's surface after studying radar mapping data from NASA's Magellan spacecraft, which operated in the early 1990s.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Hubble Ultra Deep Field
New Hubble instruments would illuminate early universe
(Nov 1, 2006)

The Hubble Space Telescope will be able to see further back in time than ever before if it is fitted with two new instruments in a shuttle servicing mission. Hubble needs new gyroscopes and batteries to keep it working properly. Its existing gyroscopes, which allow Hubble to point steadily at a target, could expire by 2008 and its batteries could die by 2010.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Earthlike planet
Deep Impact's blurry camera may study exoplanets
(Nov 1, 2006)

An out-of-focus camera on NASA's comet-observing mission Deep Impact might be repurposed to study Earth-like planets around other stars. It is one of six mission concepts that received preliminary funding from the agency on Monday –– others include dropping a probe into Venus's atmosphere and returning a sample from an asteroid.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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