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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: September 2006
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asteroid Itokawa
Mysterious bright patches on asteroids explained
(Sep 7, 2006)


Asteroids gradually become coated with iron dust in space, becoming darker and redder with time, close-up observations of the asteroid Itokawa suggest. This confirms long-held suspicions about why asteroids look different than the space rocks that land on Earth as meteorites.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Atlantis on launchpad
Shuttle Atlantis launch delayed
(Sep 6, 2006)


NASA has postponed the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis due to a technical problem with the spacecraft's onboard power supply, officials say. Atlantis had been scheduled for a 1229 (1629 GMT) lift-off on Wednesday from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. The space agency said it would now try to launch the shuttle on Thursday.

Read more. Source: BBC

Iapetus
New attempts to crack Saturn's 'walnut' moon
(Sep 5, 2006)


The mysterious equatorial ridge on Saturn's moon Iapetus is either a fossil ring system that fell to the surface, or a pile up of crustal rocks formed as the satellite changed its shape. These are the latest theories from planetary scientists. The ridge, revealed by the Cassini probe, is unlike anything else in the solar system. It is up to 20 kilometres high and stretches 1300 km along the moon's equator, resembling the ridge on a walnut.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Moon for sale
I'd buy you the Moon
(Sep 4, 2006)


Why not buy some land on the Moon? There seems to be plenty available on the Internet, including plots going at a bargain 14.25 per acre (plus tax and fees) from the Lunar Embassy, the company selling the 'property' of American entrepreneur Dennis Hope, who infamously claimed practically all of the Solar System in 1980 because no one else had.

Read more. Source: Nature

space elevator
NASA hopes to catch an elevator to space
(Sep 3, 2006)


In a few weeks, scientists from across the world will gather in the New Mexico desert to compete for one of the strangest – and most ambitious – technological competitions ever devised. Some researchers will unveil robots, powered by solar panels, that will climb long lengths of cable. Others will demonstrate materials so light and strong that mile-long stretches of the stuff could be hung in the air without snapping.

Read more. Source: Observer

SMART-1
Moon probe set for impact finale
(Sep 2, 2006)


Europe's lunar satellite, the Smart 1 probe, is about to end its mission by crashing on to the Moon's surface. It will be a spectacular end for the robot which has spent the past 16 months testing innovative and miniaturised space technologies. Smart 1 has also produced detailed maps of the Moon's chemical make-up, to help refine theories about its birth. The impact, which will be watched by professional and amateur telescopes, is set for 0543 GMT (0643 BST) on Sunday.

Read more. Source: BBC

Pluto, artist's impression
Astronomers plot to overturn planet definition
(Sep 1, 2006)


Pluto's status could shift yet again, as astronomers are mounting a grassroots campaign to readdress the definition of a planet. More than 300 researchers have signed a statement denouncing the recently adopted definition that relegates Pluto to "dwarf planet" status, and some are planning a conference in 2007 to hash out an alternative definition.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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