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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: December 2007
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3C321 system
Galaxy is 'blasted' by black hole
(Dec 17, 2007)

A powerful jet of particles from a supermassive black hole has been seen blasting a nearby galaxy, according to findings from the US space agency. Galaxies have been seen colliding before, but this is the first time this type of galactic violence has been seen by astronomers. This could have a profound effect on any planets in the jet's path and could also trigger a burst of star formation.

Read more. Source: BBC

Sodium issue clouds Enceladus
(Dec 17, 2007)

An ocean is not the source of the jets emanating from Saturn's moon Enceladus, a new study concludes. The research questions the moon's promise as a target in the search for life beyond Earth and has stirred controversy among scientists who dispute its conclusions. A chemical analysis of Enceladus, led by University of Colorado planetary scientist Nick Schneider, failed to detect sodium, an element scientists say should be in a body of water that has had billions of years of contact with rock.

Read more. Source: BBC

Antarctic sub to test waters for Jupiter moon mission
(Dec 15, 2007)

A robotic submarine designed to explore the oceans thought to lie beneath the icy crust on Jupiter's moon Europa will prove its mettle in an Antarctic lake in 2008. A previous version of the vessel has already mapped the balmier waters of a Mexican sinkhole.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Saturn's rings
Saturn's rings 'may live forever'
(Dec 13, 2007)

Saturn's rings may be much older than we thought, scientists say. New data from the Cassini probe shows these thin bands of orbiting particles were probably there billions years ago, and are likely to be very long-lived. It means we are not in some special time – the giant planet has most likely always provided a stunning view.

Read more. Source: BBC

The Milky Way appears to have two different stellar halos, eaching rotating in a different direction. Credit: SDSS-II/Masashi Chiba/Tohoku University
Milky Way's two stellar halos have opposing spins
(Dec 13, 2007)

We call it home, but the Milky Way can still surprise us. It does not have just one halo of stars, as we thought, but two. The finding calls into question our theories for how our galaxy formed. Daniela Carollo at the Torino Observatory in Italy and her colleagues were measuring the metal content and motion of 20,000 stars in the Milky Way, observed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, when they made their discovery.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

mammoth tusk markings
Great beasts peppered from space
(Dec 12, 2007)

Startling evidence has been found which shows mammoth and other great beasts from the last ice age were blasted with material that came from space. Eight tusks dating to some 35,000 years ago all show signs of having being peppered with meteorite fragments. The ancient remains come from Alaska, but researchers also have a Siberian bison skull with the same pockmarks.

Read more. Source: BBC

silica deposits on Mars
Mars robot unearths microbe clue
(Dec 11, 2007)

NASA says its robot rover Spirit has made one of its most significant discoveries on the surface of Mars. Scientists believe a patch of ground disturbed by the vehicle shows evidence of a past environment that would have been perfect for microbial life. The deposits were probably produced when hot spring water or steam came into contact with volcanic rocks.

Read more. Source: BBC

Earthlike planet
'Twilight zones' on scorched planets could support life
(Dec 11, 2007)

Rocky extrasolar planets thought to be half frozen and half scorched might instead rock back and forth, creating large swaths of twilight with temperatures suitable for life. Because of gravitational tugs with the objects they orbit, rocky bodies often settle into trajectories in which they always show the same face to their hosts.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Voyager 2 probe reaches solar system boundary
(Dec 10, 2007)

The Voyager 2 spacecraft has crossed an important space frontier called the termination shock, and in a few years may become the first object made by humans to travel outside the solar system. NASA's two Voyager spacecraft were launched in 1977 to tour the outer solar system. They are now far beyond the orbits of the outermost planets and heading towards interstellar space.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Atlantis on the launch pad
Shuttle launch delayed until 2008
(Dec 9, 2007)

NASA has delayed launch of the Atlantis shuttle until 2008 because of a persistent problem with a sensor on a fuel tank. Two attempts to launch the shuttle have been cancelled since Thursday, and only a few days remained for launch in the current window. The 11-day mission was due to deliver Europe's first permanent space lab to the International Space Station.

Read more. Source: BBC

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