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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: February 2007
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Antarctica
Antarctic water world uncovered
(Feb 17, 2007)


Giant "blisters" containing water that rapidly expand and contract have been mapped beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Fed by a complex network of rivers, the subglacial reservoirs force the overlying ice to rise and fall. By tracking these changes with NASA's Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) scientists were able to map the extent of the subglacial plumbing.

Read more. Source: BBC

asteroid Mathilde
Action plan for killer asteroids
(Feb 17, 2007)


A draft UN treaty to determine what would be have to be done if a giant asteroid was on a collision course with Earth is to be drawn up this year. The document would set out global policies including who should be in charge of plans to deflect any object. It is the brainchild of the Association of Space Explorers, a professional body for astronauts and cosmonauts.

Read more. Source: BBC

LIGO
Gravitational wave observatories to join forces
(Feb 16, 2007)


Detecting ripples in space-time is a step closer to reality now that the world's most sensitive observatories have joined forces. The collaboration boosts the chances that gravitational waves could be detected in the next four years. Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time that expand outwards at the speed of light from violent events like supernovae and mergers of pairs of black holes and neutron stars.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Victoria Crater, which NASA's Opportunity rover is exploring, displays a fossilized fracture on its eastern edge
Underground pipes channelled water on Mars
(Feb 15, 2007)


Water may have once flowed several kilometres beneath the surface of Mars in underground piping, according to new images of pipe-like fractures in bedrock taken by the most powerful camera in orbit around Mars. Scientists have typically focused their hunt for signs of water on Mars on potential riverbeds, lakebeds and gullies. Now, these fractures could give planetary scientists a new place to look for signs of past water – and potentially life.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

computer simulation of a dwarf spheroidal
Light is shed on darkest galaxies
(Feb 15, 2007)


The mystery of how the darkest galaxies in the Universe came to exist may have been solved by scientists. Dwarf spheroidals are galaxies composed almost entirely of dark matter; faint examples have been discovered orbiting the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies. Scientists believe these dark systems were once gas-rich, but as they became satellites of larger galaxies, most of their visible matter was stripped away.

Read more. Source: BBC

Large Hadron Collider
Atom smasher may give birth to 'Black Saturns'
(Feb 14, 2007)


If we ever make black holes on Earth, they might be much stranger objects than the star-swallowing monsters known to exist in space. According to a new theory, any black hole that pops out of the Large Hadron Collider under construction in Switzerland might be surrounded by a black ring – forming a microscopic "black Saturn".

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Helix Nebula
Comet clash kicks up dusty haze
(Feb 13, 2007)


Collisions between comets may be kicking up copious amounts of dust observed around a dead star. This has surprised astronomers, because when the star died and expelled its outer layers, the dust in this system should have been blown away. A favoured explanation is that the dust is being freshly churned up by comets smashing into each other in the outer fringes of the white dwarf's system.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mars contour map
Red Planet 'hiking maps' produced
(Feb 13, 2007)


Scientists using data from a European space probe orbiting Mars have produced new topographic maps of the Red Planet. The "hiker's maps" provide detailed height contours and names of geological features on the Martian surface. The European Space Agency, which compiled the maps, said it hoped the maps would become a standard reference for future research on the Red Planet.

Read more. Source: BBC

center of Milky Way
Milky Way's black hole the ultimate particle accelerator
(Feb 12, 2007)


Our galaxy's supermassive black hole is responsible for the mysterious gamma-ray emission from the galactic centre, a new study suggests. Churning magnetic fields around the monster black hole may act like a giant particle accelerator, leading to high-speed collisions that produce the gamma rays.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Enceladus
Saturn moon 'sandblasts' its neighbours white
(Feb 10, 2007)


Particles spewed from Saturn's moon Enceladus are sandblasting neighbouring moons, leaving them sparklingly bright, a new study reveals. If life exists beneath the surface of Enceladus, these particles might be spreading it to other moons, scientists say.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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