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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: January 2007
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Virgin Galactic strikes deal with Swedish government Jan 30, 2007
Hubble's main camera shuts down Jan 30, 2007
Frozen sea may harbour Mars life Jan 29, 2007
Last-gasp test could reveal dark matter Jan 28, 2007
NASA studies early Moon shot for new space capsule Jan 27, 2007
Hints of huge water reservoirs on Mars Jan 26, 2007
Sun's fickle heart may leave us cold Jan 25, 2007
Moon astronauts face X-ray danger Jan 24, 2007
Exploding robots may scout hazardous asteroids Jan 23, 2007
Ride the ion train from the Moon to Earth Jan 22, 2007
Aliens need a lot more time to find us Jan 21, 2007
New Horizons targets Jupiter kick Jan 20, 2007
Astronomers map a hypergiant star's massive outbursts Jan 19, 2007
Planet-seeking satellite takes first images Jan 18, 2007
Dwarf planet 'becoming a comet' Jan 17, 2007
Launch of second inflatable spacecraft delayed Jan 17, 2007
Rare black diamonds may have come from space Jan 15, 2007
Gas giants jump into planet formation early Jan 15, 2007
Chandra discovers light echo from the Milky Way's black hole Jan 14, 2007
Mars probe may have spotted lost rover Jan 13, 2007
Supersonic gales rage on planets Jan 12, 2007
Dying star's wind creates planetary nursery Jan 11, 2007
Kepler's supernova may aid dark energy search Jan 10, 2007
Pluto probe begins close-up study of Jupiter Jan 10, 2007
Doom for Hubble's iconic pillars Jan 10, 2007
Speeding dwarfs upset galactic family picture Jan 10, 2007
Tiny galaxy hosts huge black hole Jan 10, 2007
Vast halo extends galaxy's size Jan 9, 2007
Neutron star may sport four magnetic poles Jan 9, 2007
Astronomers see first quasar trio Jan 9, 2007
New analysis of Viking mission results points to possible presence of life on Mars Jan 8, 2007
Hubble makes 3D dark matter map Jan 7, 2007
Dying galaxy destined to be reborn Jan 6, 2007
'Proof' of methane lakes on Titan Jan 4, 2007
Amazon boss shows off spacecraft Jan 4, 2007
First black hole found in globular star cluster Jan 4, 2007
Brightest supernova discovery hints at stellar collision Jan 4, 2007
Mars rover tries to weather dust storm Jan 3, 2007
2006: The year in astronomy Jan 1, 2007

Virgin Galactic spaceship
Virgin Galactic strikes deal with Swedish government
(Jan 30, 2007)

The Swedish government on Jan. 26 announced an agreement with suborbital space-tourism company Virgin Galactic that Swedish officials believe will lead to midsummer and mid-winter flights of Virgin's SpaceShipTwo vehicle to observe the Aurora Borealis from Sweden. The agreement, signed at the proposed future launch site in Kiruna, Sweden, calls for no exchange of funds.

Read more. Source:

Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble's main camera shuts down
(Jan 30, 2007)

The main camera on the Hubble space telescope has shut down after an electrical failure, NASA has said. Astronomers are calling the malfunction of the Advanced Camera for Surveys a "great loss" as it has taken the clearest pictures yet of the universe. Scientists for the US space agency said only one-third of the camera's capabilities are likely to be restored. A new camera is to be installed during a planned space shuttle mission to the Hubble telescope in 2008.

Read more. Source: BBC

Elysium Planitia
Frozen sea may harbour Mars life
(Jan 29, 2007)

A frozen sea found on Mars is one of the most promising places to look for life on the Red Planet, scientists say. But planned missions designed to search for microbes below the Martian surface will not drill deep enough to find living cells, the UK team has said. Researchers at University College London say that microbes in the first couple of metres of Martian soil would be killed off by intense radiation. Life might survive deeper down, where conditions are more benign, they think.

Read more. Source: BBC

HERA particle accelerator
Last-gasp test could reveal dark matter
(Jan 28, 2007)

The HERA particle accelerator in Germany is set to call it quits in June, but a lone physicist is now campaigning for HERA to have one last hurrah. He claims it could discover a particle believed by many to account for the unseen dark matter that constitutes the bulk of the universe's mass. The particle in question is the axion.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Aries V (left) and I rockets
NASA studies early Moon shot for new space capsule
(Jan 27, 2007)

NASA is studying a variant of its planned Ares 5 heavy-lift rocket that would enable an Apollo 8-like trip around the Moon in the 2015 time frame. Scott Horowitz, NASA’s associate administrator for exploration systems, said he asked engineers at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center to study a rocket design that would combine the Ares 5 main stage with the Ares 1 upper stage to permit an around-the-Moon-and-back shakeout flight of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle several years ahead of the first lunar landings.

Read more. Source:

artist's impression of past watery Mars
Hints of huge water reservoirs on Mars
(Jan 26, 2007)

Mars is losing little water to space, according to new research, so much of its ancient abundance may still be hidden beneath the surface. Dried up riverbeds and other evidence imply that Mars once had enough water to fill a global ocean more than 600 metres deep, together with a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide that kept the planet warm enough for the water to be liquid. But the planet is now very dry and has a thin atmosphere.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Sun's fickle heart may leave us cold
(Jan 25, 2007)

There's a dimmer switch inside the sun that causes its brightness to rise and fall on timescales of around 100,000 years – exactly the same period as between ice ages on Earth. So says a physicist who has created a computer model of our star's core. Robert Ehrlich of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, modelled the effect of temperature fluctuations in the sun's interior.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Astronauts exploring on the Moon's surface
Moon astronauts face X-ray danger
(Jan 24, 2007)

Future lunar astronauts could be harmed by X-ray outbursts from the Sun that occur without warning and can deliver dangerous doses of radiation in just a few minutes, a new study says. The researchers suggest that lunar rovers be equipped with metal shields that astronauts could duck behind during such events.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

A basketball-size robot sits on the surface of an asteroid after unfolding its spherical shell, while its parent spacecraft hovers in the background (Illustration: Ball Aerospace)
Exploding robots may scout hazardous asteroids
(Jan 23, 2007)

A fleet of exploding probes could prepare the way for warding off hazardous asteroids. Several of the small spherical robots would land on a single asteroid, some exploding while others listen for vibrations that could reveal the object's inner structure. NASA has a list of more than 800 asteroids considered to be potentially hazardous because their orbits carry them close to Earth's.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

ion beam propulsion
Ride the ion train from the Moon to Earth
(Jan 22, 2007)

Spacecraft could one day be propelled by ion beams shooting up from the Moon, according to a recent concept study. Other spacecraft, such as Deep Space 1 and SMART-1, have flown with ion engines, which work by stripping electrons off gas atoms and accelerating the ions with an electric field. The ions create thrust as they are shot out of the engine.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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