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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: January 2007
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surface of Mars, Viking photo
New analysis of Viking mission results points to possible presence of life on Mars
(Jan 8, 2007)


We may already have ‘met’ Martian organisms, according to a paper presented Sunday (Jan. 7) at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle. Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University and Joop Houtkooper of Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany, argue that even as new missions to Mars seek evidence that the planet might once have supported life, we already have data showing that may show life exists there now – data from experiments done by the Viking Mars landers in the late 1970s.

Read more. Source: University of Washington

Hubble dark matter map
Hubble makes 3D dark matter map
(Jan 7, 2007)


Astronomers have mapped the cosmic "scaffold" of dark matter upon which stars and galaxies are assembled. Dark matter does not reflect or emit detectable light, yet it accounts for most of the mass in the Universe. The study, published in Nature journal, provides the best evidence yet that the distribution of galaxies follows the distribution of dark matter.

Read more. Source: BBC

Canes Venatici II galaxy
Dying galaxy destined to be reborn
(Jan 6, 2007)


A dying galaxy near the Milky Way appears to be sowing the seeds of its own rebirth and may hold the secret to the apparent reincarnation of several other similar galaxies. The phoenix-like process may also help resolve a longstanding mystery about missing dark matter clumps near the Milky Way.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

lakes on Titan
'Proof' of methane lakes on Titan
(Jan 4, 2007)


The Cassini probe has spotted what scientists say is unequivocal evidence of lakes of liquid methane on Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Radar images reveal dark, smooth patches that range in size from three to 70km across (two to 44 miles). The team says the features, which were spied in the moon's far north, look like crater or caldera lakes on Earth.

Read more. Source: BBC

Goddard development vehicle
Amazon boss shows off spacecraft
(Jan 4, 2007)


The billionaire founder of amazon.com has released the first images of the launch of a private spacecraft that could bring space travel to the masses. A video of the cone-shaped Goddard vehicle shows it climbing to 285 feet (85m) before returning back to earth. The test launch took place in November 2006 in a remote part of Texas, but details have only now been released.

Read more. Source: BBC

globular cluster, NGC 6397
First black hole found in globular star cluster
(Jan 4, 2007)


A black hole has been found slowly devouring a companion star at the heart of a dense star cluster providing the first clear sign that black holes inhabit the dense stellar cities known as globular clusters. Strong evidence for colossal black holes weighing millions or billions of times the Sun's mass has been found at the centres of galaxies. And smaller black holes have been discovered in a range of environments, including within the spiral arms of the Milky Way.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

supernova 2006gy
Brightest supernova discovery hints at stellar collision
(Jan 4, 2007)


A supernova intrinsically two to three times brighter than any previously recorded has been observed, and its characteristics suggest it did not form like others of its class. It appears to have been forged in a collision between two stars, adding fuel to a long-running debate about what causes the type Ia explosions that are a crucial tool in cosmology.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Mars Exploration Rover
Mars rover tries to weather dust storm
(Jan 3, 2007)


NASA's newly upgraded Spirit rover will celebrate its third anniversary on the Martian surface hunkered down to weather a dust storm. The rover parachuted down to Mars's Gusev Crater on 3 January 2004. Its twin, Opportunity, caught up and landed on the other side of the planet 21 days later. Early last week, Spirit's instruments detected hazy conditions due to a large dust storm to the south that was churning up fine dust grains high in the atmosphere.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Pluto and Charon, artwork
2006: The year in astronomy
(Jan 1, 2007)


The year 2006 was one of things lost and found. The solar system lost its former ninth planet and NASA lost a long-serving Mars probe, but scientists found good evidence for dark matter, signs of liquid water flows on present-day Mars, and a planet just a few times more massive than Earth around another star.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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