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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: July 2007
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Russian Mars simulator
Thousands apply for "voyage" to Mars
(Jul 13, 2007)


More than four-and-a half thousand people have applied to take part in a joint Russian-European venture in which six people will be locked inside a mock spacecraft for 520 days to simulate an expedition to Mars. Russia's space agency is sifting through piles of applications from would-be astronauts prepared to suffer extreme privation to test endurance levels for a Mars odyssey.

Read more. Source: Guardian

artist's concept of HD 189733b
Spitzer finds water vapor on a hot, alien planet
(Jul 12, 2007)


A scorching-hot gas planet beyond our solar system is steaming up with water vapor, according to new observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The planet, called HD 189733b, swelters as it zips closely around its star every two days or so. Astronomers had predicted that planets of this class, termed "hot Jupiters," would contain water vapor in their atmospheres.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now / University of Arizona

giant exoplanet
Survey shows that giant outer extrasolar planets are rare
(Jul 12, 2007)


Astronomers who used powerful telescopes in Arizona and Chile in a survey for planets around nearby stars have discovered that extrasolar planets more massive than Jupiter are extremely rare in other outer solar systems. University of Arizona astronomers and their collaborators just concluded a benchmark three-year survey using direct detection techniques sensitive to planets farther from their stars.

Read more. Source: University of Arizona

Sun
'No sun link' to climate change
(Jul 11, 2007)


A new scientific study concludes that changes in the Sun's output cannot be causing modern-day climate change. It shows that for the last 20 years, the Sun's output has declined, yet temperatures on Earth have risen. It also shows that modern temperatures are not determined by the Sun's effect on cosmic rays, as has been claimed.

Read more. Source: BBC

Abell 1689
Baby galaxies sighted at dawn of universe
(Jul 11, 2007)


Astronomers have spotted the most distant galaxies known, from an era when the universe was just 4% its present age. Objects like these could be responsible for lifting the veil on the so-called cosmic 'dark ages', by making the universe transparent to light. Because it takes light from distant galaxies billions of years to reach us, we see them as they were long ago, when the universe was much younger. [Image: The new galaxies were found with the help of gravitational lensing such as that caused by the galaxy cluster Abell 1689, shown here.]

Read more. Source: New Scientist

M51 spiral galaxy
Scientists seek galaxy hunt help
(Jul 11, 2007)


A new project known as Galaxy Zoo is calling on members of the public to log on to its website and help classify one million galaxies. The hope is that about 30,000 people might take part in a project that could help reveal whether our existing models of the Universe are correct. Computer users undergo a three-minute online tutorial and are then allocated a series of images and asked to decide whether each one shows a spiral or an elliptical galaxy.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mars Science Laboratory
NASA may alter Mars rover to aid sample return mission
(Jul 10, 2007)


NASA may alter the design of its upcoming Mars Science Laboratory rover so it will not only crush and analyse soil and rocks on the Red Planet, but will also store samples for a future mission to deliver to Earth. The possible change could shorten the wait time for a Mars sample return mission, which a new report ranks as the highest scientific priority for future Mars missions.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Phoenix lander
Phoenix Mars lander prepared to weather dust storms
(Jul 9, 2007)


Scientists handling the next Mars mission say the only way a significant dust storm like the one raging on Mars in recent days could seriously harm their spacecraft is if one were to suddenly whip up during the critical descent phase. The dust storm currently engulfing the southern hemisphere of Mars and threatening two robotic surface rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, comes as NASA's Phoenix lander is gearing up for an Aug. 3 launch.

Read more. Source: space.com

Deep Impact
NASA gives two successful spacecraft new assignments
(Jul 7, 2007)


Two NASA spacecraft now have new assignments after successfully completing their missions. The duo will make new observations of comets and characterize extrasolar planets. Stardust and Deep Impact will use their flight-proven hardware to perform new, previously unplanned, investigations.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now / NASA

Mars, Jun. 23, 2007Mars, Jun. 26, 2007
On June 23, the storm appears as a bright red blemish, northeast of the planet's center. On June 26, 2007, it has more than quadrupled in size. Credit: Paul Maxson
Raging dust storm halts Mars rover's progress
(Jul 6, 2007)


A huge dust storm has broken out on Mars, cutting solar power to NASA's Opportunity rover and preventing it from starting its planned descent into Victoria crater. Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, which is exploring the opposite side of the planet, depend on solar energy for their power. Dust storms are therefore a problem because they obscure the Sun, reducing the amount of power available to the rovers.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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