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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: June 2007
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Bluish areas are on the wall of Endurance Crater and are therefore not water as two researchers originally claimed
No puddles on Mars
(Jun 13, 2007)


It was an astonishing claim: Mars may have puddles of liquid water on its surface today. That was the conclusion Ron Levin and Daniel Lyddy of Lockheed Martin in Arizona, recently came to after analysing an image taken by NASA's Opportunity rover [see story below]. But it turns out the claim is impossible: the terrain in question is on the side of a crater, and is therefore sloped too greatly for water to pool into puddles.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Titan
Mysterious signal hints at subsurface ocean on Titan
(Jun 12, 2007)


The tentative detection of low frequency radio waves on Saturn's icy moon, Titan, could signal an underground ocean of liquid water, a new study says. If so, it would be good news for the possibility of life beneath the surface of this bizarre world.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Atlantis docked with the International Space Station
Shuttle docks with space station
(Jun 11, 2007)


Space shuttle Atlantis has docked with the International Space Station (ISS), on the first shuttle mission of 2007. The craft locked onto the station at 1938 GMT, 220 miles (354km) above the western Pacific Ocean. NASA scientists have been examining damage to the shuttle's thermal blanket sustained during take-off on Friday. NASA said it did not consider the damage to be significant. A spokesman said: "We do not see any cause for concern right now."

Read more. Source: BBC

Engineers spotted this tear in Atlantis' thermal blanket while viewing photos taken by the shuttle's crew
Shuttle docking a 'go' despite gap in heat blanket
(Jun 10, 2007)


The space shuttle Atlantis is charging toward its Sunday rendezvous with the international space station, apparently unaffected by a small gap in its heat-protecting blanket. Atlantis' seven astronauts spent much of Saturday on a mandatory inspection of the shuttle's delicate heat tiles, outer edges and blankets for problems similar to the kind that caused the fatal Columbia accident in 2003.

Read more. Source: CNN/AP

Bluish areas on floor of Endurance Crater could be ponds, according to two scientists. The area is approximately 1 square meter. Image: Ron Levin
Mars rover finds "puddles" on the planet's surface
(Jun 9, 2007)


A new analysis of pictures taken by the exploration rover Opportunity reveals what appear to be small ponds of liquid water on the surface of Mars. The report identifies specific spots that appear to have contained liquid water two years ago, when Opportunity was exploring a crater called Endurance. It is a highly controversial claim, as many scientists believe that liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars today because of the planetís thin atmosphere.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Launch of Atlantis
Shuttle heads for space station
(Jun 9, 2007)
Space shuttle Atlantis has launched from the US Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the first mission of 2007. The shuttle took off in clear weather. It reached orbit less than nine minutes after lift-off, NASA said. The seven astronauts aboard Atlantis will fly to the International Space Station to continue installation work, including a new pair of solar panels.

Read more. Source: BBC

A pair of black holes stir up gas as they spiral towards one another in a computer simulation. Image: Lucio Mayer et al
Black holes may be snared by interstellar gas
(Jun 8, 2007)


Supermassive black holes could be forced to collide by the gentle drag from interstellar gas, new computer simulations suggest. That's good news for an experiment being designed to look for gravitational waves, as they should be emitted when black holes collide.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

In the center of this star cluster is the pair of stars A1. Image: HST
Star duo are biggest yet
(Jun 8, 2007)
The two most massive stars ever discovered are circling each other 20,000 light years away near the centre of the Milky Way. The heavier of the two is 114 times as massive as the Sun – so big that according to some astronomers it should have blown itself to pieces.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

The most distant quasar yet discovered. Image: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
New quasar is the oldest yet
(Jun 7, 2007)


When is two million light years just a whisker's breadth? When you're talking about which of two quasars 13 billion light years away is the most distant ever discovered. The new record breaker, just, was announced today by Chris Willott of the University of Ottawa in Canada. Even this incremental increase in distance promises some new insight into the "dark ages" of the early universe.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

recent landslide in Zunil crater
Landslides old and new found on Mars
(Jun 6, 2007)


It looks like someone has been painting blue streaks on the wall of this Martian crater. But in fact this is a false colour picture from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, showing areas recently disturbed by an avalanche. The crater, called Zunil, is 10 kilometres wide and lies just north of Mars's equator.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

J0034-00
Cold object delights astronomers
(Jun 5, 2007)


Astrophysicists have found a star-like object with a surface temperature just one tenth that of the Sun. The cold object is known as a brown dwarf: a "failed" star that never achieved the mass required to begin nuclear fusion reactions in its core. This one – called J0034-00 – is thought to have a surface temperature of just 600-700 Kelvin (up to 430C/800F). It is the coldest solitary brown dwarf ever seen, according to the British team that discovered it.

Read more. Source: BBC

Willman 1 galaxy
Smallest galaxy hints at hidden population
(Jun 4, 2007)


New measurements of a faint companion to the Milky Way suggest that it is by far the smallest galaxy ever found. The discovery hints that many more very small and dim galaxies may be lurking out there.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Star Trek transporter
Breakthrough brings 'Star Trek' teleport a step closer
(Jun 4, 2007)


Scientists have set a new record in sending information through thin air using the revolutionary technology of quantum teleportation – although Mr Spock may have to wait a little longer for a Scotty to beam him up with it. A team of physicists has teleported data over a distance of 89 miles from the Canary Island of La Palma to the neighbouring island of Tenerife, which is 10 times further than the previous attempt at teleportation through free space.

Read more. Source: The Indepndent

Local Void
Dwarf-flinging void is larger than thought
(Jun 2, 2007)


A galaxy is flying at high speed out of a vast empty region of space called the Local Void, according to a new study. It implies that the void is even larger than previously realised, the authors say – unless repulsive dark energy can pool in such regions.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Atlantis
NASA names shuttle launch date
(Jun 2, 2007)


After weeks of delay, space shuttle Atlantis has finally been given a launch date for its mission to the International Space Station (ISS). US space agency officials said the blast-off was scheduled for 8 June from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The orbiter will deliver new equipment to the space station.

Read more. Source: BBC

Astronomers took advantage of the wide separation between the Spitzer Space Telescope and Earth to measure the distance to a dark object in the outer reaches of the Milky Way (Illustration: Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle/SSC)
MACHO matter is running out of places to hide
(Jun 1, 2007)


"Dark objects" lurking in the outskirts of the Milky Way are running out of places to hide. Astronomers have successfully measured the distance to one such object – probably a pair of orbiting black holes – for the first time, by triangulating observations made on Earth and in space. The novel technique could reveal how many of these dark objects are out there.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Altair surface features
Secrets of Sun-like star probed
(Jun 1, 2007)


The first image of the surface of a Sun-like star has been captured. It confirms that Altair, one of the brightest stars in the night sky, is a rapidly spinning, non-spherical body. Until now, telescopes have only been powerful enough to zoom in on the Sun or on rare giant stars outside of the Solar System. But researchers, writing in the journal Science, say they got around this problem by combining the light from four separate telescopes.

Read more. Source: BBC

artist concept of TrES-3
Massive transiting planet with 31-hour year found around distant star
(Jun 1, 2007)


An international team of astronomers with the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey announced the discovery of their third planet, TrES-3. "TrES-3 is an unusual planet as it orbits its parent star in just 31 hours!," said Georgi Mandushev, Lowell Observatory astronomer. "That is to say, the year on this planet lasts less than one and a third days."

Read more. Source: Lowell Observatory

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