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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: March 2007
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Enceladus
A hot start might explain geysers on Enceladus
(Mar 13, 2007)


A hot start billions of years ago might have set into motion the forces that power geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus. "Deep inside Enceladus, our model indicates we've got an organic brew, a heat source and liquid water, all key ingredients for life," said Dr. Dennis Matson, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "And while no one is claiming that we have found life by any means, we probably have evidence for a place that might be hospitable to life."

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Cassini
Major space missions move ahead
(Mar 12, 2007)


The European and US space agencies are moving ahead on their next major missions to explore the Solar System. NASA has begun choosing a destination for a "flagship" robotic venture along the lines of Cassini-Huygens, which has been exploring Saturn and its moons. It is considering four targets: the Jupiter system, Jupiter's moon Europa, and Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan.

Read more. Source: BBC

first Skynet 5 launch
British Skynet satellite launched
(Mar 12, 2007)


The British military's Skynet 5 satellite has been launched into space from Kourou in French Guiana. The spacecraft is part of a 3.2bn system that will deliver secure, high-bandwidth communications for UK and allied forces. Sunday's lift-off came 24 hours after a first attempt was thwarted by a technical glitch in ground equipment.

Read more. Source: BBC

asteroid impact
Could Venus watch for Earth-bound asteroids?
(Mar 10, 2007)


A dedicated space-based telescope is needed to achieve a congressionally mandated goal of discovering 90% of all near-Earth asteroids down to a size of 140 metres by the year 2020, says a report NASA sent to the US Congress on Thursday. Asteroids of that size are large enough to destroy a major city or region if they strike the planet – but NASA says it does not have the money to pay for the project. The study says Venus is the best place for the telescope.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

ASTRO and NextSat
'Grease monkey' satellite set for space tune-up
(Mar 9, 2007)


A 'mechanic' satellite designed to refuel and repair a partner in space is set to launch on Thursday. The feats would be the first of their kind and will lay the groundwork for future autonomous robotic missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. The US military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency plans to launch its two Orbital Express satellites on an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

asteroid Mathilde
Light puts asteroids into a spin
(Mar 7, 2007)


The constant bombardment of billions of tiny particles from the Sun is shaping the Solar System, studies have shown. As the fine solar shower rains down on objects, such as asteroids, it can steadily alter their orbit and spin. Although the mechanism that describes the effect has been known for many years, it has never been seen.

Read more. Source: BBC

China in space
China confirms Moon probe in 2007
(Mar 6, 2007)


China will launch its first lunar probe this year, and expects to be able to land a man on the Moon within 15 years, a senior space official has confirmed. The Chang'e-1 lunar probe will be launched later this year aboard a Long March 3A rocket. The probe will provide 3D images of the Moon, survey the lunar landscape, study lunar microwaves and estimate the thickness of the Moon's soil.

Read more. Source: BBC

Pioneer trajectories
Computer sleuths try to crack Pioneer anomaly
(Mar 5, 2007)


Scientists and engineers remain on course in their efforts to determine what caused the twin Pioneer spacecraft to apparently drift off course by hundreds of thousands of kilometres during their three-decade missions. Within a year, they expect to be able to decide whether this drift was caused by a fault on the spacecraft.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

black hole particle accelerator
Milky Way black hole may be a colossal 'particle accelerator'
(Mar 5, 2007)


Scientists were startled when they discovered in 2004 that the center of our galaxy is emitting gamma rays with energies in the tens of trillions of electronvolts. Now astrophysicists at The University of Arizona, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Adelaide have discovered a mechanism that might produce these high-energy gamma rays. The black hole at the center of our Milky Way could be working like a cosmic particle accelerator, revving up protons that smash at incredible speeds into lower energy protons and creating high-energy gamma rays, they report.

Read more. Source: University of Arizona

lunar eclipse
lunar eclipse
Images of March 3 eclipse
Credit: Jeff Darling,
www.diseno-art.com

Lunar eclipse wows sky watchers
(Mar 4, 2007)


Sky watchers across the world have been enjoying the first total lunar eclipse in more than three years. The eclipse began at 2018 GMT, with the Moon totally immersed in the shadow of the Earth between 2244 and 2358 GMT. During "totality" the moon appeared reddish in colour, as only light that had been filtered through the Earth's atmosphere reached the Moon's surface. The eclipse was visible from the whole of Europe, Africa, South America, and eastern parts of the US and Canada.

Read more. Source: BBC

STEREO image of the Sun
Spacecraft return Sun panoramas
(Mar 3, 2007)


Twin NASA spacecraft have returned panoramic images that will help scientists to study solar explosions capable of causing havoc on Earth. The STEREO orbiters, which are nearing their final positions, will study violent solar eruptions known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). CMEs hurl energetic particles at Earth that can disrupt power grids and satellite communications.

Read more. Source: BBC

Tvashtar's plume imaged by New Horizons
Probe spies moon's volcanic plume
(Mar 2, 2007)


NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has sent back images of a huge volcanic eruption on Jupiter's moon Io. A massive dust plume, estimated to be 150 miles (240km) high, can be seen erupting from Io's Tvashtar volcano. On Wednesday, the US probe flew by Jupiter, using the planet's gravity to boost its speed, reducing the travel time to its ultimate target of Pluto.

Read more. Source: BBC

Kirk and Spock
Star Trek film gets release date
(Mar 1, 2007)


The 11th Star Trek film, to be directed by Lost creator JJ Abrams, will be released in the US on Christmas Day 2008, Paramount Pictures has announced. The film, which will focus on the early lives of Captain James T Kirk and Mr Spock, will begin shooting this autumn. No further details have been announced and the movie has yet to be cast.

Read more. Source: BBC

ExoMars
Sensor being developed to check for life on Mars
(Mar 1, 2007)


NASA-funded researchers are refining a tool that could not only check for the faintest traces of life's molecular building blocks on Mars, but could also determine whether they have been produced by anything alive. The instrument, called Urey: Mars Organic and Oxidant Detector, has already shown its capabilities in one of the most barren climes on Earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Read more. Source: ESA/Spaceflight Now

Large lake and island on Titan
Titan: Larger and larger lakes
(Mar 1, 2007)


This radar image, obtained by Cassini's radar instrument during a near-polar flyby on Feb. 22, 2007, shows a big island smack in the middle of one of the larger lakes imaged on Saturn's moon Titan. This image offers further evidence that the largest lakes are at the highest latitudes. The island is about 90 kilometers (62 miles) by 150 kilometers (93 miles) across, about the size of Kodiak Island in Alaska or the Big Island of Hawaii.

Read more. Source: NASA-JPL

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