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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: November 2007
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Overview of the South Pole with the South Pole Station to the left of the runway and the IceCube construction site to the right. Image: Forest Banks/NSF
Giant 'IceCube' could take snaps of Earth’s core
(Nov 23, 2007)


A giant imaging machine buried in ice at the South Pole could one day create pictures of the Earth's core. According to a new calculation, the instrument – dubbed IceCube – could produce a picture of the Earth's dense iron core, silhouetted against the lighter rocky mantle.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Moon formation hypothesis
Moons like Earth's are few and far between
(Nov 21, 2007)


Moons created from massive collisions the way Earth's may have been, are a rarity in the universe, suggests a new study. Our Moon probably formed when a Mars-sized object slammed into the newly-formed Earth, spraying debris into space. Some of this then coalesced to form our Moon.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Chang'e I
Chinese lunar orbiter to begin observations
(Nov 20, 2007)


China's lunar orbiter is set to begin turning switching on its science instruments. The spacecraft should help determine the thickness of the lunar soil and shed new light on the Moon's internal composition, which could help in understanding its origins.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Pleiades
Planets forming in Pleiades star cluster
(Nov 20, 2007)


Rocky terrestrial planets, perhaps like Earth, Mars or Venus, appear to be forming or to have recently formed around a star in the Pleiades star cluster, the result of "monster collisions" of planets or planetary embryos. Astronomers using the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and the Spitzer Space Telescope report their findings in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal, the premier journal in astronomy.

Read more. Source: UCLA

Sun
Sun may be smaller than thought
(Nov 19, 2007)


The Sun may be smaller than we thought, a new study argues. If correct, then other properties of the Sun such as its internal temperature and density may be slightly different than previously calculated. Understanding the Sun's interior is important as it might help scientists make predictions about space weather and answer questions about the solar system.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

asteroid deflection mirrors
Deflected asteroids may keep coming back
(Nov 18, 2007)


What goes around comes around. Unfortunately, no such karma figures in plans to deflect asteroids on a collision course with Earth, a hearing of the US House Science and Technology Committee was told last week. One big whack will deflect an asteroid temporarily, but does not guarantee safety next time its orbit brings it close.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

comet Holmes
Is Comet Holmes bigger than the Sun?
(Nov 16, 2007)


The notion that Comet Holmes is bigger than the Sun has been making the rounds on space-related websites of late. But is it true? According to a statement on astronomer Dave Jewitt's website, it is. "Formerly, the Sun was the largest object in the Solar System," the statement reads. "Now, comet 17P/Holmes holds that distinction."

Read more. Source: New Scientist

SN 2006gy
Multi-star pile-up caused brightest supernova
(Nov 14, 2007)


A mystery over what caused the brightest supernova ever observed finally appears to have been solved. Two astronomers in the Netherlands say the explosion was the result of a cosmic pile-up: dozens of massive stars crashing into each other, producing a monstrous heavyweight star that eventually exploded, leaving a giant black hole in its wake.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

artist's rendition of PAHs in space
New evidence for extragalactic life-forming matter
(Nov 14, 2007)


Tantalising traces of the building blocks of life have been spotted in nearby galaxies. However, working out the identity of these carbon-containing molecules, and when they became abundant, is proving tricky, say astronomers.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Venus rover
Antique fridge could keep Venus rover cool
(Nov 12, 2007)


A high-tech refrigeration system could keep a rover functioning for weeks on the searingly hot surface of Venus, say NASA researchers. A long-lived Venus rover could help scientists understand why Venus, with its runaway greenhouse effect, has become so different from Earth.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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