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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: October 2007
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Saturn's rings
Saturn's rings hide 'sunflowers' and extra bulk
(Oct 17, 2007)


Round and round it goes, and if it will ever give up its secrets, nobody knows. Saturn's magnificent ring system continues to puzzle astronomers, with new observations by NASA's Cassini spacecraft revealing dust rings that always point at the Sun and extra mass hiding in one of the brightest rings, which may be much older than previously thought.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

I Zwicky 18
Youthful-looking galaxy conceals ancient stars
(Oct 17, 2007)


A bizarre galaxy thought to have started forming stars billions of years after its peers is not such a late bloomer after all, new Hubble observations reveal. Nonetheless, its primordial composition – resembling the first galaxies in the universe – remains a mystery.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Large Hadron Collider
You too can do particle physics
(Oct 16, 2007)


Public involvement in the Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator being built in Switzerland, has received a boost with the relaunch of the LHC@home project, which allows users to donate computer time for LHC computing projects. Researchers hope the project will help them fine-tune the LHC to shed light on what dark matter is and why particles have mass.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

artist impression of a super-Earth
Super-Earths will have plate tectonics
(Oct 15, 2007)


"Super-Earths" – rocky planets up to 10 times the mass of Earth that orbit other stars – probably have similar structures to our world, with a solid inner core surrounded by a liquid mantle and then a crust. They may even have plate tectonics, which some argue is necessary for life to evolve.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

radiation-resistant spacecraft
Forget rockets – go to Mars in a cosmic fruit bowl
(Oct 14, 2007)


The shape of a spacecraft may be crucial to keeping its crew safe on long flights. The ideal form, according to Ram Tripathi, a spaceflight engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, is a grapefruit spiked with cherries on sticks. This bizarre design might be the only way to protect the crew from cancers triggered by the searing radiation environments they would experience on longer space trips, Tripathi says in a new study.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

The Ouna spacecraft, also called VRAD (right), shortly after its release. This image was taken from a camera on the mothership. Image: JAXA
Lunar orbiter births two 'baby' probes
(Oct 13, 2007)


Japan's Kaguya spacecraft has released its second mini-probe into orbit around the Moon. The two 'baby' probes will work in concert with their mothership to reveal the Moon's internal structure by making sensitive measurements of its gravity field.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

gamma ray burster artwork
Enigmatic supernova smashes brightness record
(Oct 12, 2007)


An odd celestial explosion recorded two years ago has been confirmed as the brightest supernova ever identified. It is so bright that scientists are still scrambling to explain it. The explosion, called SN 2005ap, was discovered on 3 March 2005 by Robert Quimby as part of the Texas Supernova Survey, a project he led at the University of Texas in Austin, before moving to Caltech in 2007.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

jets spraying from the south pole of Enceladus
Moon jets pinned on 'tiger stripes'
(Oct 12, 2007)


Scientists have determined the location of the most powerful jets spraying from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. These ejected streams of ice particles come from the hottest spots of geological fractures known as the "tiger stripes". The results, reported in the journal Nature, delight scientists who study Enceladus, even if they do not come entirely as a surprise.

Read more. Source: BBC

Allen Telescope Array
New radio telescope begins search for alien signals
(Oct 10, 2007)


The first radio telescope dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has formally started operations. The first phase of the Allen Telescope Array, which is being built near Hat Creek, California, has begun functioning with 42 radio antennas. When complete, the ATA will have 350 dishes, each about 6 metres wide.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

dark markings on Iapetus
Sun to blame for mysterious blemishes on Saturn moon
(Oct 9, 2007)


Blame the Sun for the mysterious dark blemishes on Saturn's moon Iapetus. New photos from the Cassini spacecraft reveal the splotches are mainly found on the sunward-facing slopes of craters and mountains, suggesting a runaway heating process is tainting portions of the moon.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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