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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: September 2007
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Thin, concentric lava flow fronts cover a plain near the head of a tributary of Athabasca Valles, which is thought to have been carved by water. Image: NASA/HiRISE/WL Jaeger et al/Science
Lava may have buried signs of Mars water
(Sep 21, 2007)


Dramatic features of the Martian landscape that appear to have experienced catastrophic flooding may have been covered over by lava flows, new research suggests. This could make it much harder for future landing missions to analyse the evidence for past water on the Red Planet. The finding is one of several new reports resulting from more than three months of high-resolution surveys by the new Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which went into orbit around the planet in March 2006.

Read more. Source: BBC

Neptune
A warm south pole? Yes, on Neptune!
(Sep 20, 2007)


An international team of astronomers has discovered that Neptune's south pole is much hotter than the rest of the planet. They have published the first temperature maps of the lowest portion of Neptune's atmosphere, which show that this warm south pole is providing an avenue for methane to escape out of the deep atmosphere.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Big Bang
Did the big bang spawn trillions of black holes?
(Sep 19, 2007)


Were vast numbers of black holes spawned during our universe's earliest moments? It is an intriguing idea, made possible by the extreme densities associated with the big bang. So far, there is no hard evidence that such primordial black holes (PBHs) ever existed, but new observations just around the corner could change that.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

crater at site of Peruvian 'meteor' crash
Scores ill in Peru 'meteor crash'
(Sep 18, 2007)


Some 600 people in Peru have required treatment after an object from space – said to be a meteorite – plummeted to Earth in a remote area, officials say. They say the object left a deep crater after crashing down over the weekend near the town of Carancas in the Andes. People who have visited scene have been complaining of headaches, vomiting and nausea after inhaling gases.

Read more. Source: BBC

Large Magellanic Cloud
Milky Way keeps a light grip on speedy neighbours
(Sep 17, 2007)


The Milky Way's two best-known companion galaxies are recent immigrants rather than the long-time neighbours they were thought to be, a new study suggests. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are a pair of nearby dwarf galaxies once thought to have been in orbit around our galaxy for billions of years.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

mountainous terrain that reaches about 6 miles high along the equatorial ridge of Iapetus
Must-see pictures of Saturn's moon Iapetus from Cassini
(Sep 16, 2007)


Scientists on the Cassini mission to Saturn are poring through hundreds of images returned from the Sept. 10 flyby of Saturn's two-toned moon Iapetus. Pictures returned late Tuesday and early Wednesday show the moon's yin and yang – a white hemisphere resembling snow, and the other as black as tar. Many of the close-up observations focused on studying the strange 20-kilometer high (12 mile) mountain ridge that gives the moon a walnut-shaped appearance.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now / NASA-JPL

dark matter associated with a galaxy
Dark matter and inflation – one and the same?
(Sep 15, 2007)


The mysterious dark matter that fills the universe could be made of the same particles that put the "big" in the big bang. Cosmologists believe that the early universe went through a period of expansion, known as inflation, soon after the big bang – although they do not know exactly what caused it. Now cosmologist Andrew Liddle at the University of Sussex and his colleagues say one particle may be responsible for both inflation and the dark matter that has been perplexing astronomers.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Long filaments of dark matter and gas form in simulations of both warm and cold dark matter. Credit: Science
Warm dark matter solves mystery of giant black holes
(Sep 14, 2007)


Dark matter may be made of fast, lightweight particles – contrary to the most widely accepted theory, according to a new computer simulation. That could explain the peculiarly pure chemical makeup of some stars in the Milky Way, and the enormous mass of black holes that live at the hearts of large galaxies.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

SELENE
Japan launches first lunar probe
(Sep 14, 2007)


Japan's space agency has successfully launched its first lunar probe, SELENE, on a mission to explore the Moon. A rocket carrying the orbiter blasted off from the space centre on the remote southern island of Tanegashima. Over the course of a year, the orbiter will gather data on the Moon's origin and evolution.

Read more. Source: BBC

Moon
Google backs private Moon landing
(Sep 14, 2007)


Search giant Google is offering a $30m prize pot to private firms that land a robot rover on the Moon. The competition to send a robot craft to the Moon is being run with the X-Prize Foundation. To claim the cash, any craft reaching the lunar surface must perform a series of tasks such as shoot video and roam for specific distances.

Read more. Source: BBC

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