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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: December 2008
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NASA's year in review 2008 Dec 31, 2008
Grim details of Columbia disaster Dec 31, 2008
Ancient Earth was a barren waterworld Dec 30, 2008
Mars rovers near five years of science and discovery Dec 30, 2008
2008: The year in spaceflight Dec 28, 2008
NASA awards space station commercial resupply services contracts Dec 24, 2008
Will Obama pursue space-based solar power? Dec 23, 2008
US investigation into gravity weapons 'nonsense' Dec 22, 2008
Space is just a little bit closer Dec 22, 2008
Looking for extraterrestrial life in all the right places Dec 21, 2008
Scientists find 'missing' mineral and clues to Mars mysteries Dec 19, 2008
Kepler spacecraft ready to ship to Florida Dec 19, 2008
Planets living on the edge Dec 19, 2008
Flaw theory over Mars Beagle loss Dec 18, 2008
Galaxy clusters' stunted growth confirms dark energy Dec 17, 2008
Report urges timetable for human mission to Mars Dec 16, 2008
Titan's volcanoes give NASA spacecraft chilly reception Dec 16, 2008
Phoenix site on Mars may be in dry climate cycle phase Dec 16, 2008
Saturn's dynamic moon Enceladus shows more signs of activity Dec 16, 2008
Commercial space station finds first customers Dec 15, 2008
Pieces coming together for first test launch of NASA's new spacecraft Dec 15, 2008
Virgin Galactic 'mothership' to take first flight Dec 13, 2008
Cosmic diamonds may be hidden in 'carbon onions' Dec 12, 2008
Ocean worlds may be dying stars' last haven for life Dec 11, 2008
Astronomers find the two dimmest stellar bulbs Dec 11, 2008
Swirling waters boost chance of life on Europa Dec 11, 2008
Hubble Telescope finds carbon dioxide on an extrasolar planet Dec 10, 2008
Giant black hole confirmed in Milky Way Dec 10, 2008
Space elevator trips could be agonisingly slow Dec 9, 2008
Rivers of gas flow around stars in new space image Dec 9, 2008
Collider 'needs warning system' Dec 8, 2008
Hunting new Earths and the edge of the universe Dec 7, 2008
Search for alien engineering comes up dry – so far Dec 6, 2008
NASA orbiter finds Martian rock record with 10 beats to the bar Dec 6, 2008
Large Hadron Collider gears up for July restart Dec 5, 2008
Universe's dark matter mix is 'just right' for life Dec 5, 2008
Next NASA Mars mission rescheduled for 2011 Dec 4, 2008
Venus ultraviolet puzzle 'solved' Dec 4, 2008
Light 'echoes' solve mystery of famous supernova Dec 4, 2008
Has an alien comet infiltrated the solar system? Dec 3, 2008
World 'must tackle space threat' Dec 3, 2008
Meteorite hunters hit pay dirt in Canadian prairie Dec 3, 2008
Big bang's afterglow may reveal birthplace of comets Dec 2, 2008

NASA in 2008. Credit: NASA
NASA's year in review 2008
(Dec 31, 2008)

NASA landed on Mars, photographed distant worlds, added to the International Space Station, took part in a lunar science mission with India and made major progress toward returning astronauts to the moon as the agency celebrated its 50th birthday in 2008.

Read more. Source: NASA

Columbia heads for orbit in 1992. Credit: NASA
Grim details of Columbia disaster
(Dec 31, 2008)

NASA has released a detailed report into the deaths of the crew of space shuttle Columbia. It comes almost six years after the orbiter disintegrated when re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. The report includes grim details of the crew's final moments as the shuttle broke up over the state of Texas.

Read more. Source: BBC

watery planet
Ancient Earth was a barren waterworld
(Dec 30, 2008)

Dry land may be something of a novelty. Calculations by Nicolas Flament of the University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues suggest that Earth was a water-world until about 2.5 billion years ago, with land making up only 2 to 3 per cent of its surface.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

View from Opportunity. Image credit: NASA
Mars rovers near five years of science and discovery
(Dec 30, 2008)

NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity may still have big achievements ahead as they approach the fifth anniversaries of their memorable landings on Mars. Of the hundreds of engineers and scientists who cheered at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, on Jan. 3, 2004, when Spirit landed safely, and 21 days later when Opportunity followed suit, none predicted the team would still be operating both rovers in 2009.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Space walk outside the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA
2008: The year in spaceflight
(Dec 28, 2008)

2008 was a mixed year for spaceflight. China carried out its first spacewalk, India sent a probe to the Moon, and several private space vehicles took flight for the first time. But the news was dominated by concerns about NASA's long-term goals and a looming gap in US space access after the retirement of the space shuttle.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Artist concept of SpaceX DragonLab. Image credit: SpaceX
NASA awards space station commercial resupply services contracts
(Dec 24, 2008)

NASA has awarded two contracts – one to Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., and one to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif. – for commercial cargo resupply services to the International Space Station. At the time of award, NASA has ordered eight flights valued at about $1.9 billion from Orbital and 12 flights valued at about $1.6 billion from SpaceX.

Read more. Source: NASA

space-based power system
Will Obama pursue space-based solar power?
(Dec 23, 2008)

Could power beamed to Earth from space solve our energy problems? Advocates of space-based solar power may find a receptive ear in the Obama administration. The space-based solar power (SBSP) concept involves using geosynchronous satellites to collect solar energy and beam it down to Earth, most likely in the form of microwaves.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

gravitational waves
US investigation into gravity weapons 'nonsense'
(Dec 22, 2008)

If you think the idea of gravitational waves propelling interplanetary spacecraft sounds like science fiction, you're in good company – any astrophysicist will rubbish the idea out of hand. However, that didn't stop the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) from commissioning a report to investigate whether the elusive waves could pose a threat to US security.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Space is just a little bit closer
(Dec 22, 2008)

The upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere are much lower than expected, a US Air Force satellite has found. Currently, the ionosphere – a layer of charged particles that envelopes the planet – is at an altitude of about 420km, some 200km lower than expected. The behaviour of the ionosphere is important because disturbances in its structure can upset satellite communications and radar.

Read more. Source: BBC

Frozen planet
Looking for extraterrestrial life in all the right places
(Dec 21, 2008)

Scientists are expanding the search for extraterrestrial life – and they've set their sights on some very unearthly planets. Cold "Super-Earths" – giant, "snowball" planets that astronomers have spied on the outskirts of faraway solar systems – could potentially support some kind of life, they have found.

Read more. Source: Ohio State University

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