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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: December 2008
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Carbonate, which is indicative of a wet and non-acidic history, occurs in very small patches of exposed rock appearing green in this color representation of an area about 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide on Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/Brown University
Scientists find 'missing' mineral and clues to Mars mysteries
(Dec 19, 2008)


Researchers using a powerful instrument aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found a long-sought-after mineral on the Martian surface and, with it, unexpected clues to the Red Planet's watery past. Surveying intact bedrock layers with the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, scientists found carbonate minerals, indicating that Mars had neutral to alkaline water when the minerals formed at these locations more than 3.6 billion years ago.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

The Kepler spacecraft at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ball
Kepler spacecraft ready to ship to Florida
(Dec 19, 2008)


Engineers are getting ready to pack the Kepler spacecraft into a container and ship it off to its launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The mission, scheduled to launch on March 5, will seek to answer an age-old question – are there other Earths in space? Kepler will monitor more than 100,000 stars for signatures of planets of various sizes and orbital distances.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

W5 star-formation region. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA
Planets living on the edge
(Dec 19, 2008)


Some stars have it tough when it comes to raising planets. A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows one unlucky lot of stars, born into a dangerous neighborhood. The stars themselves are safe, but the material surrounding them – the dusty bits of what might have been future planets – can be seen blowing off into space.

Read more. Source: NASA/Caltech/Spitzer

Artist's impression of Beagle 2 entering the atmosphere of Mars. Image credit: ESA
Flaw theory over Mars Beagle loss
(Dec 18, 2008)


Britain's ill-fated Mars probe, Beagle 2, may have met a fiery end through a miscalculation, New Scientist reports. The spacecraft, built to find signs of life, vanished on Christmas Day 2003. A simulation by Queensland University scientists suggests the probe went out of control during its descent due to a misjudgement of the Martian atmosphere.

Read more. Source: BBC

Abell 85. Image credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/A.Vikhlinin et al.
Galaxy clusters' stunted growth confirms dark energy
(Dec 17, 2008)


Dark energy is stunting the growth of the universe's galaxy clusters, new observations reveal. The finding uses a new technique to confirm that the universe is accelerating in its expansion, pushed apart by a mysterious repulsion – dark energy – that is overpowering the effect of gravity.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Future manned mission to Mars. Image credit: NASA
Report urges timetable for human mission to Mars
(Dec 16, 2008)


The Obama administration should set a concrete schedule for human Mars missions, and make sure new hardware developed for NASA's return to the Moon can be adapted for missions to other destinations, a new report says.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Titan. Image credit: NASA
Titan's volcanoes give NASA spacecraft chilly reception
(Dec 16, 2008)


Data collected during several recent flybys of Titan by the Cassini spacecraft have put another arrow in the quiver of scientists who think the Saturnian moon contains active cryovolcanoes spewing a super-chilled liquid into its atmosphere. The information was released Monday during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Snow White trench prepared by Phoenix. Image credit: NASA
Phoenix site on Mars may be in dry climate cycle phase
(Dec 16, 2008)


The Martian arctic soil that NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander dug into this year is very cold and very dry. However, when long-term climate cycles make the site warmer, the soil may get moist enough to modify the chemistry, producing effects that persist through the colder times.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Enceladus. Image credit: NASA
Saturn's dynamic moon Enceladus shows more signs of activity
(Dec 16, 2008)


The closer scientists look at Saturn's small moon Enceladus, the more they find evidence of an active world. The most recent flybys of Enceladus made by the Cassini spacecraft have provided new signs of ongoing changes on and around the moon. The latest high-resolution images of Enceladus show signs that the south polar surface changes over time.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Artist concept of SpaceX DragonLab. Image credit: SpaceX
Commercial space station finds first customers
(Dec 15, 2008)


Commercial space flight is taking off. SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, which in September launched the first privately built rocket to go into orbit, has secured two customers for its DragonLab mini space station.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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