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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: January 2008
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Virgin unveils spaceship designs
(Jan 23, 2008)

Virgin Galactic has released the final design of the launch system that will take fare-paying passengers into space. It is based on the X-Prize-winning SpaceShipOne concept – a rocket ship that is lifted initially by a carrier plane before blasting skywards. The Virgin system is essentially a refinement, but has been increased in size to take eight people at a time on a sub-orbital trip, starting in 2010.

Read more. Source: BBC

galactic core
Milky Way's antimatter linked to exotic black holes
(Jan 22, 2008)

Legions of tiny black holes created during the big bang may lurk at the centre of the galaxy, creating a prodigious antimatter factory, a new study suggests. The work could explain where the Milky Way's antimatter comes from – one of the biggest mysteries in astrophysics.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Tremors keep crust-dwelling microbes alive
(Jan 22, 2008)

Earthquakes don't always mean death and destruction – at least for the microbes deep in the crust. Regular rumblings could be what enables them to stay alive, and maybe even Martian bugs too.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

astronauts on Mars
NASA investigates virtual space
(Jan 21, 2008)

The US space agency is exploring the possibility of developing a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. The virtual world would be aimed at students and would "simulate real NASA engineering and science missions". The agency has published a "request for information" (RFI) from organisations interested in developing the platform.

Read more. Source: BBC

European probe aims for Mercury
(Jan 20, 2008)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed an industrial contract to build a probe to send to the planet Mercury. BepiColombo will launch in 2013 on a seven-billion-km flight to the innermost world, arriving in 2019. The 350m-euro (260m) deal with EADS Astrium will lead to the production of major spacecraft components in Germany, Italy, France and the UK.

Read more. Source: BBC

black hole
'Monsters' blamed for extreme chaos in black holes
(Jan 18, 2008)

A single black hole can contain more disorder than all the stars in the universe put together. A new study may explain why, by connecting them to chaotic distortions in the fabric of space-time known as "monsters".

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Teleportation: fact or fiction?
(Jan 18, 2008)

Making someone vanish in New York and appear an instant later in Tokyo is way beyond current technology but just might be possible in the far future, physicists told an audience at MIT attending a preview and panel discussion about the movie Jumper on Wednesday (see teleportation). Actor Hayden Christensen and director Doug Liman were at MIT to show scenes from the upcoming movie and to discuss it with physicists Max Tegmark and Edward Farhi.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

clouds on Mars
Ice clouds put Mars in the shade
(Jan 17, 2008)

Until now, Mars has generally been regarded as a desert world, where a visiting astronaut would be surprised to see clouds scudding across the orange sky. However, new results show that the arid planet possesses high-level clouds that are sufficiently dense to cast a shadow on the surface.

Read more. Source: ESA

Upgraded neutrino detector could root out dark matter
(Jan 17, 2008)

The world's biggest neutrino detector, IceCube, may be augmented to search for signs of dark matter at the Sun's core or at the centre of our galaxy.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Mercury's previously unseen hemisphere
MESSENGER's first look at Mercury's previously unseen side
(Jan 16, 2008)

On January 14, 2008, the MESSENGER spacecraft observed about half of the hemisphere missed by Mariner 10. This image was snapped by the Wide Angle Camera, part of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) instrument, about 80 minutes after MESSENGER's closest approach to Mercury (2:04 pm EST), when the spacecraft was at a distance of about 27,000 km (about 17,000 miles). The image shows features as small as 10 km (6 miles) in size.

Read more. Source: Johns Hopkins Univ.

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