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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: July 2008
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M101. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI
Spitzer reveals 'no organics' zone around Pinwheel Galaxy
(Jul 22, 2008)


M101, also called the Pinwheel galaxy, is dominated by a mishmash of spiral arms. In Spitzer's new view, in which infrared light is color coded, the galaxy sports a swirling blue center and a unique, coral-red outer ring. A new paper appearing July 20 in the Astrophysical Journal explains why this outer ring stands out. According to the authors, the red color highlights a zone where organic molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are present throughout most of the galaxy, suddenly disappear.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

V598 Puppis. Image credit: ESA
The star that everyone missed
(Jul 21, 2008)


XMM-Newton has discovered an exploding star in the Milky Way. Usually that would be important in itself, but this time there is a special twist. Calculations show that the explosion must have been clearly visible to the unaided eye but was missed by the legions of star watchers around the planet.

Read more. Source: ESA

Large Hadron Collider. Image credit: CERN
CERN lab goes 'colder than space'
(Jul 19, 2008)


A vast physics experiment built in a tunnel below the French-Swiss border is fast becoming one of the coolest places in the Universe. The Large Hadron Collider is entering the final stages of being lowered to a temperature of 1.9 kelvin (-271C; -456F) – colder than deep space. The LHC has thousands of magnets which will be maintained in this frigid condition using liquid helium.

Read more. Source: BBC

Earth seen from Deep Impact. Image credit: Credit: Donald J. Lindler, Sigma Space Corporation/GSFC; EPOCh/DIXI Science Teams
Deep Impact films Earth as an alien world
(Jul 18, 2008)


NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft has created a video of the moon transiting (passing in front of) Earth as seen from the spacecraft's point of view 31 million miles away. Scientists are using the video to develop techniques to study alien worlds. "Making a video of Earth from so far away helps the search for other life-bearing planets in the Universe by giving insights into how a distant, Earth-like alien world would appear to us," said University of Maryland astronomer Michael A’Hearn, principal investigator for the Deep Impact extended mission, called EPOXI.

Read more. Source: NASA

Phobos seen by Mars Express
Mars Express to rendezvous with Martian moon
(Jul 18, 2008)


Scientists and engineers are preparing ESA's Mars Express for several close fly-bys of the Martian moon Phobos. Passing within 100 km of the surface, Mars Express will conduct some of the most detailed investigations of the moon to date.

Read more. Source: ESA

Color-enhanced image of the delta in Jezero Crater, which once held a lake. Researchers report that ancient rivers ferried clay-like minerals (shown in green) into the lake, forming the delta. Image credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/Brown University
NASA spacecraft shows diverse, wet environments on ancient Mars
(Jul 17, 2008)


Two studies based on data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed that the Red Planet once hosted vast lakes, flowing rivers and a variety of other wet environments that had the potential to support life. One study, published in the July 17 issue of Nature, shows that vast regions of the ancient highlands of Mars, which cover about half the planet, contain clay minerals, which can form only in the presence of water.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Contessa quarry, Italy. Image credit: Steve Turgeon
Undersea volcanoes triggered marine extinction, says study
(Jul 17, 2008)


Undersea volcanic activity triggered a mass extinction of marine life and buried a thick mat of organic matter on the sea floor about 93 million years ago, which became a major source of oil, according to a new study. University of Alberta scientists Turgeon and Robert Creaser say the lava fountains that erupted altered the chemistry of the sea and possibly of the atmosphere.

Read more. Source: University of Alberta

spiral galaxy
Early galaxies had magnetic fields as strong as today's
(Jul 17, 2008)


How did galaxies get their mysteriously massive magnetic fields? The favoured theory says that galaxies "spin" their own fields over many billions of years. Now a study of light from distant quasars is casting serious doubt on this mechanism.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Silver-colored rasp protruding from Phoenix Mars Lander's Robotic Arm scoop. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University
Phoenix Mars Lander to begin rasping frozen layer
(Jul 16, 2008)


A powered rasp on the back of the robotic arm scoop of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander is being tested for the first time on Mars in gathering sample shavings of ice. The lander has used its arm in recent days to clear away loose soil from a subsurface layer of hard-frozen material and create a large enough area to use the motorized rasp in a trench informally named "Snow White."

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Peony Nebula star
Brightest star in the Galaxy has new competition
(Jul 15, 2008)


A contender for the title of brightest star in our Milky Way Galaxy has been unearthed in the dusty metropolis of the galaxy's center. Nicknamed the "Peony Nebula star," the bright stellar bulb was revealed by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and other ground-based telescopes. It blazes with the light of an estimated 3.2 million suns.

Read more. Source: Spitzer Space Telecope

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