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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: July 2008
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Crater 308 on the Moon
China could reach Moon before US
(Jul 15, 2008)


China is capable of sending astronauts back to the Moon before the US does, the head of NASA has told the BBC. The space agency plans to return people to the lunar surface by 2020 using its next-generation spacecraft, Orion. But it is just possible the first people on the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 could be planting a flag with five stars, not 50.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Mars
Scientists plan to bring back rocks – and perhaps even life – from Mars
(Jul 14, 2008)


It would be the most audacious and technologically challenging space mission since the Apollo programme landed Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on the moon in 1969. An international team of scientists has put together detailed plans for a mission to bring back samples of rock, and possibly microscopic life, from the surface of Mars.

Read more. Source: Guardian

White dwarfs in NGC 6791
Mystery star cluster has 3 different birthdays
(Jul 14, 2008)


Imagine having three clocks in your house, each chiming at a different time. Astronomers have found the equivalent of three out-of-sync "clocks" in the ancient open star cluster NGC 6791. The dilemma may fundamentally challenge the way astronomers estimate cluster ages, researchers said.

Read more. Source: Space Science Institute

Comet explosion
Exploding asteroid theory strengthened by new clues
(Jul 14, 2008)


Geological evidence found in Ohio and Indiana in recent weeks is strengthening the case to attribute what happened 12,900 years ago in North America – when the end of the last Ice Age unexpectedly turned into a phase of extinction for animals and humans – to a cataclysmic comet or asteroid explosion over top of Canada.

Read more. Source: University of Cincinnati

Intense star-making region in a remote galaxy
Rare "star-making machine" found in distant universe
(Jul 13, 2008)


Astronomers have uncovered an extreme stellar machine – a galaxy in the very remote universe pumping out stars at a surprising rate of up to 4,000 per year. In comparison, our own Milky Way galaxy turns out an average of just 10 stars per year. The discovery, made possible by several telescopes including the Spitzer Space Telescope, goes against the most common theory of galaxy formation.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Super-Earths
Hot super-Earths could host life after all
(Jul 12, 2008)


Massive, rocky worlds called 'super-Earths' – even those orbiting searingly close to their stars – may provide the right conditions for life, new research suggests. At up to 15 times the mass of Earth, the rocky bodies are bigger and easier to spot than Earth-sized worlds, which have yet to be detected.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Jupiter's red spots
Jupiter's third red spot torn apart by siblings
(Jul 11, 2008)


Jupiter's third giant red storm has been chewed up by a collision with the planet's other two red spots and does not appear to have survived. Astronomers are still scrambling to capture pictures of the aftermath, but it appears Jupiter's third spot was torn up last week when it squeezed between its larger cousins, the Great Red Spot and Red Spot Junior.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Moon
Moon's interior 'did hold water'
(Jul 10, 2008)


US scientists have found evidence that water was held in the Moon's interior, challenging some elements of the theory of how Earth's satellite formed. The Moon is thought to have been created in a violent collision between Earth and another planet-sized object. Scientists thought the heat from this impact had vaporised all the water.

Read more. Source: BBC

The distant elliptical galaxy at the centre of the image inset is expected to harbour thousands of compact star clusters. Image: NASA/ESA/H Richer/UBC/J Kalirai/UCSC
Lucky Hubble find raises star cluster mystery
(Jul 9, 2008)


While observing stars in our own Milky Way galaxy with the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers stumbled upon a rare find: a distant galaxy teeming with clusters of stars too dim for most telescopes to see. Curiously, the light from some of these clusters is redder than expected, an observation astronomers are still struggling to explain.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Space Shuttle
NASA reveals final shuttle dates
(Jul 8, 2008)


NASA has fixed the dates of its last shuttle flights. The final orbiter to launch before the whole fleet goes into retirement will be Endeavour on 31 May, 2010. It will be carrying critical spare parts for the International Space Station (ISS) including communications equipment and shielding panels.

Read more. Source: BBC

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