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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: July 2008
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Mars
Space experts prepare for Martian land grab
(Jul 7, 2008)


Space experts will meet in France later this week to thrash out plans for an ambitious robotic spacecraft mission to return rocks from Mars to Earth – arguably the most ambitious interplanetary adventure ever attempted.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Rosetta
Rosetta awakes from hibernation for asteroid encounter
(Jul 6, 2008)


Spacecraft controllers have just awoken Rosetta from hibernation to prepare for its encounter with asteroid (2867) Steins on 5 September. ESA's comet chaser will study the relatively rare asteroid as it flies by on its way to comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Read more. Source: ESA

Tycho's Star
Fresh puzzle over dark energy supernovae
(Jul 5, 2008)


It's an embarrassing gap in astronomers' knowledge. Despite relying on type Ia supernovae as tools to measure the dark energy speeding up the universe's expansion, they still don't know exactly what causes the blasts. Now the picture has got even fuzzier.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Mercury
Smallest planet shrinks in size
(Jul 4, 2008)


The smallest planet in the Solar System has become even smaller, studies by the MESSENGER spacecraft have shown. Data from a flyby of Mercury in January 2008 show the planet has contracted by more than one mile (1.5km) in diameter over its history. Scientists believe the shrinkage is due to the planet's core slowly cooling.

Read more. Source: BBC

Zircon crystal believed to contain ancient organic matter
Diamonds hint at 'earliest life'
(Jul 3, 2008)


Tiny slivers of diamond forged on an infant Earth may contain the earliest traces of life, a study has shown. Analysis of the crystals showed they contain a form of carbon often associated with plants and bacteria. The rare gems were found inside zircon crystals, formed a few hundred million years after the Earth came into being.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist's rendering of Voyager 2 as it studies the outer limits of the heliosphere. Credit: NASA
Voyager squashes view of solar system
(Jul 3, 2008)


Scientists using data from Voyager 2 have observed the bubble of solar wind surrounding the solar system is not round, but has a squashed shape, according to recent data published as part of a series of papers in this week's (July 3) Nature. The beginning of the transition zone between the heliosphere and the rest of interstellar space is known as the termination shock. Scientists report that Voyager 2 crossed this boundary closer to the sun than expected, suggesting that the heliosphere in this region is pushed inward, closer to the sun, by an interstellar magnetic field.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Ribbon-like structure in SN 1006
Hubble sees stars and a stripe in celestial fireworks
(Jul 2, 2008)


A delicate ribbon of gas floats eerily in our galaxy. A contrail from an alien spaceship? A jet from a black-hole? Actually this image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, is a very thin section of a supernova remnant caused by a stellar explosion that occurred more than 1,000 years ago.

Read more. Source: Hubble newscenter

Snow White 5 trench
Phoenix scrapes 'almost perfect' icy soil for analysis
(Jul 2, 2008)


NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander enlarged the "Snow White" trench and scraped up little piles of icy soil on Saturday, June 28, the 33rd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Scientists say that the scrapings are ideal for the lander's analytical instruments.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

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