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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: March 2008
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Highest resolution view yet obtained of Enceladus' north polar region. The view looks southward over cratered plains from high above the north pole. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Cassini flies through watery plumes of Saturn moon
(Mar 14, 2008)


NASA's Cassini spacecraft performed a daring flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus on Wed., March 12, flying about 15 kilometers per second (32,000 mph) through icy water geyser-like jets. The spacecraft snatched up precious samples that might point to a water ocean or organics inside the little moon.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Synechococcus cyanobacteria. Image credit: NSF
Hardy Earth bacteria can grow in lunar soil
(Mar 14, 2008)


A hardy life form called cyanobacteria can grow in otherwise inhospitable lunar soil, new experiments suggest. Future colonists on the Moon might be able to use the cyanobacteria to extract resources from the soil that could be used to make rocket fuel and fertiliser for crops.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

dust disk around young star
Spitzer finds organics and water where new planets may grow
(Mar 14, 2008)


Researchers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered large amounts of simple organic gases and water vapor in a possible planet-forming region around an infant star, along with evidence that these molecules were created there. They've also found water in the same zone around two other young stars.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

meteorite GRA 06129
Meteorites may be remnants of destroyed dwarf planet
(Mar 13, 2008)


Two rocks found together in Antarctica are chunks of a dwarf planet that was smashed apart early in the solar system's history, detailed studies suggest. Other remnants of the proto-world may still be floating around in the asteroid belt, and might be identifiable by the spectrum of the sunlight they reflect.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

lobate debris apron on Mars
Huge ice deposits 'seen' on Mars
(Mar 13, 2008)


Large volumes of water ice have probably been detected below Mars' surface, far from the planet's polar ice caps, scientists have said. The Sharad radar experiment, on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft made the discovery in Mars' mid-northern latitudes. The ice is found in distinctive geological structures on Mars' surface that are hundreds of metres thick.

Read more. Source: BBC

Peruvian meteorite crater
Swarm of meteorites may solve Peru impact mystery
(Mar 13, 2008)


Last year's meteorite impact in Peru has puzzled scientists. Fragments found at the site reveal the impactor was a stony meteorite, but stony meteorites usually shatter when they hit the Earth's atmosphere, raining many small pieces over a wide area. So how could the meteorite make it all the way to the ground and gouge out a 15-metre-wide crater, such as the one found in the Peruvian town of Carancas?

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Moon's surface imaged by Selene
Japan marvels at its Moon movies
(Mar 12, 2008)


Stunning high-definition movies of the Moon's surface have been sent back by a Japanese space probe. Selene, or Kaguya, arrived at the Moon late last year and carries a large HDTV camera to shoot footage as it flies 100km above the lunar surface. The video gives an idea of the vistas seen decades ago by the Apollo astronauts as they approached the Moon.

Read more. Source: BBC

plumes emanating from Enceladus
Cassini to make audacious flyby
(Mar 12, 2008)


Such is the interest in Enceladus that NASA has directed its Cassini spacecraft to pass just 50km from the Saturnian moon on Wednesday. The flyby will take the probe through the plumes of icy particles emanating from the enigmatic cracks at the south pole dubbed the "tiger stripes". The cause of this activity has developed into the big scientific question of the flagship mission.

Read more. Source: BBC

Launch of Endeavour
Endeavour launched from Florida
(Mar 11, 2008)


A US space shuttle has lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, carrying astronauts and equipment bound for the International Space Station (ISS). Endeavour is taking the first section of a Japanese space lab to the ISS as construction work continues. The seven-strong crew will install a two-armed robot designed to carry out repairs outside the orbiting spaceship.

Read more. Source: BBC

ATV
Huge space truck races into orbit
(Mar 9, 2008)


Europe's new orbital cargo ship has launched from French Guiana on a mission to resupply the space station. The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is the biggest and most complex spacecraft Europe has ever tried to put in orbit. The 20-tonne unmanned freighter left the Kourou spaceport at 0403 GMT, riding atop an Ariane 5 rocket.

Read more. Source: BBC

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