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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: August 2009
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Allen Telescope Array. Image: SETI Institute
SETI telescope array produces first science results
(Aug 19, 2009)


The only telescope array in the world that is focused on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, the Allen Telescope Array, has produced its first scientific results – but unfortunately there's still no word from ET. Astronomers hope to continue adding telescopes to the system to search for alien transmissions, but in the meantime, they are also surveying intergalactic space for 'missing' star-forming gas and other astronomical phenomena.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Artist's impression of Stardust encountering Comet Wild/2. Image: NASA/JPL
First amino acid on a comet found
(Aug 18, 2009)


An amino acid – glycine – has been found on a comet for the first time, a new analysis of samples from NASA's Stardust mission reveals. The discovery confirms that some of the building blocks of life were delivered to the early Earth from space.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Cosmic explosions called gamma-ray bursts may be the result of black holes burrowing into stars and devouring them from the inside. Artwork: Dana Berry/SkyWorks Digital
Black hole parasites explain cosmic flashes
(Aug 18, 2009)


Some of the brightest flashes in the universe, known as gamma-ray bursts, may be the result of black holes burrowing into stars and devouring them from inside. The longer flashes, lasting at least a few seconds, have long been thought to signal the deaths of massive stars that have run out of fuel, causing them to collapse to form black holes. Now an alternative explanation has been given new lease of life: a black hole may instead be an external attacker that dives into the belly of a massive star and consumes it.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Area I-X
NASA assembles Ares test rocket
(Aug 17, 2009)


The US space agency has completed the assembly of its Ares I-X rocket ahead of a test flight scheduled for October. The Ares I rocket is a key component of NASA's next-generation space transportation system. The agency will use Ares I to launch the Orion capsule – the spacecraft to be used for human space missions after the space shuttle retires.

Read more. Source: BBC

Block Island meteorite on Mars
Meteorite found on Mars yields clues about planet's past
(Aug 17, 2009)


NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity is investigating a metallic meteorite the size of a large watermelon that is providing researchers more details about the Red Planet's environmental history. The rock, dubbed "Block Island," is larger than any other known meteorite on Mars. Scientists calculate it is too massive to have hit the ground without disintegrating unless Mars had a much thicker atmosphere than it has now when the rock fell.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

At equinox, the rings turn edge-on to the Sun, reflecting almost no sunlight
US probe captures Saturn equinox
(Aug 15, 2009)


Raw images of the moment Saturn reached its equinox have been beamed to Earth by the Cassini spacecraft. Scientists are studying the unprocessed pictures to uncover new discoveries in the gas giant's ring system. Equinox is the moment when the Sun crosses a planet's equator, making day and night the same length.

Read more. Source: BBC

Ares I
Houston, we have a cashflow problem
(Aug 14, 2009)


NASA's plans to land astronauts back on the moon by 2020 are about to disappear into a giant black hole, according to a panel of space experts appointed by Barack Obama. Less than a month after the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11's first lunar landing, the group will tell White House advisers today that the space agency simply does not have enough money to do it again. Without a significant increase in funding NASA will almost certainly have to scrap the next-generation Ares I.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

Artist impression of HATP-7b and its central star. Image: Leiden Observatory
Second backwards planet found, a day after the first
(Aug 14, 2009)


Just a day after the announcement of the first extrasolar planet found orbiting its star backwards, two other teams announced the discovery of a second one. A team led by Joshua Winn of MIT and another, led by Norio Narita at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, used the Japanese Subaru telescope to observe planet HAT-P-7b, a previously known planet about 1000 light years from Earth that was recently observed by NASA's new planet-hunting satellite Kepler.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Large Magellanic Cloud. Image credit: M. Livio STSCI/ESA/NASA
Milky Way may have a huge hidden neighbor
(Aug 14, 2009)


A large satellite galaxy may be lurking, hidden from view, next door to our own. Sukanya Chakrabarti and Leo Blitz of the University of California, Berkeley, suspected that the gravity of a nearby galaxy was causing perturbations that have been observed in gas on the fringes of the Milky Way. In the best-fitting simulation, the unseen galaxy has has roughly the same mass as the Milky Way's brightest satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Cepheus B. Image credit: Spitzer Space Telescope
Space telescopes find trigger-happy star formation
(Aug 14, 2009)


A new study from two of NASA's Great Observatories provides fresh insight into how some stars are born, along with a beautiful new image of a stellar nursery, called Cepheus B, in our Milky Way galaxy. The research shows that radiation from massive stars may trigger the formation of many more stars than previously thought.

Read more. Source: Spitzer Space Telescope

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