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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: December 2009
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Russia 'plans to stop asteroid' Dec 31, 2009
NASA's WISE space telescope jettisons its cover Dec 30, 2009
Will a neutralino steal Higgs's thunder? Dec 28, 2009
Cassini spacecraft to monitor north pole on Titan Dec 25, 2009
Keck Telescopes gaze into young star's 'life zone' Dec 24, 2009
Microbes survive 30,000 years inside a salt crystal Dec 23, 2009
Life in the inner galaxy would be bombarded by comets Dec 22, 2009
Enceladus plume is half ice Dec 21, 2009
Glint of sunlight confirms liquid in northern lake district of Titan Dec 21, 2009
Avatar moons may become a science fact Dec 20, 2009
'Boat' could explore Saturn moon Dec 20, 2009
'Fried Egg' may be impact crater Dec 19, 2009
Has dark matter finally been detected? Dec 18, 2009
'Coldest place' found on the Moon Dec 17, 2009
Best ever atlas of 'iron planet' Dec 17, 2009
Baby black holes implicated in universe's mightiest rays Dec 16, 2009
'Super-Earths' orbit nearby stars Dec 16, 2009
Higgs in space: Orbiting telescope could beat the LHC Dec 14, 2009
NASA sky survey probe blasts off Dec 14, 2009
UK's VISTA telescope takes stunning images of space Dec 12, 2009
Reddish dust and ice migration darken Iapetus Dec 11, 2009
More details of Saturn's strange polar hexagon Dec 10, 2009
Methane findings boost for life on Mars hopes Dec 9, 2009
Dinosaur-killing impact set Earth to broil, not burn Dec 8, 2009
Roll-out for Richard Branson's spaceliner Dec 7, 2009
Watery niche may foster life on Mars Dec 7, 2009
Physicists race to publish first results from LHC Dec 6, 2009
Large moon of Uranus may explain odd tilt Dec 5, 2009
Cool find in hunt for exoplanets Dec 4, 2009
Death of rare giant star sheds light on cosmic past Dec 3, 2009
Both of NASA's Mars orbiters are down for the count Dec 2, 2009
Scientists explain puzzling lake asymmetry on Titan Dec 1, 2009


Apophis
Russia 'plans to stop asteroid'
(Dec 31, 2009)


The head of Russia's federal space agency has said it will work to divert an asteroid (Apophis) which will make several passes near the Earth from 2029. Anatoly Perminov told the Voice of Russia radio service that the agency's science council would hold a closed meeting to discuss the issue. Any eventual plan is likely to be an international collaboration, he said.

Read more. Source: BBC

WISE
NASA's WISE space telescope jettisons its cover
(Dec 30, 2009)


Engineers and scientists say the maneuver went off without a hitch, and everything is working properly. The "first-light" images of the sky from WISE will be released to the public in about a month, after the telescope has been fully calibrated. "The cover floated away as we planned," said William Irace, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena. "Our detectors are soaking up starlight for the first time."

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

ATLAS collision
Will a neutralino steal Higgs's thunder?
(Dec 28, 2009)


The world's biggest experiment is primed to answer one of the universe's biggest questions: what is the origin of mass? But an unexpected particle – the neutralino – could yet steal the show. No one has ever seen one, but it is predicted by the theory of supersymmetry, which fixes many problems that plague the standard model.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Titan polar flyby
Cassini spacecraft to monitor north pole on Titan
(Dec 25, 2009)


Though there are no plans to investigate whether Saturn's moon Titan has a Santa Claus, NASA's Cassini will zoom close to Titan's north pole this weekend. The flyby, which brings Cassini to within about 960 km (600 miles) of the Titan surface at 82 degrees north latitude, will take place the evening of Dec. 27 Pacific time, or shortly after midnight Universal Time on Dec. 28.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Artist's impression of a young planetary system
Keck Telescopes gaze into young star's 'life zone'
(Dec 24, 2009)


The inner regions of young planet-forming disks offer information about how worlds like Earth form, but not a single telescope in the world can see them. Now, for the first time, astronomers using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii have measured the properties of a young solar system at distances closer to the star than Venus is from our sun.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Death Valley
Microbes survive 30,000 years inside a salt crystal
(Dec 23, 2009)


Thrifty microbes entombed in a salt crystal have survived for 30,000 years by feeding off the remains of algae that were trapped along with them. This is the most convincing example to date of long-term survival. Brian Schubert, a microbiologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and colleagues studied salt crystals in a sediment core taken from Death Valley in California.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Milky Way core
Life in the inner galaxy would be bombarded by comets
(Dec 22, 2009)


We're lucky Earth resides in the Milky Way's suburbs. Intense comet bombardment near the galaxy's center may make it tough for life to gain a foothold there. More than twice as many comets are shaken loose to potentially hit planets at half our distance to the center, according to simulations by Marco Masi of the University of Padua, Italy, and his colleagues.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

False-color closeup of one of the plumes on Enceladus
Enceladus plume is half ice
(Dec 21, 2009)


As much as 50% of the plume shooting out of geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus could be ice, a researcher revealed yesterday at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. Previously, scientists had thought that only 1020% of the plume was made up of ice, with the rest being water vapor.

Read more. Source: Nature

Reflection from methane lake on Titan
Glint of sunlight confirms liquid in northern lake district of Titan
(Dec 21, 2009)


NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured the first flash of sunlight reflected off a lake on Saturn's moon Titan, confirming the presence of liquid on the part of the moon dotted with many large, lake-shaped basins. Cassini scientists had been looking for the glint, also known as a specular reflection, since the spacecraft began orbiting Saturn in 2004. But Titan's northern hemisphere, which has more lakes than the southern hemisphere, has been veiled in winter darkness.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

The moon Pandora in the film Avatar
Avatar moons may become a science fact
(Dec 20, 2009)


Habitable alien moons like the one depicted in the blockbuster movie Avatar may become science fact within the next few years, according to a leading astronomer. In the 3D film, a race of 10ft blue-skinned giants inhabits an Earth-like moon called Pandora, which orbits a gas giant planet similar to Jupiter. US astronomer and planet-hunter Lisa Kaltenegger, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, believes there is every chance a real-life version of Pandora exists and will soon be found.

Read more. Source: The Independent

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