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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2009
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SpaceShipTwo's rocket motor test-fired for first time May 30, 2009
Freeze-thaw cycle may explain Saturn moon's odd activity May 30, 2009
Crew doubles aboard space station May 30, 2009
Rare radio supernova is nearest supernova in five years May 30, 2009
Planet-hunting method succeeds at last May 29, 2009
Yin-yang planet has phases like the moon May 28, 2009
Giant galaxy Messier 87 finally sized up May 28, 2009
EPOXI Team develops new method to find alien oceans May 27, 2009
Space rock yields carbon bounty May 26, 2009
Asteroid bombardment may have boosted early Earth life May 26, 2009
Mars robots may have destroyed evidence of life May 25, 2009
Space shuttle lands in California May 24, 2009
Former astronaut nominated as next NASA chief May 24, 2009
Man-made star to unlock cosmic secrets May 23, 2009
New light shed on pulsar puzzle May 22, 2009
Chilly brine could have harbored life on Mars May 21, 2009
Space shuttle releases upgraded Hubble May 20, 2009
Stealth storm erupts from the Sun May 20, 2009
Fifth spacewalk energises Hubble May 19, 2009
Flat universe may be the new flat Earth May 19, 2009
Brute force helps Hubble renewal May 18, 2009
Hubble's new spectrograph fitted May 17, 2009
Telescopes poised to spot air-breathing aliens May 17, 2009
Hubble spacewalk hits gyro glitch May 16, 2009
Spacewalkers outfit Hubble with a new eye May 15, 2009
How to catch a black hole before it eats the world May 15, 2009
Lift-off for European telescopes May 14, 2009
Molecule of life emerges from laboratory slime May 14, 2009
Let the planet hunt begin May 14, 2009
Shuttle reaches Hubble telescope May 13, 2009
Soft ground puts Spirit in danger despite gain in daily energy May 13, 2009
Obama reviews post-shuttle plans May 12, 2009
Shuttle blasts off to fix Hubble May 11, 2009
Star Trek beams to top of chart May 11, 2009
Peering into Hubble's future May 9, 2009
Solar cycle will be weakest since 1928, forecasters say May 9, 2009
Nuclear fuel for spacecraft set to run out in 2018 May 8, 2009
Orange stars are just right for life May 7, 2009
NASA's Spitzer Telescope warms up to new career May 7, 2009
Could flowers bloom on icy moon Europa? May 6, 2009
How satellites could 'sail' home May 5, 2009
Rogue black holes may roam the Milky Way May 4, 2009
Dark matter 'highway' funnels gas into galactic pileup May 4, 2009
Nearby asteroid found orbiting sun backwards May 3, 2009
Mysterious spokes found in crater on Mercury May 1, 2009
Missing link in the evolution of galaxy disks May 1, 2009


SpaceShipTwo engine test. Image credit: Mark Greenberg
SpaceShipTwo's rocket motor test-fired for first time
(May 30, 2009)


The hybrid rocket motor that is intended to power tourist trips to the edge of space aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has undergone its first successful test-firings. The rocket motor's design incorporates lessons learned after a fatal rocket propellant explosion in 2007.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Plumes emerging from Enceladus. Image credit: NASA/JPL
Freeze-thaw cycle may explain Saturn moon's odd activity
(May 30, 2009)


If there is life on Saturn's bizarre, water-spewing moon Enceladus, it's about to spend a lot of time in the freezer. So concludes Norman Sleep of Stanford University, who says a perpetual cycle of melting and refreezing may offer the best explanation for why Enceladus seems so active today. In Sleep's scenario, Enceladus is now heading back into a long cold phase after a comparatively brief warm spell.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

International Space Station. Image credit: NASA
Crew doubles aboard space station
(May 30, 2009)


The International Space Station's crew has doubled after a Russian capsule carrying three astronauts docked at the orbiting outpost. The Soyuz TMA-15 capsule carrying the astronauts docked with the ISS at 1334 BST (0834 EDT). The new crew members will spend a total of six months aboard the station, raising its crew complement to six for the first time.

Read more. Source: BBC

Hubble image (left) of M82. A May 2008 VLA image of the starburst region (top left) shows the supernova (SN 2008iz), which probably exploded in January 2008. The two high-resolution VLBA images (lower right) show an expanding shell at the scale of a few light days. HST image: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team [STScI/AURA]; Radio images: A. Brunthaler, MPIfR
Rare radio supernova is nearest supernova in five years
(May 30, 2009)


The chance discovery last month of a rare radio supernova underscores the promise of new, more sensitive radio surveys to find supernovas hidden by gas and dust. "This supernova is the nearest supernova in five years, yet is completely obscured in optical, ultraviolet and X-rays due to the dense medium of the galaxy," said Geoffrey Bower, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Read more. Source: University of California Berkeley

VB 10 and its new-found planet. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Planet-hunting method succeeds at last
(May 29, 2009)


A long-proposed tool for hunting planets has netted its first catch – a Jupiter-like planet orbiting one of the smallest stars known. The technique, called astrometry, was first attempted 50 years ago to search for planets outside our solar system, called exoplanets. It involves measuring the precise motions of a star on the sky as an unseen planet tugs the star back and forth.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Corot-1B
Yin-yang planet has phases like the moon
(May 28, 2009)


A super-hot planet 1500 light years away has been seen waxing and waning like the moon. The discovery hints that hot gas giants come in two varieties. The phases of Corot 1b were detected by a team at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, who analysed changes in the amount of red light from the system.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

M87
Giant galaxy Messier 87 finally sized up
(May 28, 2009)


Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have succeeded in measuring the size of giant galaxy Messier 87 and were surprised to find that its outer parts have been stripped away by still unknown effects. The galaxy also appears to be on a collision course with another giant galaxy in the Virgo Cluster.

Read more. Source: European Southern Observatory

Earthlike planet
EPOXI Team develops new method to find alien oceans
(May 27, 2009)


Astronomers have found more than 300 extrasolar worlds so far. Sometime in the near future astronomers will probably find one that's just right for life-as-we-know – a planet with a solid surface that's the right distance for a temperature that allows liquid water. NASA-sponsored scientists looking back at Earth with the Deep Impact/EPOXI mission have developed a method to indicate whether Earth-like extrasolar worlds have oceans.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Tagish meteorite
Space rock yields carbon bounty
(May 26, 2009)


Formic acid, a molecule implicated in the origins of life, has been found at record levels on a meteorite that fell into a Canadian lake in 2000. Cold temperatures on Tagish Lake prevented the volatile chemical from dissipating quickly. An analysis showed four times more formic acid in the fragments than has been recorded on previous meteorites.

Read more. Source: BBC

asteroid collision with Earth
Asteroid bombardment may have boosted early Earth life
(May 26, 2009)


The bombardment of Earth nearly 4 billion years ago by asteroids as large as Kansas would not have had the firepower to extinguish potential early life on the planet and may even have given it a boost, says a new University of Colorado at Boulder study. The new research opens up the possibility that life emerged as far back as 4.4 billion years ago, about the time the first oceans are thought to have formed.

Read more. Source: University of Colorado

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