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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2009
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Phoenix Lander
Mars robots may have destroyed evidence of life
(May 25, 2009)


Have Mars landers been destroying signs of life? Instead of identifying chemicals that could point to life, NASA's robot explorers may have been toasting them by mistake.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Atlantis lands at Edwards Air Force Base, May 25, 2009
Space shuttle lands in California
(May 24, 2009)


The space shuttle Atlantis has landed in California, where it was diverted after continuing stormy weather prevented a Florida touchdown. Atlantis landed at 1539 GMT at Edwards Air Force Base. Officials had aborted Saturday's planned landing at the Kennedy Space Center for the second consecutive day.

Read more. Source: BBC

Charles Bolden
Former astronaut nominated as next NASA chief
(May 24, 2009)


The White House has nominated Charles Bolden to be the next NASA Administrator. A retired Marine Corps major general and former astronaut who piloted the space shuttle that carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit in 1990, Bolden has been considered a top candidate for the job since President Obama's election.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

National Ignition Facility
Man-made star to unlock cosmic secrets
(May 23, 2009)


When the world's most powerful laser facility flicks the switch on its first full-scale experiments later this month, a tiny star will be born on Earth. The National Ignition Facility in California aims to demonstrate the feasibility of nuclear fusion, the reaction at the heart of the Sun. But whilst many eyes at the facility will be locked on the goal of satisfying humanity's energy demands, many scientists hope to answer other fundamental questions for mankind.

Read more. Source: BBC

millisecond pulsar binary pulsar
New light shed on pulsar puzzle
(May 22, 2009)


Astronomers have shed light on the mysterious origins of the fastest spinning stars known to science – millisecond pulsars. Pulsars are dense, highly magnetised dead stars that emit radio waves along their magnetic poles. These waves sweep around as the star rotates, a bit like lighthouse beams.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mars
Chilly brine could have harbored life on Mars
(May 21, 2009)


Mars may have had a wet, life-friendly past without ever getting warmer than the freezing point of water. So concludes a new study that investigates what would happen to various mineral solutions on Mars. Researchers found that solutions containing certain combinations of sulfur, silicon and other ions stay liquid even down to -28°C – a much more plausible temperature for early Mars than one above 0°C.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Hubble Space Telescope
Space shuttle releases upgraded Hubble
(May 20, 2009)


A spruced-up Hubble Space Telescope has been released back into space after five days of spacewalks to repair and upgrade the ageing observatory. The space shuttle Atlantis will now make its way back to Earth, ending the $1.1 billion mission, which aimed to extend Hubble's life to at least 2014 and vastly improve its vision.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

STEREO image of coronal mass ejection
Stealth storm erupts from the Sun
(May 20, 2009)


The twin STEREO probes that image the Sun's activity have caught sight of coronal mass ejection – a burp of ionized gas – that blasted into space from our star's surface without warning. The find confirms suspicions that some solar ejections can occur even though the surface of the Sun looks tranquil.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Astronaut John Grunsfeld on the shuttle robotic arm
Fifth spacewalk energises Hubble
(May 19, 2009)


Shuttle Atlantis astronauts have completed the fifth and final spacewalk to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel renewed the observatory's batteries which enable it to keep operating when its solar panels are in shadow. They also replaced a fine-guidance sensor that helps keep the telescope's gaze precisely fixed on image targets.

Read more. Source: BBC

WMAP
Flat universe may be the new flat Earth
(May 19, 2009)


Thanks in part to the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite, which revealed the density of matter and dark energy in the early universe, most astronomers are confident that the universe is flat. But that view is now being questioned by Joseph Silk at the University of Oxford and colleagues, who say it's possible that the WMAP observations have been misinterpreted.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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