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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: November 2009
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galaxy cluster
Mystery 'dark flow' extends towards edge of universe
(Nov 16, 2009)

Something big is out there beyond the visible edge of our universe. That's the conclusion of the largest analysis to date of over 1000 galaxy clusters streaming in one direction at blistering speeds. Some researchers say this so-called "dark flow" is a sign that other universes nestle next door.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Atlantis blasts off on November 16, 2009
Blast off for Atlantis shuttle
(Nov 16, 2009)

The US space shuttle Atlantis has blasted off from Florida on a mission to deliver spare parts to the International Space Station. Lift-off took place at 1928 GMT (1428 EST) on Monday from the Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral. There are just five more shuttle launches scheduled before the planned retirement of the fleet in 2010.

Read more. Source: BBC

Lunar impact tosses up water and stranger stuff
(Nov 14, 2009)

The debate is finally over. Lunar scientists have detected water for certain near the north pole of the Moon, after the impact of a NASA projectile kicked up water vapour along with a plume of dust. But it's not just about the water, say the scientists, who found hints in the plume of other, more exotic molecules, ranging from hydrocarbons to mercury.

Read more. Source: Nature

'Large amounts' of water on Moon
(Nov 13, 2009)

NASA's experiment last month to find water on the Moon was a major success, agency scientists have announced. The agency smashed a rocket and probe into a large crater at the lunar south pole, hoping to kick up ice. Scientists who have studied the data now say instruments trained on the impact plume saw copious quantities of water vapor.

Read more. Source: BBC

Rosetta makes final home call
(Nov 13, 2009)

Europe's Rosetta probe has made its third and final flyby of Earth as it seeks to position itself to chase down a comet in 2014. The spacecraft's whip around the planet will give it the extra speed it needs to take it out to the rendezvous location near Jupiter. Launched in 2004, Rosetta has already flown by Earth twice and Mars once.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist's impression of a dust disk around a young star. Image: ESO / L. Calcada
Lithium clue for planet-hunters
(Nov 12, 2009)

Astronomers may have found a way to identify those Sun-like stars most likely to harbour orbiting planets. A survey of stars known to possess planets shows the vast majority to be severely depleted in lithium. To date, scientists have detected just over 420 worlds circling other stars using a range of techniques.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist's impression of a solar sail in Earth orbit. Image: Rick Sternback / Planetary Society
Propelled by light: the promise and perils of solar sailing
(Nov 12, 2009)

Earlier this week, the Planetary Society, a space advocacy group in Pasadena, California, received an anonymous donation to build and launch a small solar-sail driven spacecraft. The Society hopes to launch the sail in about a year as part of a three-stage plan to demonstrate the viability of solar sail propulsion, which has never been tested in orbit.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Kapteyn's Star. Image: ESO Online Digitized Sky Survey
Backward star ain't from around here
(Nov 11, 2009)

A dim star just 13 light years from Earth was born in a cluster 17,000 light years away. Discovered in 1897, Kapteyn's Star is the 25th nearest star system to our sun, but it is no local, says Elizabeth Wylie-de Boer of Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Artist impression of Rosetta approaching the Earth
Will probe's upcoming fly-by unlock exotic physics?
(Nov 11, 2009)

What's causing spacecraft to mysteriously accelerate? The Rosetta comet chaser's fly-by of Earth on 13 November is a perfect opportunity to get to the bottom of it. The anomaly emerged in 1990, when NASA's Galileo spacecraft whizzed by Earth to get a boost from our planet's gravity and gained 3.9 millimeters per second more than expected.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Simulation of colliding white dwarfs. Image source: James Guillochon, UCSC
Colliding white dwarfs may mimic type Ia supernovae
(Nov 10, 2009)

Stellar explosions known as type Ia supernovae have proved invaluable to astrophysicists as markers of cosmic distance. But the mechanisms for forming these events are still not well understood. A new simulation suggests that a variety of scenarios could lead to them, including a collision between unbound white dwarfs.

Read more. Source: Scientific American

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