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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: October 2009
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artwork of Ares I launch
'Shuttle replacement' set to fly
(Oct 26, 2009)


A rocket designed to replace the aging space shuttle is set for its first test-flight, despite questions over the future of the program. If there are clear skies, the 100m-long Ares I-X will blast off from the Kennedy Space Center on 27 October. The two-minute flight will allow NASA to test technology crucial for the development of the manned Ares I craft.

Read more. Source: BBC

exoplanet
Meet Peristera, the 'female pigeon' exoplanet
(Oct 26, 2009)


The profusion of planets discovered around other stars in the past 15 years has led to a naming problem. Most of these exoplanets are known only by drab scientific designations like MOA-2007-BLG-400-L b. Unsatisfied with this situation, Wladimir Lyra, an expert on planet formation, has proposed new names for all 400 of them.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

This image was acquired during MESSENGER's third flyby of Mercury on September 29, 2009, and shows a double-ring impact basin that was seen for the first time. Double-ring structures are common to large basins, but the floor of this basin also contains concentric troughs, which formed by surface extension and are rare on Mercury
Probe uncovers Mercury's youthful secret
(Oct 24, 2009)


A newly discovered crater on Mercury may have been geologically active as recently as a billion years ago. The discovery was made by NASA's Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft on its latest fly-by of the innermost planet of the Solar System on 29 September.

Read more. Source: Nature

Rosetta. Image source: ESA
Last visit home for ESA's comet chaser
(Oct 24, 2009)


ESA's Rosetta comet chaser will swing by Earth on 13 November to pick up orbital energy and begin the final leg of its 10-year journey to the outer Solar System. Several observations of the Earth–Moon system are planned before the spacecraft heads out to study comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Read more. Source: ESA

Artist's impression of the Orion capsule during re-entry
Panel supports commercial space
(Oct 23, 2009)


Experts asked to review the US human spaceflight program have given strong support to the use of commercial services to launch astronauts. The Augustine panel published its final report on Thursday and said America could find cheaper, faster successors to the shuttle in the private sector. The US space agency is developing two new rockets and a crew capsule.

Read more. Source: BBC

JKCS041 galaxy cluster. Image: X-ray: NASA/CXC/INAF/S.Andreon et al Optical: DSS; ESO/VLT
JKCS041: Galaxy cluster smashes distance record
(Oct 23, 2009)


This is a composite image of the most distant galaxy cluster yet detected. This image contains X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, optical data from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and optical and infrared data from the Digitized Sky Survey. This record-breaking object, known as JKCS041, is observed as it was when the Universe was just one quarter of its current age.

Read more. Source: NASA/Chandra

This 65-meter-wide hole in the lunar surface extends at least 80 meters down and could be an opening into a larger lunar cave. Image: ISAS/JAXA/Junichi Haruyama et al.
Found: first 'skylight' on the Moon
(Oct 23, 2009)


A deep hole on the Moon that could open into a vast underground tunnel has been found for the first time. The discovery strengthens evidence for subsurface, lava-carved channels that could shield future human colonists from space radiation and other hazards.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Surface of Europa. Image: NASA
Laser microscope aims to uncover alien life
(Oct 23, 2009)


Microscopes revolutionized the study of life on Earth. Now a rugged, easy-to-use instrument is aiming to be equally influential in the search for alien life in locations such as the oceans beneath the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. Called the digital inline holographic microscope, it consists of a pair of watertight compartments separated by a chamber into which water can flow.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Artist's impression of HD_209458b
Astronomers find organic molecules around second gas giant
(Oct 22, 2009)


Peering far beyond our solar system, NASA researchers have detected the basic chemistry for life in a second hot gas planet, HD 209458b, advancing astronomers toward the goal of being able to characterize planets where life could exist. The planet is not habitable but it has the same chemistry that, if found around a rocky planet in the future, could indicate the presence of life.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Looking toward the core of the Milky Way
Bright light hints at a dark center to the Galaxy
(Oct 21, 2009)


Researchers are once again proposing that an orbiting telescope may have seen evidence for dark matter – the undetected material that is believed to permeate the Universe. The Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope has captured flashes of high-energy gamma rays that might come from dark matter, according to Lisa Goodenough of New York University in New York City and Dan Hooper at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

Read more. Source: Nature

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