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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: October 2009
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artwork of Aries I-X launch
Roll-out for NASA's test rocket
(Oct 20, 2009)

The US space agency will roll out its Ares 1-X test rocket later. The super-slim, 100m-tall launcher is a demonstrator for the vehicle NASA plans to use in the next decade to take its new astronaut crewship into orbit. The Ares I-X is expected to make an unmanned, two-minute flight at the end of the month to check out basic design concepts and gather engineering data.

Read more. Source: BBC

artwork of Gliese 667C
Scientists announce planet bounty
(Oct 19, 2009)

Astronomers have announced a haul of planets found beyond our Solar System. The 32 "exoplanets" ranged in size from six times the mass of Earth to 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter, the researchers said. The objects were found using the HARPS spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory (ESO) 3.6m telescope at La Silla in Chile.

Read more. Source: BBC

The Earth at night
To spot an alien, follow the pollution trail
(Oct 19, 2009)

Do aliens pollute their planets? Let's hope they do, as this would give us a promising way of spotting where they live. Observed over interstellar distances, theylight from our cities would reveal to the observer the presence of a technology, says a team of astronomers led by Jean Schneider of the Paris Observatory at Meudon, France. In a paper to appear in Astrobiology, the team suggests we should look for a similar glow on alien planets.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

This image, made from three snapshots taken by the trailing spacecraft's visible camera 15 seconds after impact, shows a plume about 6 to 8 km wide. Image: NASA
Elusive lunar plume caught on camera after all
(Oct 18, 2009)

The first image of lunar material kicked up by the impact of NASA's LCROSS mission has been released, a week after the impact occurred. It was taken by a spacecraft trailing behind the impactor, whose bird's-eye view allowed it to see what has so far eluded the best telescopes on Earth and in Earth-orbit.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

artificial black hole. Image: Q. Cheng and T. J. Cui
Researchers create portable black hole
(Oct 17, 2009)

Physicists have created a black hole for light that can fit in your coat pocket. Their device, which measures just 22 centimeters across, can suck up microwave light and convert it into heat. The hole is the latest clever device to use 'metamaterials', specially engineered materials that can bend light in unusual ways.

Read more. Source: Nature

ATLAS detector
LHC gets colder than deep space
(Oct 16, 2009)

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment has once again become one of the coldest places in the Universe. All eight sectors of the LHC have now been cooled to their operating temperature of 1.9 kelvin (-271C; -456F) – colder than deep space. The large magnets that bend particle beams around the LHC are kept at this frigid temperature using liquid helium.

Read more. Source: BBC

Was Moon-smashing mission doomed from the start?
(Oct 16, 2009)

Weeks before NASA's LCROSS mission crashed into the Moon, some scientists involved with the mission were predicting very little, if anything, would be seen from the impact – despite a well publicised observing campaign. Others now say the $79 million mission was ill conceived and will not deliver a meaningful result even if it manages to find evidence for water on the Moon.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Glimpses of Solar System's edge
(Oct 15, 2009)

The first results from NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft have shown unexpected features at our Solar System's edge. IBEX was launched nearly one year ago to map the heliosphere, the region of space defined by the extent of our Sun's solar wind. IBEX's first glimpses show that the heliosphere is not shaped as many astronomers have believed.

Read more. Source: BBC

spin ice
'Magnetic electricity' discovered
(Oct 15, 2009)

Researchers have discovered a magnetic equivalent to electricity: single magnetic charges that can behave and interact like electrical ones. The work is the first to make use of the magnetic monopoles that exist in special crystals known as spin ice. Writing in Nature journal, a team showed that monopoles gather to form a "magnetic current" like electricity.

Read more. Source: BBC

Saturn's rings
What shook up Saturn's rings in 1984?
(Oct 15, 2009)

It's emerging that an event around 25 years ago dramatically disrupted Saturn's rings – and all our telescopes and spacecraft missed it. This mysterious event suddenly warped the planet's innermost rings into a ridged spiral pattern, like the grooves on a vinyl record. The latest images reveal that the perturbation is so vast that only a profound change to the planet can have caused it.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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