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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: September 2009
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manned Mars spacecraft
Too much radiation for astronauts to make it to Mars
(Sep 16, 2009)

Forget the risk of exploding rockets or getting sideswiped by a wayward bit of space junk. Radiation may be the biggest hurdle to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and could put a damper on a recently proposed mission to Mars orbit.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Could we create quantum creatures in the lab?
(Sep 16, 2009)

Quantum weirdness could soon invade the living world, if a scheme to give a flu virus a strange double life comes off. The method might work on more complex life forms too. In quantum theory, a single object can be doing two different things at once.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

lightning storm on Saturn. Image: NASA
Lightning storm on Saturn is longest in solar system
(Sep 16, 2009)

A lightning storm that has been raging beneath Saturn's placid exterior for eight months is the longest ever observed in the solar system. The marathon maelstrom generates lightning bolts that are about 10,000 times as strong as those on Earth.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Jupiter had brief encounter with icy companion
(Sep 15, 2009)

The planet Jupiter seems to be as promiscuous as its Olympian namesake. New calculations reveal that in the middle of the last century it had a fling with a wayward comet, which for 12 years joined the gas giant's harem of moons. The finding helps to explain how comets move from the outer solar system into inner, sometimes Earth-threatening orbits.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Crunch time for Russia Mars probe
(Sep 14, 2009)

Less than two months before the scheduled launch of Russia's flagship planetary spacecraft, officials are set to recommend a delay until 2011. The Phobos-Grunt mission aims to land on the Martian moon Phobos to collect soil samples and return them to Earth. Sources within the Russian space industry gave details of the likely postponement.

Read more. Source: BBC

Cabeus A
Target crater revealed for LCROSS lunar south pole impacts
(Sep 14, 2009)

NASA has selected a final destination for its Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) after a journey of nearly 5.6 million miles that included several orbits around Earth and the moon. The mission team announced Wednesday that Cabeus A will be the target crater for the LCROSS dual impacts scheduled for 7:30 a.m. EDT on Oct. 9, 2009. It was selected as the optimal location for LCROSS' evaluation of whether water ice exists at the lunar south pole.

Read more. Source: NASA

Discovery leaves the ISS. Image: NASA
US space shuttle returns to Earth
(Sep 12, 2009)

NASA's space shuttle Discovery has landed at the Edwards air force base in California. Plans to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida were postponed due to bad weather. The shuttle missed two landing slots on Thursday, before landing at 1753 PDT on Friday (0053GMT Saturday).

Read more. Source: BBC

Schrodinger virus graphic. Image: Romero-Isart et al
Physicists propose 'Schrödinger's virus' experiment
(Sep 11, 2009)

Suspending a cat between life and death is one of the best-known thought experiments in quantum mechanics. Now researchers from Germany and Spain are proposing a real experiment to probe whether a virus can exist in a superposition of two quantum states.

Read more. Source: Nature

It's hard to tell from this angle, but this mouse is floating in the air, thanks to a super-strong magnetic field. Image: NASA JPL
Mighty Mouse takes off – thanks to magnets
(Sep 11, 2009)

With the aid of a strong magnetic field, mice have been made to levitate for hours at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The floating rodents could provide a valuable insight into how astronauts are affected by extended spells in zero gravity.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

HTV impression. Image: JAXA
Japan's space freighter in orbit
(Sep 10, 2009)

Japan has successfully launched its new space freighter from the Tanegashima base in the south of the country. The 16.5-tonne unmanned H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) is on a mission to re-supply the space station. Its role is vitally important to the station project, which is set to lose the servicing capability of the US shuttle fleet next year.

Read more. Source: BBC

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