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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: December 2010
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Habitable and not-so-habitable exoplanets Dec 29, 2010
Space rock surprise Dec 26, 2010
2011 preview: Private space flight takes off Dec 24, 2010
How often do giant black holes become hyperactive? Dec 22, 2010
Amazing exoplanets Dec 21, 2010
Microwave radiation map hints at other universes Dec 18, 2010
No black holes found at LHC – yet Dec 18, 2010
Iapetus moon's mighty ridge stirs debate Dec 17, 2010
Life may have survived 'Snowball Earth' in ocean pockets Dec 16, 2010
Cassini spots potential ice volcano on Saturn moon Dec 15, 2010
Voyager near Solar System's edge Dec 14, 2010
'Superscope' yields first glimpse of Double Quasar Dec 12, 2010
Quartet of giant planets puzzles astronomers Dec 10, 2010
Private space capsule's maiden voyage ends with splash Dec 9, 2010
'Diamond exoplanet' idea boosted by telescope find Dec 8, 2010
Japan's Akatsuki probe fails to enter Venus orbit Dec 8, 2010
New species of bacteria found in Titanic 'rusticles' Dec 7, 2010
Optical wing generates lift from light Dec 6, 2010
X-37B US miltary spaceplane returns to Earth Dec 4, 2010
Arsenic-loving bacteria may help in hunt for alien life Dec 2, 2010
'Super-Earth' atmosphere measured Dec 2, 2010
'Trillions' of Earths orbit red stars in older galaxies Dec 2, 2010
Ball lightning 'may explain UFOs' Dec 1, 2010

Earthlike planet
Habitable and not-so-habitable exoplanets
(Dec 29, 2010)

An exoplanet doesn’t have to be capable of supporting life in order to tell us about the universe we live in. In fact, some planets that are very different to our own may be about to turn our theories about planet and solar system formation upside down.

Read more. Source: Scientific American

meteorite from 2008 TC3
Space rock surprise
(Dec 26, 2010)

Planetary scientists have found amino acids, building blocks of life, in an unexpected place: a meteorite whose parent asteroid formed at temperatures so high that such fragile organic compounds should have been destroyed. One explanation for the surprising discovery is that some amino acids might form through a mechanism that does not require the presence of water, upping the chances of finding life beyond the solar system.

Read more. Source: Science News

Simulation of SpaceX Dragon in orbit
2011 preview: Private space flight takes off
(Dec 24, 2010)

Private companies have been promising for years that they can slash the cost of space travel, breaking the government monopoly on space flight and opening up the final frontier to the rest of us. At long last these efforts may be bearing fruit. Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are likely to dominate headlines in the coming year, and may make 2011 the most exciting yet for private space flight.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Abell 644 and field galaxy
How often do giant black holes become hyperactive?
(Dec 22, 2010)

A new study reveals how often some of the biggest black holes are active. These results come from a massive survey of galaxies using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The study has important implications for how a galaxy's environment affects the growth of the black hole at its center.

Read more. Source: NASA/Chandra

Impression of Upsilon Andromedae b
Amazing exoplanets
(Dec 21, 2010)

Hundreds of planets around other stars have been discovered recently, but many centuries may pass before human eyes actually see them up close. Interpreting current data, Hugo award-winning artist Ron Miller takes us to seven of the most fascinating of these worlds.

Read more. Source: Scientific American

The four candidate 'bruises' are in the lower-right quadrant of this all-sky map of the CMB, in green, light blue, red, and orange. Image: S. Feeney et al
Microwave radiation map hints at other universes
(Dec 18, 2010)

Collisions between our cosmos and other universes may have left round "bruises" in a map of ancient cosmic radiation. NStephen Feeney of University College London and colleagues say they may have spotted such imprints in the cosmic microwave background, the all-sky glow that comes from photons emitted when the universe was less than 400,000 years old.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

CMS detector at CERN
No black holes found at LHC – yet
(Dec 18, 2010)

The Large Hadron Collider has not yet seen any of the microscopic black holes that inspired numerous scare stories in recent years. Many theorists actually hope the collider, based near Geneva, Switzerland, will create short-lived, miniature black holes. These would not pose a threat to Earth, but they would provide evidence for hypothetical extra dimensions that might lie beyond the 3D world we normally experience.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

ridge on Iapetus
Iapetus moon's mighty ridge stirs debate
(Dec 17, 2010)

The mountainous ridge that circles the equator on the Saturnian moon Iapetus is both weird and spectacular. Discovered in 2004, the icy rim is as much as 20km high and runs fully 1,600km from end to end. No explanation for its existence has yet won total support; it is a puzzle. Andrew Dombard and colleagues have now made a compelling case for the ridge being the remains of a huge ring of debris that once orbited Iapetus but which eventually fell on to the moon.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist's impression of Snowball Earth
Life may have survived 'Snowball Earth' in ocean pockets
(Dec 16, 2010)

Life may have survived a cataclysmic global freeze some 700 million years ago in pockets of open ocean. Researchers claim to have found evidence in Australia that turbulent seas still raged during the period, where micro-organisms may have clung on for life. Conditions on what is dubbed Snowball Earth were so harsh that most life is thought to have perished.

Read more. Source: BBC

Image based on data from Cassini showing a flyover of an area of Titan known as Sotra Facula. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS/University of Arizona
Cassini spots potential ice volcano on Saturn moon
(Dec 15, 2010)

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has found possible ice volcanoes on Saturn's moon Titan that are similar in shape to those on Earth that spew molten rock. Topography and surface composition data have enabled scientists to make the best case yet in the outer solar system for an Earth-like volcano landform that erupts in ice. The results were presented today at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

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