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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: February 2010
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Cassini set to do retinal scan of Saturnian eyeball
(Feb 12, 2010)

Cassini will make its closest examination yet of Mimas, an eyeball-shaped moon of Saturn that has also been likened to the Death Star of "Star Wars." The spacecraft will be returning the highest-resolution images yet of this battered satellite. Mimas bears the mark of a violent, giant impact from the past – the 140km-wide Herschel Crater – and scientists hope the encounter will help them explain why the moon was not blown to smithereens when the impact happened.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

dark matter graphic
Study hints at dark matter action
(Feb 12, 2010)

Researchers in the US say they have detected two signals which could possibly indicate the presence of particles of dark matter. But the study in Science journal reports the statistical likelihood of a detection of dark matter as 23%. Deep underground in a lab in Minnesota experiments to detect WIMPS, or Weakly Interacting Massive Particles have been going on since 2003.

Read more. Source: BBC

SDO launch
Solar Dynamics Observatory lifts off
(Feb 12, 2010)

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, launched at 10:23:00 a.m. EST aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The spacecraft separated from its launch vehicle on-time after a flawless climb into orbit.

Read more. Source: NASA

barchans on Mars
Bouncing sands explain Mars' rippled surface
(Feb 11, 2010)

Once Martian sand grains hop, they don’t stop. That's the conclusion of a new study that finds sand can move on Mars without much windy encouragement. Mars' sandy surface has clearly been shaped by wind. Its characteristic dunes and ripples are the kind formed by sand particles taking short wind-borne hops, a process called saltation.

Read more. Source: Science News

solar activity
Sat-nav devices face big errors as solar activity rises
(Feb 10, 2010)

Researchers say the Sun is awakening after a period of low activity, which does not bode well for a world ever more dependent on satellite navigation. The Sun's irregular activity can wreak havoc with the weak sat-nav signals we use. The last time the Sun reached a peak in activity, satellite navigation was barely a consumer product.

Read more. Source: BBC

Solar Dynamics Observatory
Solar observatory set for launch
(Feb 10, 2010)

NASA will attempt to launch its latest Sun probe on Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Solar Dynamics Observatory will acquire detailed images of our star to try to get a keener understanding of why it behaves the way it does. When the Sun throws billions of tons of charged particles towards the Earth, it can disrupt communications, satellite and power systems.

Read more. Source: BBC

NGC 3603
The stars behind the curtain
(Feb 9, 2010)

ESO is releasing a magnificent VLT image of the giant stellar nursery surrounding NGC 3603, in which stars are continuously being born. Embedded in this nebula is one of the most luminous and most compact clusters of young, massive stars in our Milky Way. The cluster also hosts the most massive star to be "weighed" so far.

Read more. Source: European Southern Observatory

CMS detector at CERN
CERN gears up its computers for more atom smashing
(Feb 9, 2010)

A deluge of high-energy physics data is headed toward servers in Geneva, Switzerland, later this month. That's because the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) now says it plans to restart its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) soon for a run that could last as long as two years at a collision energy of seven TeV (tera–electron volts, 3.5 TeV per beam).

Read more. Source: Scientific American

Cassini detection adds to Enceladus liquid water story
(Feb 8, 2010)

There seems little doubt that Saturn's moon Enceladus hides a large body of liquid water beneath its icy skin. The Cassini probe, which periodically sweeps past the little moon, has returned yet more data to back up the idea of a sub-surface sea. This time, it is the detection of negatively charged water molecules in the atmosphere of Enceladus.

Read more. Source: BBC

Endeavour on the launch pad, February 2010
Shuttle Endeavour launches from Florida
(Feb 8, 2010)

The US space shuttle has made its final night launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Endeavour orbiter soared into the Florida sky on a 13-day mission to the International Space Station.

Read more. Source: BBC

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