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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2010
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Asteroid probe 'on home straight' May 31, 2010
Comet strike could explain Neptune's air May 30, 2010
Aircraft smashes record for longest 'scramjet' flight May 28, 2010
NASA's Swift survey finds 'smoking gun' of black hole activation May 28, 2010
Undersea cauldrons replicated life's ingredients May 28, 2010
Cosmic hit-and-runs create failed stars May 28, 2010
NASA orbiter penetrates mysteries of martian ice cap May 27, 2010
Atlantis shuttle lands at Kennedy May 26, 2010
Darwinian spacecraft engine to last twice as long May 25, 2010
Hubble spots a planet-eating star May 24, 2010
Two peas in an irregular pod May 24, 2010
Ariane 5 rocket makes 50th flight May 23, 2010
Craig Venter creates synthetic life form May 21, 2010
Japan launches Akatsuki probe to Venus May 21, 2010
Pluto's moons get ready for their close-up May 21, 2010
Hunting for scraps from galactic cannibal feasts May 20, 2010
Stellar blast sparks controversy May 19, 2010
New clue to antimatter mystery May 19, 2010
Russian module added to station May 19, 2010
Cassini double play: Enceladus and Titan May 18, 2010
LHC particle search 'nearing', says physicist May 17, 2010
Martian moon probably pretty porous May 17, 2010
Planets in nearby system are off-kilter May 17, 2010
Asteroid caught marching across Tadpole Nebula May 16, 2010
Atlantis launches on final voyage May 15, 2010
Venus orbiter to fly close to super-rotating wind May 14, 2010
Herschel finds a hole in space May 13, 2010
Maiden voyage for first true space sail May 13, 2010
Rock and toll: Titan's gem tumbler May 13, 2010
Ancient city of galaxies looks surprisingly modern May 13, 2010
Black hole 'hurled out of galaxy' May 12, 2010
Jupiter loses a stripe May 12, 2010
Newton's apple tree sample to go into space May 11, 2010
Is Halley's comet an alien interloper? May 10, 2010
Engineers diagnosing Voyager 2 data system May 10, 2010
Cosmic rays help make small galaxies invisible May 8, 2010
Baffling quasar alignment hints at cosmic strings May 7, 2010
Cosmic 'dandruff' may have brought carbon to Earth May 7, 2010
Scramjet with stamina ready for hypersonic test May 6, 2010
Herschel Space Telescope pierces giant star bubble May 6, 2010
New Hubble pictures suggest Milky Way fell together May 6, 2010
Early results from large dark matter detector cast doubt on earlier claims May 6, 2010
Elusive tetraquark spotted in a data forest May 5, 2010
African rocks record ancient magnetic field May 4, 2010
"Survivor" black holes may be mid-sized May 4, 2010
Mars rover sees distant crater rims on horizon May 2, 2010


Hayabusa
Asteroid probe 'on home straight'
(May 31, 2010)


An unmanned Japanese spacecraft designed to return samples from an asteroid has completed an important step on its journey back to Earth. Hayabusa achieved the second and largest of four engine firings designed to guide the probe back home. The probe visited the asteroid Itokawa in 2005, making close approaches designed to capture soil samples.

Read more. Source: BBC

Neptune
Comet strike could explain Neptune's air
(May 30, 2010)


Did a large, icy comet smash into Neptune two centuries ago? That's the picture that is emerging from the latest measurements of gases in the atmosphere of the giant blue planet which reveally abnormally high levels of carbon monoxide.

Read more. Source: Nature

X-51A
Aircraft smashes record for longest 'scramjet' flight
(May 28, 2010)


A sleek aircraft called the X-51A WaveRider has set the record for the longest hypersonic flight using an air-breathing "scramjet" engine. The engine operated for about 150 seconds – smashing the record set by NASA's X-43 vehicle, which flew for 10 seconds or so in 2004.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Interacting group of galaxies, including NGC 7319 with active core (circles)
NASA's Swift survey finds 'smoking gun' of black hole activation
(May 28, 2010)


Data from an ongoing survey by NASA's Swift satellite have helped astronomers solve a decades-long mystery about why a small percentage of black holes emit vast amounts of energy. Only about 1% of supermassive black holes exhibit this behavior. The new findings confirm that black holes "light up" when galaxies collide.

Read more. Source: NASA

Undersea vent
Undersea cauldrons replicated life's ingredients
(May 28, 2010)


The precursor of life may have learned how to copy itself thanks to simple convection at the bottom of the ocean. Lab experiments reveal how DNA replication could have occurred in tiny pores around undersea vents.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Simulation of a circumstellar disk around a Sun-type star being perturbed by a close star-star encounter. Image: Ingo Thies, Pavel Kroupai and Simon P. Goodwin et al
Cosmic hit-and-runs create failed stars
(May 28, 2010)


Close encounters between swerving young stars might help spawn the brown dwarfs riddling the Milky Way. A team from the University of Bonn carried out simulations whichshowed that young stars that zoom close enough to their siblings can destabilize the surrounding gas disks, allowing denser areas to collapse rapidly and form brown dwarf-sized objects

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Mars north polar cap
NASA orbiter penetrates mysteries of martian ice cap
(May 27, 2010)


Data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have helped scientists solve a pair of mysteries dating back four decades and provided new information about climate change on the Red Planet. The Shallow Radar, or SHARAD, instrument aboard MRO revealed subsurface geology allowing scientists to reconstruct the formation of a large chasm and a series of spiral troughs on the northern ice cap.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Atlantis landing
Atlantis shuttle lands at Kennedy
(May 26, 2010)


The Atlantis shuttle has landed at the Kennedy Space Center after what looks to have been its final mission. The vehicle touched down on runway 33 at the Florida spaceport at 0848 local time (1248 GMT). Atlantis, with its six-person crew, has just delivered a Russian mini-module and spare equipment to the International Space Station.

Read more. Source: BBC

XIPS ion engine
Darwinian spacecraft engine to last twice as long
(May 25, 2010)


Space agencies may one day have Charles Darwin to thank for the longevity of their spacecraft. The life expectancy of a popular type of ion engine has been almost doubled using software that mimics the way natural selection evolves ever fitter designs.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Artist's impression of a planet-eating star
Hubble spots a planet-eating star
(May 24, 2010)


The Hubble Space Telescope has captured evidence of a Sun-like star "eating" a nearby planet. Astronomers knew that stars were capable of swallowing planets in orbit around them, but this is the first time the event has been "seen" so clearly. Although the planet was too far away for Hubble to photograph, scientists have created an image of it, based on analysis of the telescope's data.

Read more. Source: BBC

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