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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2010
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New evidence from the Spitzer Space Telescope is showing that tight-knit twin stars might be triggered to form by asymmetrical envelopes like the ones shown here. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Michigan
Two peas in an irregular pod
(May 24, 2010)


Our sun may be an only child, but most of the stars in the galaxy are actually twins. New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope are acting like sonograms to reveal the early birth process of binary stars in which the members are close together. The Spitzer pictures reveal blob-like, asymmetrical envelopes for nearly all of 20 objects studied. According to astronomers, such irregularities might trigger binary stars to form.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Launch of Ariane 5 on its 50th flight
Ariane 5 rocket makes 50th flight
(May 23, 2010)


Europe's Ariane 5 rocket has made its 50th flight from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. The rocket lifted away from the launch pad at 2201 GMT, carrying two telecommunications satellites with a combined mass of almost eight tonnes. After failing on its very first mission in 1996, the Ariane 5 has developed into a highly reliable vehicle with a dominant role in the launcher market.

Read more. Source: BBC

Craig Venter and the first artificial life form he and his team have created
Craig Venter creates synthetic life form
(May 21, 2010)


Scientists have created the world's first synthetic life form in a landmark experiment that paves the way for designer organisms that are built rather than evolved. The controversial feat, which has occupied 20 scientists for more than 10 years at an estimated cost of $40m, was described by one researcher as "a defining moment in biology".

Read more. Source: The Guardian

Akatsuki orbiter
Japan launches Akatsuki probe to Venus
(May 21, 2010)


Japan has sent a sophisticated probe to Venus study its atmosphere in unprecedented detail. The Akatsuki orbiter was put on a path to the inner-world by an H-IIA rocket launched from the Tanegashima spaceport in the south of the country. The vehicle left its pad at 2158 GMT (0658 local time Friday).

Read more. Source: BBC

Pluto and its moons
Pluto's moons get ready for their close-up
(May 21, 2010)


Nix and Hydra, the far-flung satellites of Pluto and its large moon Charon, could hold the key in understanding how this beguiling four-body system actually formed. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope indicate that the two satellites vary in brightness, suggesting that they are very elongated – more like asteroids than spherical moons.

Read more. Source: Nature

Distorted spiral galaxies. Images: David Martínez-Delgado, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy/IAC, and colleagues
Hunting for scraps from galactic cannibal feasts
(May 20, 2010)


Stunning spiral galaxies may look serene, but in their dim outskirts there are signs of past violence: the shredded remains of other galaxies. Now a team of astronomers hope to figure out how common these remnants are. If they succeed, the survey could tell us more about the origin of galaxies like our own.

Read more. Source: BBC

The explosion may be caused by a heavier 'thief' star stealing helium from its neighbor
Stellar blast sparks controversy
(May 19, 2010)


Astronomers have put forward opposing explanations for what could be a new type of exploding star or supernova. Supernova 2005E was initially picked up by telescopes back in 2005 and has been carefully examined by scientists. They now report, in the journal Nature, that the explosion does not match known types of supernova.

Read more. Source: BBC

Tevatron main injector
New clue to antimatter mystery
(May 19, 2010)


A US-based physics experiment has found a clue as to why the world around us is composed of normal matter and not its shadowy opposite: antimatter. Researchers on the DZero experiment at Fermilab's Tevatron particle accelerator in Illinois, observing collisions of protons and anti-protons, found that these collisions produced pairs of matter particles slightly more often than they yielded antimatter particles.

Read more. Source: BBC

Rassvet being unloaded from the payload bay of shuttle Atlantis
Russian module added to station
(May 19, 2010)


Astronauts have succeeded in attaching a new Russian module to the International Space Station. The 7m-long unit known as Rassvet was put in place in a delicate maneuver by the platform's robotic arm. The module, brought up by the Atlantis shuttle, is a docking and storage facility.

Read more. Source: BBC

Enceladus and Titan
Cassini double play: Enceladus and Titan
(May 18, 2010)


About a month and a half after its last double flyby, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be turning another double play this week, visiting the geyser moon Enceladus and the hazy moon Titan. The alignment of the moons means that Cassini can catch glimpses of these two contrasting worlds within less than 48 hours, with no maneuver in between.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

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