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Artwork of Falcon HTV-2 in flight
Launch of fastest aircraft ever built imminent
(Aug 11, 2011)

The US Defense Advance Research Projects Agency is scheduled to launch its Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) today using a Minotaur IV rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The unmanned vehicle will reach a maximum speed of 13,000mph (Mach 20).

Read more. Source: The Guardian

Solar flare
Solar flares: What does it take to be X-class?
(Aug 10, 2011)

Solar flares are giant explosions on the sun that send energy, light and high speed particles into space. These flares are often associated with solar magnetic storms known as coronal mass ejections. The number of solar flares increases approximately every 11 years, and the Sun is currently moving towards another solar maximum, likely in 2013. That means more flares will be coming, some small and some big enough to send their radiation all the way to Earth.

Read more. Source: NASA

Lunar Orbiter 2 crash-site
NASA finds lost spacecraft on dark side of the Moon
(Aug 9, 2011)

NASA scientists have found the crash site, pictured here, of a spacecraft set into orbit during the early 60s. They believe it is the missing Lunar Orbiter 2 which disappeared back in 1967 during a passage over the far side of the moon, when the craft went out of telescope and radio range.

Read more. Source:

Artist's impression of WASP 18
Distant star moved by tides
(Aug 9, 2011)

Astronomers believe they have spotted a distant star's surface rising and falling in response to the gravity of an orbiting planet, just as the Moon tugs Earth's seas up and down. WASP 18 is ten times as massive as Jupiter, and lies so close to its star that it orbits it in less than a day.

Read more. Source: Nature

Three of Titan's major surface features-dunes, craters and the enigmatic Xanadu-appear in this radar image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Putting it all together on Titan
(Aug 9, 2011)

Three of Titan's major surface features – dunes, craters and the enigmatic Xanadu – appear in this radar image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The hazy, bright area at the left that extends to the lower center of the image marks the northwest edge of Xanadu, a continent-sized feature centered near the moon's equator.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Meteorites contain a large variety of nucleobases, an essential building block of DNA. Artist concept credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith
DNA building blocks can be made in space
(Aug 9, 2011)

NASA-funded researchers have evidence that some building blocks of DNA, the molecule that carries the genetic instructions for life, found in meteorites were likely created in space. The research gives support to the theory that a "kit" of ready-made parts created in space and delivered to Earth by meteorite and comet impacts assisted the origin of life.

Read more. Source: NASA

fallen astronaut memorial
What aliens could learn from the stuff we’ve left in space
(Aug 8, 2011)

If you were to visit the Moon today, in the neighborhood of the Apennine mountain range, you would find a small figurine, about the same size and shape as a Lego minifigure, lying facedown in the lunar dust. Unauthorized by NASA, this “Fallen Astronaut” sculpture was placed there exactly 40 years ago this past week by astronauts David Scott and James Irwin of Apollo 15, and sits alongside a tiny plaque listing the names of 14 astronauts and cosmonauts who had died during their time in their respective space programs.

Read more. Source:

Hickson Compact Group 7
Crowded, but suspiciously quiet?
(Aug 8, 2011)

The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged part of the Hickson Compact Group 7 (HCG 7), composed of one lenticular and three spiral galaxies close together. In this image, one of the spirals dominates the foreground, with many more distant galaxies peppering the background. Observing tightly-knit galaxy groups like HCG 7 is important because they evolve in a different way from their more spaced-out counterparts in less crowded regions of the Universe.

Read more. Source: ESA/Hubble

The antiprotons lie sandwiched between the inner and outer Van Allen belts (in red) around the Earth
Antimatter belt found around Earth
(Aug 7, 2011)

A thin band of antimatter particles called antiprotons enveloping the Earth has been spotted for the first time. The find, described in Astrophysical Journal Letters, confirms theoretical work that predicted the Earth's magnetic field could trap antimatter. The team says a small number of antiprotons lie between the Van Allen belts of trapped "normal" matter.

Read more. Source: BBC

solar flare
Solar storms set to hit Earth
(Aug 7, 2011)

Three large explosions from the Sun over the past few days have prompted U.S. government scientists to caution users of satellite, telecommunications and electric equipment to prepare for possible disruptions over the next few days. "The magnetic storm that is soon to develop probably will be in the moderate to strong level," said Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Read more. Source: Scientific American/Reuters

cutaway view of the CTS-100 spacecraft
Boeing pilots to fly on first CTS-100 mission
(Aug 5, 2011)

Boeing says two of its own employees will crew the first manned mission of its new astronaut capsule. The US company has confirmed it will use the Atlas 5 rocket to test its CST-100 ship on three flights in 2015. An unmanned capsule will be used on the first and second launches. On the third, Boeing test pilots will take the vessel to the space station.

Read more. Source: BBC

Juno launch
Juno launch successful
(Aug 5, 2011)

NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:25 a.m. PDT (12:25 p.m. EDT) Friday to begin a five-year journey to Jupiter. It is now on its way to the giant planet having separated from its Centauer upper stage.

Read more. Source: NASA

Gagarin microsatellite
Gagarin microsatellite launched from ISS on second try
(Aug 5, 2011)

Russian cosmonauts carried out a fraught six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk on Thursday, releasing a student satellite commemorating Yuri Gagarin's first manned mission to space. The Kedr satellite will send greetings to radio enthusiasts in 15 languages, as well as photos and pressure data. Its release was delayed when cosmonauts saw it was missing one of two antennas.

Read more. Source: BBC

suspected water flows in Newton crater
NASA spacecraft data suggest water flowing on Mars
(Aug 4, 2011)

Observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars. Dark, finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and return during the next spring. Repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars' southern hemisphere.

Read more. Source: NASA/MRO

Juno solar panels
Juno Jupiter probe will be solar-powered
(Aug 4, 2011)

NASA's $1.1bn Juno mission will venture where no solar-powered spacecraft has dared go before. The probe, due to launch from Cape Canaveral on Friday, will cruise beyond Mars to put itself in orbit around the gas giant Jupiter in 2016. At this distance, where the intensity of sunlight is only 1/25th of that at Earth, one would normally resort to a plutonium battery. But Juno will instead travel with three wings coated with 18,000 solar cells.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist's impression of a hypothetical collision between the moon and a companion moon. Photograph: Martin Jutzi/Erik Asphaug/Nature
'Multiverse' theory suggested by microwave background
(Aug 3, 2011)

The idea that other universes – as well as our own – lie within "bubbles" of space and time has received a boost. Studies of the low-temperature glow left from the Big Bang suggest that several of these "bubble universes" may have left marks on our own. This multiverse idea is popular in modern physics, but experimental tests have been hard to come by.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist's impression of a hypothetical collision between the moon and a companion moon. Photograph: Martin Jutzi/Erik Asphaug/Nature
Earth may have had a second moon
(Aug 3, 2011)

The remnants of a second moon that orbited around the Earth billions of years ago may be splattered across the far side of our moon, scientists claim. The two moons are believed to have been created at the same time and followed a similar path to the moon we're familiar with today, but after tens of millions of years of peaceful co-existence, the two moons appear to have crunched together in a gentle collision that left the smaller moon, just a third of the size, spread across the larger like a cosmic pancake.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

Artwork of Juno in orbit around Jupiter
Juno to show Jupiter's magnetic field in high-def
(Aug 2, 2011)

When it comes to magnetic fields, Jupiter is the ultimate muscle car. It's endowed with the biggest, brawniest magnetic field of any planet in the solar system, powered by a monster engine under the hood. Figuring out how this mighty engine, or dynamo, works is one goal of NASA's Juno mission, which is scheduled to begin its five-year, 400-million-mile (643,737,600-km) voyage to Jupiter this month.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Herschel found oxygen molecules in a dense patch of gas and dust adjacent to star-forming regions in the Orion nebula. Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech
Oxygen molecules found in space for the first time
(Aug 1, 2011)

The Herschel Space Observatory's large telescope and state-of-the-art infrared detectors have provided the first confirmed finding of oxygen molecules in space. The molecules were discovered in the Orion star-forming complex. Individual atoms of oxygen are common in space, particularly around massive stars. But molecular oxygen, which makes up about 20% of the air we breathe, has eluded astronomers until now.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Vesta, full-frame image captured by Dawn on July 24, 2011
Dawn spacecraft begins science orbits of Vesta
(Aug 1, 2011)

NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the first ever to orbit an object in the main asteroid belt, is spiraling towards its first of four intensive science orbits. That initial orbit of the rocky world Vesta begins Aug. 11, at an altitude of nearly 1,700 miles (2,700 km) and will provide in-depth analysis of the asteroid.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

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