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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: December 2011
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Long March 2C launch
China's launch rate set to surpass United States
(Dec 5, 2011)

For the first time since joining the spacefaring community in 1970, China is poised to eclipse the number of U.S. space launches in a single year. Launching clandestine military payloads, navigation and communications satellites, research platforms and pathfinders for its manned space program, Chinese Long March rockets have blasted off 17 times this year. One of the missions failed to reach orbit in August.

Read more. Spaceflight Now

MSL cruise phase
Mars Science Lab right on course
(Dec 4, 2011)

The launch of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory was so precise that an early course correction maneuver was postponed for another month or more. That first of six planned adjustments during the 254-day journey from Earth to Mars had been scheduled for 15 days after the mission's Nov. 26 launch. Now, the correction maneuver won't be performed until later in December or possibly January. As of 9 a.m. PST (noon EST) on Friday, Dec. 2, the spacecraft had traveled 10.8 million miles (17.3 million km) of its 352-million-mile flight to Mars.

Read more. NASA/JPL

ATLAS detector
Has a Higgs signal been found?
(Dec 3, 2011)

Rumors are circulating that a signal for the Higgs boson has been seen at an energy of 125 GeV with 2–3 sigma significance. This would be a great result if confirmed because at this mass the standard model has problems with vacuum stability that are likely to require supersymmetry or something similar to stabilize.

Read more. viXra log

Phobos-Grunt imaged from the ground
Europe ends calls to stranded Mars probe
(Dec 3, 2011)

It is looking increasingly grim for Russia's Mars mission Phobos-Grunt, which has been stuck circling the Earth since its launch in early November. Apart from some brief radio contact with the wayward probe just over a week ago, there has been total silence from the spacecraft. The European Space Agency announced on Friday that it was now ceasing any further attempts to get a signal.

Read more. BBC

location of Kepler 21b
Kepler spots scorching hot super-Earth
(Dec 3, 2011)

Kepler now has another planet to add to its growing list. A research team led by Steve Howell, NASA Ames Research Center, has shown that one of the brightest stars in the Kepler star field has a planet with a radius only 1.6 that of the Earth and a mass no greater that 10 Earth masses, circling its parent star with a 2.8-day period.

Read more. NASA/Kepler

Voyagers detect birth pains of stars
(Dec 2, 2011)

Far beyond the orbit of Pluto, the two aging Voyager spacecraft have detected ultraviolet light that confirms that a type of radiation known as Lyman-alpha emissions come from parts of the Milky Way where stars are born. It isn't a surprising find, but it's important because it helps confirm an old hypothesis about star formation.

Read more. Nature

CMS detector
Excitement as Higgs boson seminar set to announce latest LHC findings
(Dec 1, 2011)

The runup to Christmas looks exciting for the Large Hadron Collider. Staff at the laboratory have arranged a special seminar on Tuesday 13 December at which the latest results in the search for the Higgs boson will be made public. The presentation is due to happen directly after the lab's scientific policy committee has convened one of its regular meetings behind closed doors.

Read more. The Guardian

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