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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: February 2011
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Jupiter Europa Orbiter
Proposed mission to Jupiter system achieves milestone
(Feb 8, 2011)


With input from scientists around the world, American and European scientists working on the potential next new mission to the Jupiter system have articulated their joint vision for the Europa Jupiter System Mission. The mission is a proposed partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency. The scientists on the joint NASA-ESA definition team agreed that the overarching science theme for the mission will be "the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants."

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

An image of the far side of the Sun based on Stereo data from Wednesday. The black line indicates a data gap that will be closed in the coming days
STEREO satellites move either side of Sun
(Feb 7, 2011)


Two US spacecraft have moved either side of the Sun to establish observing positions that should return remarkable new information about our star. Launched in 2006, the STEREO satellites have gradually been drifting apart – one in front of the Earth in its orbit, the other lagging behind. On Sunday, NASA said the spacecraft had arrived at points that put the Sun directly between them.

Read more. Source: BBC

shifting sand dunes on Mars
Mars sand dunes shift and change annually, images show
(Feb 6, 2011)


Vast sand dunes near the northern pole of Mars are not frozen relics of a distant past, but shift and change every Martian year, data have shown. A hi-tech camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted UK-sized dune fields that are among the most dynamic on the Red Planet. Causes, says a report in Science, include carbon dioxide gas that freezes solid onto the dunes each winter.

Read more. Source: BBC

Cassiopeia
Neutron star seen forming exotic new state of matter
(Feb 4, 2011)


The dense core of a nearby neutron star is undergoing a rapid chill, providing the first direct evidence that such stars can become superfluid – a state of matter that cannot be created in laboratories on Earth. The star in question lies at the heart of the dusty supernova remnant Cassiopeia A.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

artist's concept of a family of exoplanets
Exoplanet hunt turns up 54 potentially habitable worlds
(Feb 4, 2011)


Astronomers have identified some 54 new planets where conditions may be suitable for life. Five of the candidates are Earth-sized. The announcement from the Kepler space telescope team brings the total number of exoplanet candidates they have identified to more than 1,200.

Read more. Source: BBC

transiting planet
Six exoplanets in close orbit around far-flung star
(Feb 2, 2011)


A solar system including six planets around a star 2,000 light-years away has been spotted by astronomers. The planets range between two and four-and-a-half times the radius of Earth, and between two and 13 times its mass. Five of the planets orbit the star closer than Mercury orbits our Sun.

Read more. Source: BBC

spacetime foam
How to cook up 'foamy' space-time in the lab
(Feb 1, 2011)


Can the way the universe behaves at the tiniest scales be recreated in the laboratory? Physicist Igor Smolyaninov of the University of Maryland in College Park has a recipe for cooking up a lab-scale version of a "quantum foam", the choppy substance that constitutes spacetime in some theories of quantum gravity.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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