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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: January 2011
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Deep Impact's impactor hit Comet Tempel 1, spewing debris, but the mission was not able to see the resulting crater. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD
Probe to survey comet dented by Deep Impact mission
(Jan 20, 2011)

NASA's Deep Impact mission pounded a comet in 2005, but failed to see the resulting crater. Now, scientists will get a second chance to glimpse the damage when a second spacecraft flies by the comet on 15 February. At 0437 GMT on 15 February (2037 PST on 14 February), Stardust will complete its long journey to Tempel 1, flying within 200 kilometers of the comet's nucleus.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

NASA/JPL's free iPhone app features spectacular images of Earth, the solar system and the universe beyond. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Half a million take a gander at space
(Jan 20, 2011)

The first-ever NASA/JPL iPhone application, Space Images, has reached 500,000 downloads, just as JPL prepares to release its newest version of the free app. Space Images features breathtaking views of Earth, the solar system and the universe beyond. Soon after its release in January 2010, Space Images was selected as a "Staff Favorite" in iTunes and quickly became a top app in the Education category.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Artist's concept of WASP-33b
Hottest planet is hotter than some stars
(Jan 19, 2011)

Astronomers have found the hottest planet yet, a gas giant with a temperature of nearly 3200°C, which is hotter than some stars. A collaboration called the Super Wide Angle Search for Planets (SuperWASP) announced hints of the planet's existence in 2006. The group had observed periodic dimmings of the parent star possibly caused by a planet about 1.4 times the size of Jupiter passing in front of the star once per orbit.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Cassini rocks Rhea rendezvous
(Jan 17, 2011)

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has successfully completed its closest flyby of Saturn's moon Rhea, returning raw images of the icy moon's surface. Pictures of the Rhea surface taken around the time of closest approach at 4:53 a.m. UTC on Jan. 11, 2011, which was 10:53 p.m. PST, Jan. 10, show shadowy craters at a low sun angle.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Vega launcher
2011 'year of rockets' for Europe
(Jan 15, 2011)

Twenty-eleven will be the "year of launchers", says European Space Agency director-general Jean-Jacques Dordain. Europe expects to have three different rockets operating from its French Guiana spaceport in the coming months. The workhorse Ariane 5 will be joined by the Russian Soyuz vehicle and a new small launcher called Vega.

Read more. Source: BBC

Solar flare
Solar flares on dwarf stars could threaten alien life
(Jan 14, 2011)

Red dwarf stars have surprisingly frequent flare-ups, scientists say, and these solar flares' effects could be deadly to life on nearby planets. The largest flares unleash streams of particles that could play havoc with planets' atmospheres – or inhabitants. A study of 200,000 red dwarfs – the most common type of star in our galaxy – turned up many flares of all sizes.

Read more. Source: BBC

The hydrogen gas in the farthest reaches of spiral galaxies may hold hints of dark-matter galaxies
Milky Way's dark-matter satellite in stargazers' sights
(Jan 14, 2011)

Scientists have proposed a means to track down the dark dwarf galaxies that should be orbiting the Milky Way, saying they have found evidence of one. Spiral galaxies like ours have these satellites, but some are made of dark matter that is impossible to see. The idea is to look for tracks they leave in hydrogen gas at the galaxy's edge, like the wake behind a boat.

Read more. Source: BBC

Cosmos-Aztek 3
Galaxy clusters' ancient light shows young cosmic city
(Jan 14, 2011)

Astronomers have revealed the most distant cluster of galaxies ever observed, caught at a never-before-seen stage of development. Cosmos-Aztec 3 has been described as a "metropolis in the making", because such clusters are believed to grow like cities, absorbing outlying villages. It lies 12.6 billion light years away, and appears to be just tens or hundreds of millions of years old.

Read more. Source: BBC

Cepheid variable
Cosmology standard candle not so standard after all
(Jan 13, 2011)

Astronomers have turned up the first direct proof that "standard candles" used to illuminate the size of the universe, called Cepheid variables, shrink in mass, making them not quite as standard as once thought. The findings, made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, will help astronomers make even more precise measurements of the size, age and expansion rate of our universe.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

EADS Astrium spaceplane concept
Space tourism jet work continues
(Jan 13, 2011)

The European project to develop a space jet for fare-paying passengers is still very much alive, says EADS Astrium. The plane, which would make short hops above the atmosphere, was announced in 2007 and then almost immediately put on hold because of the global downturn. But Astrium, Europe's largest space company, says internal development work continues and it will spend a further 10m euros on the concept in 2011.

Read more. Source: BBC

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