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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: March 2011
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When is an asteroid not an asteroid? Mar 31, 2011
First image ever obtained from Mercury orbit Mar 30, 2011
Decommissioning work starts for shuttle Discovery Mar 29, 2011
Beautiful theory collides with smashing particle data Mar 28, 2011
Tycho's supernova remnant shows its stripes Mar 26, 2011
NASA's venerable comet hunter wraps up mission Mar 25, 2011
Smelly origins to life? New analysis yields clues Mar 23, 2011
Quantum computing device hints at powerful future Mar 22, 2011
Cassini sees seasonal rains transform Titan's surface Mar 20, 2011
Stars gather in 'downtown' Milky Way Mar 19, 2011
MESSENGER probe enters Mercury orbit Mar 18, 2011
Giant 'quasi-stars' spawned early black holes Mar 17, 2011
New study gives dark energy a boost Mar 17, 2011
Probe set to become Mercury's first artificial satellite Mar 14, 2011
Speed demon creates a shock Mar 11, 2011
Some of Mars' missing carbon dioxide may be buried Mar 10, 2011
Discovery shuttle makes historic final landing Mar 9, 2011
Voyager: Still dancing 17 billion km from Earth Mar 9, 2011
Alien-life claims spark monster mud-slinging Mar 9, 2011
Difficult decisions ahead on Mars Mar 9, 2011
Cassini finds Enceladus is a powerhouse Mar 8, 2011
Largest galaxies grow up gradually like snowflakes Mar 7, 2011
Unusual elongated Martian crater tells tale of a train of impacts Mar 5, 2011
NASA Glory mission ends in failure Mar 4, 2011
Space station gets new store room Mar 3, 2011
Meteorites 'could have carried nitrogen to Earth' Mar 1, 2011


An image of Vesta captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2007
When is an asteroid not an asteroid?
(Mar 31, 2011)


Vesta – officially the second largest known asteroid in the solar system following the upgrading of Ceres to "dwarf planet" status – has an identity crisis. "I don't think Vesta should be called an asteroid," said Tom McCord, a Dawn mission co-investigator based at the Bear Fight Institute, Winthrop, Wash. "Not only is Vesta so much larger, but it's an evolved object, unlike most things we call asteroids."

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

First ever image of Mercury from orbit. The bright rayed crater is called Debussy. Credit: NASA
First image ever obtained from Mercury orbit
(Mar 30, 2011)


Early yesterday morning, at 5:20 am EDT, NASA's MESSENGER captured this historic image of Mercury. This image is the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit about the Solar System's innermost planet. The dominant rayed crater in the upper portion of the image is Debussy.

Read more. Source: NASA/MESSENGER

Discovery's forward reaction control system (FRCS) is lowered onto a trailer after being removed from the shuttle. Credit: NASA
Decommissioning work starts for shuttle Discovery
(Mar 29, 2011)


And so it begins. Technicians at the Kennedy Space Center have begun taking apart the shuttle Discovery, the ship now a laboratory specimen for engineering forensics before her future date with a museum. Inside orbiter hangar No. 2 last week, the shuttle's nose piece containing the control thrusters used to maneuver the spacecraft was removed and taken to the hypergolic maintenance facility for decommissioning.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now

ATLAS detector
Beautiful theory collides with smashing particle data
(Mar 28, 2011)


There is growing anxiety that supersymmetry theory, however elegant it might be, is wrong. Data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have shown no sign of the "super particles" that the theory predicts. "We're painting supersymmetry into a corner," says Chris Lester, a particle physicist at the University of Cambridge, who works with the LHC's ATLAS detector.

Read more. Source: Nature

Tycho supernova remnant. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/K.Eriksen et al.; Optical: DSS)
Tycho's supernova remnant shows its stripes
(Mar 26, 2011)


The discovery of a pattern of X-ray “stripes” in the remains of an exploded star may provide the first direct evidence that a cosmic event can accelerate particles to energies a hundred times higher than achieved by the most powerful particle accelerator on Earth. This result comes from a very long observation of the Tycho supernova remnant with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Read more. Source: NASA/Chandra

Stardust
NASA's venerable comet hunter wraps up mission
(Mar 25, 2011)


At 33 minutes after 4 p.m. PDT yesterday, NASA's Stardust spacecraft finished its last transmission to Earth. The transmission came on the heels of the venerable spacecraft's final rocket burn, which was designed to provide insight into how much fuel remained aboard after its encounter with comet Tempel 1 in February.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Samples of materials produced in the Miller_Urey experiment
Smelly origins to life? New analysis yields clues
(Mar 23, 2011)


A new NASA-funded study demonstrates how a chemical that smells like rotten eggs – hydrogen sulfide – may have played a role in the formation of life on Earth. The study authors re-examined old test tubes from classic experiments performed in the 1950s by Stanley Miller, who was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. See Miller-Urey experiment.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Prototype quantum computer chip
Quantum computing device hints at powerful future
(Mar 22, 2011)


One of the most complex efforts toward a quantum computer has been shown off at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas in the US. It uses the strange "quantum states" of matter to perform calculations in a way that, if scaled up, could vastly outperform conventional computers. The 6cm-by-6cm chip holds nine quantum devices, among them four "quantum bits" that do the calculations.

Read more. Source: BBC

Equatorial clouds on Titan imaged by Cassini in 2011
Cassini sees seasonal rains transform Titan's surface
(Mar 20, 2011)


As spring continues to unfold at Saturn, April showers on the planet's largest moon, Titan, have brought methane rain to its equatorial deserts, as revealed in images captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. This is the first time scientists have obtained current evidence of rain soaking Titan's surface at low latitudes.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Spitzer Space Telescope infrared image of the galactic center
Stars gather in 'downtown' Milky Way
(Mar 19, 2011)


The region around the center of our Milky Way galaxy glows colorfully in this new version of an image taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The data were previously released as part of a long, 120-degree view of the plane our galaxy. Now, data from the very center of that picture are being presented at a different contrast to better highlight this jam-packed region.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

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