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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: March 2011
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MESSENGER in orbit
MESSENGER probe enters Mercury orbit
(Mar 18, 2011)


NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has successfully entered into orbit around the planet Mercury – the first probe to do so. The robotic explorer initiated a 14-minute burn on its main thruster at 0045 GMT on Friday. This slowed the spacecraft sufficiently to be captured by the innermost planet's gravity.

Read more. Source: NASA/MESSENGER

supermassive black hole
Giant 'quasi-stars' spawned early black holes
(Mar 17, 2011)


Monstrous black holes in the early universe could have formed deep within giant star-like objects. The most detailed models yet of this scenario could help explain how black holes with a mass of a billion or more suns were created in the first billion years of the universe.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

NGC 5584
New study gives dark energy a boost
(Mar 17, 2011)


New evidence bolsters the case that a bizarre form of energy is uniformly accelerating the expansion of the universe, refuting one of the alternative models developed by researchers who refuse to accept the idea. The new study, which measures the present-day expansion of the universe to unprecedented accuracy, also suggests that the cosmos may be slightly older than previously calculated.

Read more. Source: Science News

Mercury seen by MESSENGER during its thrird flyby
Probe set to become Mercury's first artificial satellite
(Mar 14, 2011)


On Friday, NASA's Messenger spacecraft is set to become the first probe to go into orbit around Mercury. The planned year-long mission could reveal why the sun-baked planet is the densest in the solar system and whether it harbors any ice in darkened craters at its poles.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Alpha Cam bow shock
Speed demon creates a shock
(Mar 11, 2011)


NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured this image of the runaway star Alpha Camelopardalis. Alpha Cam, a supergiant, is the bright star in the center of this image, surrounded on one side by an arc-shaped cloud of dust and gas – a bow shock – which is colored red in this infrared view.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Carbonates-containing strata on Mars
Some of Mars' missing carbon dioxide may be buried
(Mar 10, 2011)


Rocks on Mars dug from far underground by crater-blasting impacts are providing glimpses of one possible way Mars' atmosphere has become much less dense than it used to be. At several places where cratering has exposed material from depths of about 5 km (3 miles) or more beneath the surface, observations by a mineral-mapping instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate carbonate minerals.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Discovery departing the ISS on its final Voyage
Discovery shuttle makes historic final landing
(Mar 9, 2011)


The oldest of America's space shuttles, Discovery, has brought its remarkable 27-year career to an end. The orbiter landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after a 12-day – and final – mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Discovery is destined now to go to a museum. NASA's two other reusable spaceplanes will follow it into retirement in the coming months.

Read more. Source: BBC

Voyager 1
Voyager: Still dancing 17 billion km from Earth
(Mar 9, 2011)


The extraordinary Voyager 1 spacecraft is demonstrating its nimbleness more than 30 years after leaving Earth. At the astonishing distance of 17.4 billion km, the Nasa probe is the most far-flung object made by humans. But it seems age and remoteness are no barriers to this veteran explorer. Voyager is executing a series of roll manoeuvres to get one of its instruments into the optimum position to measure particles sweeping away from the Sun.

Read more. Source: BBC

claimed evidence for life in the Orgueil meteorite
Alien-life claims spark monster mud-slinging
(Mar 9, 2011)


First seen on 14 May 1864, in the shape of an enormous fireball in the sky over southern France, the Orgueil meteorite is making headlines again – though this time its appearance has mostly been ill-received. Last week, NASA scientist Richard Hoover at the Marshall Space Flight Center near Huntsville, Alabama, published a paper in the Journal of Cosmology claiming that fragments collected from the Orgueil meteorite and two similar meteorites contain fossilized bacteria.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

ExoMars
Difficult decisions ahead on Mars
(Mar 9, 2011)


The joint Mars exploration envisioned by the US and Europe is set for an overhaul, following an announcement by the Americans that their part of the budget is critically short of funds. NASA and ESA had agreed to send two rovers to the Red Planet in 2018. In Europe's case, this vehicle is already designed and about to be built.

Read more. Source: BBC

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