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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: October 2011
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Doppler-shifted highway
Seeing the world through Einstein's eyes
(Oct 19, 2011)

If the speed of light could be reduced from over a billion kilometers per hour to just a few meters per second, the world would look very different. The Australian National University relativistic visualization project has used supercomputers to simulate what we might see in a world where the effects of Einstein's theory of special relativity are everyday experiences.

Read more. ANU

Mock-up of the European Extremely Large Telescope main mirror
Full-size mock-up of world's largest telescope mirror built
(Oct 18, 2011)

Visitors to the European Southern Observatory's open day last Saturday, in Garching bei München, Germany, helped build a full-size mock-up mirror of the largest planned telescope in the world – the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Construction of the E-ELT, the main mirror of which will be nearly 40 meters across, is due to start next year.

Read more. ESO

A selection of meteorites
Meteor strike: it's really not the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters
(Oct 16, 2011)

What are the odds of being hit by a meteorite? It happened recently to a Parisian family – amusingly called the Comettes – when a rock from the dawn of the solar system embedded itself in their roof.

Read more. The Guardian

Images from Dawn reveal grooves parallel to Vesta's equator. They cover 240 degrees of longitude
Vesta rocked by mighty impacts
(Oct 14, 2011)

The scale of the pummeling asteroid Vesta has taken through its history is starting to become clear. Analysis of data returned by the orbiting Dawn spacecraft shows this giant rock took a mighty double beating in its southern polar region. One impact had long been recognised from images of the asteroid acquired by the Hubble telescope.

Read more. BBC

Falling German satellite greater threat than UARS
(Oct 13, 2011)

Less than a month after NASA's falling UARS satellite grabbed the headlines, the German space agency says one of its abandoned satellites will dive back to Earth later this month, but no one knows where it will land. The ROSAT X-ray astronomy observatory is smaller and less massive than UARS, which fell back to Earth on Sept. 24. But officials predict it will spread three times more debris and pose a greater threat to people than UARS.

Read more. Spaceflight Now

Artist's concept of Eris and its moon
Pluto might be the largest dwarf planet, after all
(Oct 13, 2011)

Pluto is certainly the most famous (and beloved) object among the group that astronomers call dwarf planets, but for years it's appeared to rank a distant second in terms of size. Eris, a dwarf planet discovered in 2005, has been estimated to be as much as 700 kilometers larger than Pluto in diameter. But a new look at Eris has cut the dwarf planet down to size.

Read more. Scientific American

A galaxy seen when the Universe was only 840 million years old
Very Large Telescope details cosmic timeline
(Oct 12, 2011)

Astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope in Chile to study a fundamental change in the cosmos more than 13 billion years ago. The scientists studied a series of galaxies through time to determine the pace at which the neutral hydrogen that pervaded the Universe back then was turned into a diffuse gas of highly charged particles.

Read more. BBC

View from the International Space Station in May 2011
NASA-backed space taxi to fly in test next summer
(Oct 12, 2011)

A seven-seat space taxi backed by NASA to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station will make a high-altitude test flight next summer, officials said on Tuesday. Sierra Nevada Corp's Dream Chaser space plane, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, is one of four space taxis being developed by private industry with backing from the US government.

Read more. Reuters

Giant mountain near Vesta's south pole
New view of giant mountain on Vesta
(Oct 11, 2011)

A new image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows a mountain three times as high as Mt. Everest, amidst the topography in the south polar region of the giant asteroid Vesta. The peak of Vesta's south pole mountain, seen in the center of the image, rises about 13 miles (22 km) above the average height of the surrounding terrain. Another impressive structure is a large scarp, a cliff with a steep slope, on the right side of this image.

Read more. NASA/JPL

Large Hadron Collider tunnel
Still no Higgs and scientists are starting to worry
(Oct 10, 2011)

Researchers at CERN's Large Hadron Collider are running out of places to look for the elusive Higgs boson. Evidence for the particle, which is the one piece of the Standard Model still missing, may be buried in the vast amount of data collected by the collider but hopes are strting to fade. And if the Higgs doesn't exist, where does physics go from there?

Read more. The Guardian

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