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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: October 2011
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Venus ozone
Venus springs ozone layer surprise
(Oct 8, 2011)

Scientists have discovered that Venus has an ozone layer. The thin layer, which is hundred of times less dense than the Earth's, was discovered by the European Space Agency's Venus Express craft, researchers report in the journal Icarus. Until now, ozone layers have only been detected in the atmospheres of Earth and Mars.

Read more. BBC

Uranus. Image credit: Image: NASA and Erich Karkoschka?, University of Arizona
Did two giant impacts knock Uranus on its side?
(Oct 8, 2011)

Knock, knock. That's not the start of a joke but the hard-luck history of Uranus. New research suggests that the giant planet may have suffered two massive impacts early in its history, which would account for its extreme, mysterious axial tilt.

Read more. Scientific American

Crab Nebula
Crab Pulsar's high-energy beam surprises astronomers
(Oct 7, 2011)

Astronomers have spotted gamma ray emissions coming from the Crab Pulsar at far higher energies than expected. This challenges notions of how these powerful electromagnetic rays – like light, but far more energetic – are formed, researchers suggest in Science. They found emissions at more than 100 gigaelectronvolts – 100 billion times more energetic than visible light.

Read more. BBC

HR 8799
Elusive planets found in decade-old Hubble data
(Oct 7, 2011)

In a painstaking reanalysis of images taken in 1998 by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have found visual evidence for two exoplanets that went undetected back then. Finding these hidden gems in the Hubble archive gives astronomers an invaluable time machine for comparing much earlier planet orbital motion data to more recent observations. It also demonstrates a novel approach for planet hunting in archival Hubble data.

Read more. NASA/JPL

Part of our own Milky Way Galaxy
Where do alien civilizations hang out?
(Oct 6, 2011)

NASA's Kepler space telescope is finding lots and lots of extrasolar planets. But how many might support intelligent life? And, is there a "sweet spot" in the Galaxy where SETI astronomers should aim their telescopes?

Read more. Source: Discovery News

Comet Hartley
Comet's water 'like that of Earth's oceans'
(Oct 6, 2011)

Comet Hartley 2 contains water more like that found on Earth than prior comets seem to have, researchers say. A study using the Herschel Space Eelescope aimed to measure the quantity of deuterium, a rare type of hydrogen, present in the comet's water. The comet had just half the amount of deuterium seen in comets. The result hints at the idea that much of the Earth's water could have initially came from cometary impacts.

Read more. Source: BBC

A towering mound near Vesta's south pole rivals the largest mountains in the solar system.  Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Asteroid Vesta has planet-like features
(Oct 5, 2011)

Asteroids are often considered debris, the scraps and odd lumps that went unused in the forming of the planets. But when it comes to Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in our solar system, Chris Russell hardly considers the rock a mere castoff. "I've started calling it the smallest terrestrial planet," said Russell, the principal investigator for NASA's Dawn mission, which sent a spacecraft into orbit at Vesta in July.

Read more. Source: Scientific American

Neutrino detector
Superluminal neutrinos would wimp out en route
(Oct 5, 2011)

Neutrinos that go beyond light speed? Not so fast, say two theoretical physicists. In a paper posted online, Andrew Cohen and Sheldon Glashow of Boston University calculate that any neutrinos traveling faster than light would radiate energy away, leaving a wake of slower particles analogous to a sonic boom. Their findings cast doubt on the veracity of measurements recently announced at CERN that clocked neutrinos going a sliver faster than light.

Read more. Source: Scientific American

A 100-meter thick layer of snow has muted many of the surface features in this area of Enceladus.NASA/JPL / Paul Schenk
Enceladus has never-ending winter – and maybe an ocean
(Oct 4, 2011)

Jets of water vapor and ice shooting from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus have been active for up to 100 million years, boosting the odds that the moon harbors a liquid ocean beneath its icy surface, a study suggests. If the existence of such an ocean is confirmed, Enceladus will become one of the most promising places in the Solar System in which to search for signs of extraterrestrial life.

Read more. Source: Nature

ALMA telescope begins study of cosmic dawn
(Oct 3, 2011)

One of the 21st Century's grand scientific undertakings has begun its quest to view the "Cosmic Dawn". The Atacama large milllimeter/ submillimeter array (ALMA) in Chile is the largest, most complex telescope ever built. Alma's purpose is to study processes occurring a few hundred million years after the formation of the Universe when the first stars began to shine.

Read more. Source: BBC

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