SPACE & SCIENCE
NEWS: August 2012
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A star caught in the act of swallowing
(Aug 22, 2012)
Based on observations with the Hobby-Eberly Telescope in Texas,
astronomers have published evidence that a red giant called BD+48
740 has recently gulped down one of its planets. The tell-tale
signs are an over-abundance of lithium in the star's atmosphere,
and another planet which moves in an abnormally elliptical orbit.
And after Curiosity will come
(Aug 21, 2012)
Mars scientists in the US will be delighted that NASA has selected
another lander mission to reach the Red Planet in 2016. InSight
will carry out a detailed investigation of the planet's interior
using a set of instruments placed on and below the surface. The
new static lander borrows heavily on the design of the successful
When is a pipe not a pipe?
(Aug 21, 2012)
The answer: when it's a nebula. The European Southern Observatory's
2.2-meter telescope has just captured the best ever image of this
amazing complex of dark, dusty clouds in Ophiuchus lying at a
distance of 600+ light-years.
Curiosity takes aim at a rock
(Aug 18, 2012)
This weekend, the Curiosity rover's rock-zapping infrared laser
will be tested briefly for the first time by aiming it at a 7cm-wide
stone, dubbed N165, lying alongside the spacecraft. The object
of the exercise isn't to do any serious science but just to make
sure the laser works as intended.
Is life possible around a white
(Aug 17, 2012)
Most stars, including the Sun, will end up as hot, burned-out
stellar corpses called white dwarfs. Such relics don't seem promising
from an astrobiological perspective. But a new study suggests
they could well support thriving habitable zones, bathing planets
with just the right amount and wavelengths of light to support
Record-breaking cluster may help
solve an old problem in astrophysics
(Aug 16, 2012)
The newly-discovered Phoenix Cluster, around 6 b illion light-years
away, has shattered a number of records for galaxy clusters, including
the rate of star formation in its central galaxy. The frenetic
starburst activity in the Phoenix is shedding light on a long-standing
puzzle known as the cooling flow problem.
Hypersonic plane shoots for Mach
(Aug 15, 2012)
The X-51 WaveRider, a joint project of NASA and the Pentagon,
was launched today in an attempt to break the Mach 6 barrier.
A B-52 bomber carried the unmanned plane from Edwards Air Force
Base in California to a height of 50,000 feet (15,250m). Unfortunately,
15 seconds after the X-51A's rocket booster fell away, and before
the scramjet had chance to ignite, the vehicle broke up and fell
into the Pacific.
Mystery of the mega stars solved?
(Aug 13, 2012)
Four stars in the brightest known star cluster in the entire Local
Group of galaxies are more massive than theorists thought possible.
One of them, known as R136a1, has about 300 times the mass of
the Sun – a figure so large that it's had theorists scratching
their heads. But a recent computer simulation has come up with
a possible answer: these stellar behemoths may have come about
when already-giant stars merged.
Major announcement coming on
galaxy cluster find
(Aug 11, 2012)
NASA to is to hold a media teleconference about a record-breaking
galaxy cluster 1 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, Aug. 15. Apparently, an
extraordinary galaxy cluster has been found that is smashing several
important cosmic records.
Curiosity may reopen the Viking
(Aug 9, 2012)
Did the Viking landers find evidence for life on Mars? One of
the Principal Investigators on the mission, Gil Levin, thinks
so. And if Curiosity turns up any carbon-based molecules, he wants
an official review of the Viking evidence.
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