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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: March 2012
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A fleeting encounter with an 'inbetweener' Mar 30, 2012
Picture captures a billion stars Mar 29, 2012
Far-flung galaxy's carbon signal Mar 28, 2012
Oldest known planets in the universe found Mar 27, 2012
Cassini to make closest pass yet over Enceladus south pole Mar 27, 2012
UK edition of David's new book Megacatastrophes! now being shipped Mar 27, 2012
Warp-speed planets ejected from Milky Way Mar 26, 2012
Asteroid headed for Earth? Give it the laser treatment... Mar 25, 2012
Debris prompts space station crew to seek shelter Mar 24, 2012
Giant asteroid Vesta 'resembles planet' Mar 23, 2012
Thousand-year wait for Titan's methane rain Mar 23, 2012
Mercury poles give up hints of water ice Mar 22, 2012
Super-Earth unlikely able to transfer life to other planets Mar 21, 2012
Icy Saturn moon 'may be active' Mar 20, 2012
Mystery of slick Martian slopes gets less slippery Mar 20, 2012
42 and Douglas Adams Mar 19, 2012
The end is nine: feature story in today's Sun on Megacatastrophes Mar 16, 2012
‘Mass Effect’ Solves The Fermi Paradox? Mar 16, 2012
Where did the Sun come from? The search continues Mar 15, 2012
Not just the Higgs boson Mar 13, 2012
Villain in disguise: Jupiter’s role in impacts on Earth Mar 12, 2012
Venus and Jupiter to pass in the night sky Mar 12, 2012
Neutrinos could help explain missing antimatter Mar 10, 2012
Here comes the Sun – uh, uh, uh, oh Mar 8, 2012
Citizen scientists reveal a bubbly Milky Way Mar 7, 2012
More than 2,300 possible planets now identified by Kepler Mar 7, 2012
Tevatron collider's mighty boost for Higgs hunt Mar 5, 2012
Meteor witnessed across Britain Mar 4, 2012
Darkness visible in galactic train wreck Mar 4, 2012
Oxygen envelops Saturn's icy moon Mar 2, 2012
SETI Live website to crowdsource alien life Mar 1, 2012
Young stars flicker amidst clouds of gas and dust Mar 1, 2012


Gravity map of Lutetia
A fleeting encounter with an 'inbetweener'
(Mar 30, 2012)


Asteroid Lutetia, which was studied up close but only briefly by the Rosetta probe as it flew by in 2010, is presenting astronomers with a puzzle. It's a lot more dense than they expected – in fact, one of the densest asteroids known. That suggests it has a high iron content, which means it may once have been partly molten. Is it more like a planet than an ordinary asteroid?

Read more. BBC

billion-star_image_of_the_Milky_Way
Picture captures a billion stars
(Mar 29, 2012)


Scientists have produced a colossal picture of our Milky Way Galaxy, to reveal the detail of a billion stars. It is built from thousands of individual images acquired by two UK-developed telescopes operating in Hawaii and in Chile. Archived data from the project, known as the Vista Data Flow System, will be mined by astronomers to make new discoveries about the local cosmos.

Read more. BBC

J1120+0641
Far-flung galaxy's carbon signal
(Mar 28, 2012)


Astronomers have detected vast amounts of gas and dust in the galaxy that contains the most distant supermassive black hole known to science. The galaxy, called J1120+0641, is so far away, its light has taken more than 13 billion years to reach Earth. Researchers say they were surprised to see so much carbon in the observations.

Read more. BBC

exoplanet system
Oldest known planets in the universe found
(Mar 27, 2012)


The planetary system around HP 11952, just 375 light-years away, appears to be almost as old as the universe itself. When the Earth was formed it was already 8 billion years old. What is surprising is that HP 11952 has planets at all given its very low abundance of heavy elements.

Read more. Skymania.com

Cassini's 17th flyby of Enceladus
Cassini to make closest pass yet over Enceladus south pole
(Mar 27, 2012)


NASA's Cassini spacecraft is preparing to make its lowest pass yet over the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus, where icy particles and water vapor spray out in glittering jets. The closest approach, at an altitude of about 74 km, will occur around 11:30 a.m. PDT on March 27. This flyby is primarily designed for Cassini's ion and neutral mass spectrometer, which will attempt to "taste" particles from the jets.

Read more. NASA/JPL

Megacatastrophes
UK edition of David's new book Megacatastrophes! now being shipped
(Mar 27, 2012)


My latest book Megacatastrophes: Nine Strange Ways the World Could End is now available in bookstores in Britain and can also be ordered from Amazon UK. It looks at the real science behind both natural and human-caused disaters that could threaten civilization, including asteroid collisions, stellar explosions, supervolcanoes, ice ages, nanotechnology and computers gone awry, untreatable pandemics, nasty side-effects of physics experiments, and even alien invasion. "A fascinating book that got better with every page – I couldn't put it down!" – Debra Fischer, professor of astronomy, Yale.

Read more. Amazon (UK)

artist's impression of a hypervelocity planet
Warp-speed planets ejected from Milky Way
(Mar 26, 2012)


New simulations suggest that planets, just like stars, could be booted out of their home galaxies at neck-breaking speeds of 30 million miles per hour. "We definitely see hypervelocity stars out there, and it's no stretch of the imagination to believe that there are hypervelocity planets out there as well," says lead author of the study Idan Ginsburg of Dartmouth College.

Read more. Astronomy Now

asteroid heading toward Earth ISS
Asteroid headed for Earth? Give it the laser treatment...
(Mar 25, 2012)


Engineers at Strathclyde University in Glasgow believe they have found an answer to the danger posed by asteroids. In a paper presented to the Planetary Society last month, they argue that a swarm of relatively small satellites, fitted with solar-powered lasers, flying over the surface of an asteroid could vaporize it much more easily than a large unwieldy spacecraft, carrying atomic bombs, could do.

Read more. The Guardian

Nighttime view of Earth from the ISS
Debris prompts space station crew to seek shelter
(Mar 24, 2012)


A passing piece of potentially dangerous space debris forced astronauts at the International Space Station to temporarily seek refuge in escape ships early on Saturday. The debris, a fragment from an old Russian satellite named Cosmos 2251 that smashed into an Iridium Communications spacecraft in 2009, passed harmlessly by the $100 billion orbital outpost at 2:38 a.m. EDT (0638 GMT), NASA said.

Read more. Reuters

Dawn's view of the south pole of the giant asteroid Vesta
Giant asteroid Vesta 'resembles planet'
(Mar 23, 2012)


The giant asteroid Vesta possesses many features usually associated with rocky planets like Earth, according to data from a Nasa probe. Vesta has been viewed as a massive asteroid, but after studying the surface in detail, scientists are describing it as "transitional". The Dawn spacecraft has been orbiting Vesta – one of the Solar System's most primitive objects - since July 2011.

Read more. BBC

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