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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2012
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Launch abort of first Dragon supply ship
SpaceX Dragon ship aborts launch
(May 20, 2012)


The launch of SpaceX's re-supply mission to the International Space Station has been delayed by at least three days. The company was forced to abort the flight just as its Falcon rocket was about to leave the pad at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Early data indicated unusual pressure readings in one of the nine engine combustion chambers under the vehicle. The company says it hopes to try again on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Read more. BBC

The Herschel Space Observatory has discovered a giant, galaxy-packed filament ablaze with billions of new stars. Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/McGill Univ
Herschel sees intergalactic bridge aglow with stars
(May 19, 2012)


The Herschel Space Observatory has discovered a giant, galaxy-packed filament ablaze with billions of new stars. The filament connects two clusters of galaxies that, along with a third cluster, will smash together and give rise to one of the largest galaxy superclusters in the universe. The filament is the first structure of its kind spied in a critical era of cosmic buildup when colossal collections of galaxies called superclusters began to take shape.

Read more. NASA/JPL

New results from NASA's NEOWISE survey find that more potentially hazardous asteroids, or PHAs, are closely aligned with the plane of our solar system than previous models suggested. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA survey counts potentially hazardous asteroids
(May 18, 2012)


Drawing on data from the WISE infrared-observing spacecraft a new estimate puts the total population of potentially hazardous asteroids (those that carry some risk of hitting us and doing some damage) with diameters of more than 100 meters at 4,700 plus or minus 1,500. Of these, about three-quarters have yet to be discovered.

Read more. NASA/JPL

Superflares (white area) arise from starspots (dark areas) much larger than those seen on our Sun. Rendering by Hiroyuki Maehara (Kwasan and Hida Observatories, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University)
Sun-like stars and superflares
(May 17, 2012)


'Superflares' – up to 10 million times as energetic the largest solar flare on record (the so-called Carrington event of 1859) – have occasionally been observed on other stars. Now Hiroyuki Maehara and colleagues at Kyoto University in Japan have carried out the first analysis of of this phenomenon based on 120 days of Kepler observations in 2009. Out of 83,000 stars of the same type as the Sun, 148 (about 0.2%) had superflares with energies between 10 and 10,000 times greater than the Carrington event.

Read more. Nature

Teleportation record
Teleportation record heralds secure global network
(May 16, 2012)


The distance record for quantum teleportation has been smashed. Juan Yin and colleagues at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui, teleported a quantum state 97 kilometers, 81 km further than the previous record. Yin's team entangle photons – which links their properties even when the photons are separated. Then they beam one photon from each entangled pair to a point A and the other to B.

Read more. New Scientist

Fomalhaut dust disk
Dust rings not 'smoking gun' for planets after all
(May 15, 2012)


There can be smoke without fire. Sharp rings of dust around stars aren't always carved by planets but can form on their own Ė bad news for those who use the structures to guide them to stars that host planets. The finding also has implications for the existence of a controversial candidate exoplanet.

Read more. New Scientist

Sunspot region 1476
Earth-facing sunspots could erupt this weekend
(May 13, 2012)


Space weather forecasters are keeping a close watch on a large collection of sunspots that could unleash blasts of energy or charged particles toward Earth in the coming days. Sunspot region 1476, the dark patch resembling the Hawaiian Islands in the photo at left, is located near the center of the Sunís face as seen from Earth but has yet to act out in any major way.

Read more. Scientific American

Vesta south polar region
Asteroid Vesta is 'last of a kind' rock
(May 11, 2012)


Vesta is the only remaining example of the original objects that came together to form the rocky planets, like Earth and Mars, some 4.6 billion years ago. This assessment is based on data from the Dawn probe which has been orbiting the second largest body in the asteroid belt for the past 10 months. The findings from the Nasa mission are reported in Science magazine.

Read more. BBC

MIRI
James Webb telescope's 'first light' instrument ready to ship
(May 10, 2012)


One of Europe's main contributions to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is built and ready to ship to the US. The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) will gather key data as the $9bn observatory seeks to identify the first starlight in the Universe.The results of testing conducted at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK have just been signed off, clearing Miri to travel to America. James Webb – regarded as the successor to Hubble – is due to launch in 2018.

Read more. BBC

Artist's impression of 55 Cancri e
Spitzer sees the light of alien super-Earth
(May 9, 2012)


NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected light emanating from a "super-Earth" planet (55 Cancri e) beyond our solar system for the first time. While the planet is not habitable, the detection is a historic step toward the eventual search for signs of life on other planets.

Read more. NASA/JPL

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