SPACE & SCIENCE
NEWS: October 2012
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WISE sheds light on Jupiter Trojans
(Oct 16, 2012)
NASA's WISE (Wide-field Infrared Explorer) has found that the
majority of the Jupiter Trojans – asteroids that share the
same orbit as Jupiter – are D-class asteroids, dark red
in color and made of prisitine material from the early days of
the Solar System. Probably they formed in the same region as Jupiter
itself, rather than originating further afield and then being
subsequantly captured by the big planet's gravity.
Baumgartner's skydive goes into
the record books
(Oct 15, 2012)
Felix Baumgartner broke three records during his jump yesterday
from a capsule suspended beneath a giant helium balloon. His skydive
from an altitude of 128,100ft (39,045m) was the highest ever;
his freefall distance of 119,846ft (36,529m was the longest ever);
and, with a speed of 834mph (1,342.8km/h, or Mach 1.24) he became
the first person to break the sound barrier outside a vehicle.
The day the sound barrier was
(Oct 14, 2012)
On this day in 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a
Bell XS-1 rocket plane over Murac Dry Lake, California. Yeager
had cracked a couple of ribs the day before in a riding accident.
But rather than tell the flight surgeon and have the mission canceled,
he flew strapped up and took along a sawn-off length of broomstick
so that he could close the cockpit door without having to strain
his injured side.
The diamond planet of 55 Cancri
(Oct 12, 2012)
The star 55 Cancri A is a happy hunting ground for anyone interested
in exoplanets. So far 5 planets have been found around it, including
one of the first planets to be found around a Sun-like star and
the first known super-Earth. According to a new hypothesis, this
super-Earth, planet e, might consist one-third of carbon mostly
in the form of diamond.
The strange spiral of R Sculptoris
(Oct 11, 2012)
The star called R Sculptoris – a red giant, lying about
1,500 light-years away – is unique among all known stars.
As well as being surrounded by a shell of dust grains that glows
brightly at infrared and millimeter wavelengths, observations
by it shows a dusty spiral inside the shell. A second, unseen
star is almost certainly to blame.
On the verge of a black-hole
(Oct 10, 2012)
Scottish scientists are close to having a laser system ready that
will simulate the behavior of a black hole. In particular it will
test the idea put forward in the 1970s by Stephen Hawking that
black holes are not truly black – they emit, due to a quantum
effect, a kind of light called Hawking radiation.
more (New Scientist)
US Air Force plans to build high-speed
(Oct 9, 2012)
Back in the 1950s, the US military took flying saucers very seriously
– not so much the alien-piloted variety that were the favorite
of science fiction but real aircraft that might have flown at
speeds upto 2,600 mph and altitudes of 100,000ft.
more (The Guardian)
Leap from the edge of space scheduled
(Oct 8, 2012)
Austrian skydiver Fekix Baumgartner may be on the eve of shattering
Joe Kittinger's record for the highest freefall jump in history.
If all goes well, Baumgartner will step out of his tiny capsule
lofted to a height of 36.5 km (23 miles, or 120,000ft) by a helium
balloon and plummet to Earth before opening his parachute just
5,000ft above the ground.
Best estimate yet for the growth
rate of the universe
(Oct 5, 2012)
The universe is expanding – but how fast? The key number
is the so-called Hubble constant, which measures the cosmic expansion
rate in units of kilometers per second per megaparsec. For many
years astronomers only knew the value of the Hubble constant to
within a factor of 2, but the latest estimate, coming out of measurements
made using the Spitzer Space Telescope, have pinned it down to
within just 3 percent.
55 years ago the Space Age –
and Space Race – began
(Oct 4, 2012)
On this day, 55 years ago, the Soviet Union launched the first
artificial satellite – Sputnik 1. Although it carried only
a radio transmitter and weighed just 184lb the little spacecraft
sent a shiver down the spine of Western governments because it
showed not only that the Soviets were ahead in space technology
but also that they had rockets capable of delivering payloads,
including nuclear warheads, over intercontinental distances.
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