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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: March 2013
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Record-breaking trip to ISS Mar 31, 2013
New type of supernova discovered Mar 28, 2013
Moon and Vesta have more in common that suspected Mar 26, 2013
Biggest planet or smallest (failed) star? Mar 24, 2013
Fireball lights up East Coast sky Mar 23, 2013
Did a comet kill the dinosaurs? Mar 22, 2013
Opportunity and Curiosity find similar rocks on Mars Mar 21, 2013
Universe just got older and lost some dark energy Mar 21, 2013
Herschel spots youngest stars ever seen Mar 20, 2013
Bright white rock on Mars found by accident Mar 19, 2013
Goldstone radar snags images of asteroid 2013 ET Mar 19, 2013
Uncovering the secret of an unusual ring galaxy Mar 18, 2013
Is time travel possible? Mar 17, 2013
Curisoity rover eyes Mount Sharp Mar 16, 2013
Dizzy the white dwarf in danger of spinning apart Mar 15, 2013
The latest super-observatory opens for business Mar 14, 2013
New estimate puts nearest habitable Earth-like planet less than 7 light-years away Mar 13, 2013
Brown dwarfs found on our doorstep Mar 11, 2013
When will we go back to the Moon? Mar 11, 2013
Particle bubbles blow by black hole merger Mar 9, 2013
New life found in Lake Vostok Mar 7, 2013
Surface window into Europa's ocean Mar 6, 2013
Herschel near the end of its life Mar 5, 2013
Comet ISON – coming soon to a sky near you Mar 5, 2013
Did a dark lens make this supernova super-bright? Mar 4, 2013
Alternative theory of gravity gets boost from Andromeda Mar 4, 2013
Rocket Man: The Legacy of Wernher von Braun Mar 3, 2013
Dragon docking with ISS delayed Mar 2, 2013
Mystery ring of radiation briefly encircled Earth Mar 1, 2013


Soyuz launch
Record-breaking trip to ISS
(Mar 31, 2013)


Three astronauts aboard their Soyuz capsule have reached the International Space Station in record time – a mere 5 hours 45 minutes. Usually, from launch to docking takes a couple of days. The trick to making the trip so fast wasn't extra speed but greater precision in matching the orbit of the ISS.

Read more (New Scientist)

Artist's concept of a type Iax supernova
New type of supernova discovered
(Mar 28, 2013)


Astronomers have discovered a new and very weak kind of supernova. Supernovas generally are classified into two main types; the new class, called Type Iax, "is essentially a mini-supernova," said lead researcher Ryan Foley at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Material from a hot, blue helium star funnels onto a carbon/oxygen white dwarf star which, which undergoes an explosion when it has captured sufficient mass. In many cases the white dwarf survives the subsequent explosion.

Read more (Scientific American)

Scientists have discovered that studying meteorites from Vesta helps them understand the event known as the lunar cataclysm, when a repositioning of the gas giant planets destabilized a portion of the asteroid belt and triggered a solar-system-wide bombardment. Image credit: NASA/GSFC/ASU/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Moon and Vesta have more in common that suspected
(Mar 26, 2013)


Scientists from NASA's Lunar Science Institute have found evidence that the same population of high-speed projectiles that hit the Moon four billion years ago, also hit Vesta and perhaps other large asteroids. The discovery supports the theory that the repositioning of gas giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn from their original orbits to their current location destabilized portions of the asteroid belt and triggered a solar system-wide bombardment of asteroids billions of years ago, called the lunar cataclysm.

Read more (NASA/JPL)

2M0103
Biggest planet or smallest (failed) star?
(Mar 24, 2013)


Is the fainter of the three objects in this picture one of the most massive planets ever found or the lightest brown dwarf we know? Cataloged as 2MASS0103(AB)b, it's in a huge orbit, 12.5 billion kilometers in radius, around a binary star system. It's mass, which is 12 to 14 times that of Jupiter, places it near the dividing line between exceptionally massive planets and exceptionally light failed stars.

Read more (New Scientist)

East Coast fireball
Fireball lights up East Coast sky
(Mar 23, 2013)


A bright fireball streaked across the sky from Maine to North Carolina around 8 pm (EST) on Friday night, triggering multiple eyewitness reports and and tweets. Most likely the object involved involved was a rock about a meter in diameter. It isn't known if any fragments survived to fall as meteorites.

Read more (ABC News)

Chicxulub impact
Did a comet kill the dinosaurs?
(Mar 22, 2013)


The space rock that hit Earth 65 million years ago and is widely implicated in the end of the dinosaurs was likely a speeding comet. That is the conclusion of research which suggests the 180km-wide Chicxulub crater in Mexico was carved out by a smaller object than previously thought. Many scientists consider a large and relatively slow moving asteroid to have been the likely culprit.

Read more (BBC)

Outcrops at Whitewater Lake
Opportunity and Curiosity find similar rocks on Mars
(Mar 21, 2013)


The Opportunity rover is studying the most ancient rocks it has yet seen on Mars – and they resemble those found by its one-tonne cousin Curiosity. The findings could help build a picture of early Mars – and whether it would have been amenable to primitive life. The ancient rocks found by Opportunity occur as a light-toned outcrop known as Whitewater Lake.

Read more (BBC)

Planck map of the microwave background
Universe just got older and lost some dark energy
(Mar 21, 2013)


A remarkable new map of the "oldest light", made using data from the Planck space telescope has just been released by the European Space Agency. The map suggests that the universe is about 50 million years older than previously thought; it also contains less dark energy and more matter than previous estimates suggested.

Read more

Images of some of the youngest stars ever seen (circled), in M78
Herschel spots youngest stars ever seen
(Mar 20, 2013)


The Herschel space telescope, now nearing the end of its active life, has discovered a clutch of the youngest stars ever seen. The 15 protostars are embedded in dense clouds of gas and dust in the relatively nearby Orion star-forming region; 11 glow at such long wavelengths that they are believed to be almost newborn.

Read more (NASA/JPL)

When Curiosity drove over this rock, nicknamed Tintina, the rock broke apart and exposed a fresh, bright white surface
Bright white rock on Mars found by accident
(Mar 19, 2013)


Curiosity has made an important discovery on Mars by accident. One of its wheel split a rock apart and exposed a brilliant white interior rich in hydrated minerals. This adds to the growing weight of evidence that Gale Crater had a watery environment that may have been conducive to the development of primitive life. At the latest press conference on the rover's progress, chief scientist John Grotzinger, described Curiosity's landing site as the first truly habitable environment found on Mars.

Read more (BBC)

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