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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: May 2013
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Richard Feynman
Remembering Richard Feynman
(May 11, 2013)


Born on this day in 1918, the American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics with Julian Schwinger and Shinichiro Tomonaga for their independent work on quantum electrodynamics. With Murray Gell-Mann, he proposed the quark as a fundamental subatomic particle.

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Cumberland drill site
Drill site no. 2 picked for Mars rover
(May 10, 2013)


The Curiosity science team at JPL have picked a second target for the rover to start drilling some time in the next few days. Called 'Cumberland,' it's about nine feet (2.75 meters) west of the rock where Curiosity drilled for the first time, back in February.

Read more (NASA/JPL)

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
This day in 1900: birth of famed female astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
(May 10, 2013)


Born on this day in 1900, the British-American American astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin who became the first female full professor at Harvard and one of the founders of modern astrophysics. Her Ph.D. dissertation, entitled "Stellar Atmospheres: A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars" (1925), was later acclaimed as the best in 20th century astronomy.

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V-2 launch
This day in 1946: first V-2 launch from White Sands
(May 10, 2013)


On this day in 1946, the first successful launch took place of a captured German V-2 rocket at White Sands Proving Ground. Fired from Pad 33, the flight reached an altitude of 112.6 kilometers.

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Earth seen from the Moon
Moon's water came from Earth
(May 10, 2013)


The message of tiny glass beads inside the Apollo Moon rocks is that the infant Earth was wet – long before comets and asteroids delivered more during a heavy bombardment phase. And some of Earth's early water ended up on the Moon.

Read more (New Scientist)

Fireball seen passing over England and Wales
Fireball over UK may have come from Halley's Comet
(May 9, 2013)


Last night, people in many parts of England and Wales watched a fireball pass across the sky. Since the event happened at the time of the annual Eta Aquarids meteor shower, the object is suspected to have been debris from Halley's Comet.

Read more (BBC)

Martian dust devil
Deadly dust on Mars may threaten future explorers
(May 9, 2013)


"Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids," sang Elton John. Maybe the second line of that verse should be changed to "In fact, it's toxic as hell" following the realization by scientists that Martian dust could prove extremely hazardous to human health. Not only does it contain fine-grained silicates of the type that, if breathed in, can damage the lungs, but perchlorates also seem to be widespread on the Red Planet – chemicals that can attack the thyroid gland. Meticulous ways to avoid bringing dust into habitable areas will probably be essential.

Read more (New Scientist)

Artist's impression of the center of the Galaxy
Herschel sharpens view of galactic center
(May 8, 2013)


Observations made by the Herschel Space Observatory, before it ran out of coolant recently, have given astronomers an unprecedented look at the region – just a few light-years across – which surrounds the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy. Shown here is an artist's impression of that region.

Read more (ESA)

Mars simulation
NASA talks up propsects for manned Mars mission
(May 7, 2013)


NASA appears to be getting serious about sending humans to Mars,although it insistsw on the importance of a precursor mission, to capture an asteroid and push it into an orbit near the Moon. The US space agency still has to overcome two giant hurdles if it is put people on another planet: financial and technological. Among the latter are the radiation risks to astronauts of a 1,000-day excution in to deep space.

Read more (Guardian)

Possible fragments of the Tunguska object
Fragments from the Tunguska explosion found?
(May 4, 2013)


Now, this could prove interesting. Bits of whatever it was that exploded over the Tunguska River area of Siberia on June 30, 1908, have been found according to Andrei Zlobin from the Russian Academy of Sciences. Was the Tunguska object a small asteroid or a piece of a comet? If these fragments are from that event we may be able to find out.

Read more (MIT)

NGC 6240
Chandra peers at spiral galaxy smash-up
(May 2, 2013)


Researchers have used the Chandra X-ray Observatory to take a closer look at the scene of a mighty collision between two large spiral galaxies. The central supermassive black holes of the galaxies are spiraling in toward each other; meanwhile, the merging systems are undergoing a vigorous burst of star formation.

Read more (NASA/Chandra)

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