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Space News from
April 29, 2012
Russia brings three spacemen safely back to Earth
Moscow (AFP) April 27, 2012 - Two Russian spacemen and a NASA astronaut touched down safely Friday in the Kazakh steppe aboard a Soyuz capsule after a stay of almost six months aboard the International Space Station. Seventeen Russian helicopters and jets patrolled the clear blue skies as the silver metal capsule parachuted gracefully through the air before bumping into a field of straw and early spring grass and rolling ... more

Shuttle Enterprise soars over New York on final flight
New York (AFP) April 27, 2012 - The US space shuttle Enterprise bowed out Friday on America's biggest stage - a flyover of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan's skyscrapers - before heading to a museum in New York at the end of an era in American space travel. Crowds along the Hudson cheered as the shuttle, piggybacking on a modified Boeing 747, passed three times over New York harbor. "I think it's one of the cooles ... more

Risat-1 catapults India into a select group of nations
Siharikota, India(IANS) Apr 27, 2012 - On an early on Thursday morning, an Indian rocket successfully launched into orbit a microwave Radar Imaging Satellite (Risat-1) from the spaceport here in Andhra Pradesh, some 80 km from Chennai. With the launch of Risat-1, India has now joined a select group of nations having such a technology. The indigenously built Risat-1, with a life span of five years, will be used for disaster pred ... more

Martian Volcanic Glass Could Be Hotspot for Life
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - Glass sand on Mars may point the way to chemically-rich water ideal for hosting life. The newly discovered glass dune fields, spread across almost a third of the planet, likely formed from interactions between magma and ice or water - interactions that could create the perfect environments for microbial life. The northern lowlands spread across millions of square miles in the red planet's ... more

NASA Astrophysicist Sten Odenwald to Discuss Transit of Venus
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - The public is invited to a free lecture being held at the Library of Congress, about the rare Venus transit event. On June 5, 2012, the planet Venus will move across the face of the sun. Such transits of Venus are among the rarest of planetary alignments, and they come in pairs that are eight years apart but separated by more than a century. "Only six such events have occurred since the in ... more

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Tiny 'spherules' reveal details about Earth's asteroid impacts
West Lafayette, IN (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - Researchers are learning details about asteroid impacts going back to the Earth's early history by using a new method for extracting precise information from tiny "spherules" embedded in layers of rock. The spherules were created when asteroids crashed into the Earth, vaporizing rock that expanded into space as a giant vapor plume. Small droplets of molten and vaporized rock in the plume c ... more

NASA's Webb Telescope Flight Backplane Section Completed
Greenbelt, MD (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - The center section of the backplane structure that will fly on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has been completed, marking an important milestone in the telescope's hardware development. The backplane will support the telescope's beryllium mirrors, instruments, thermal control systems and other hardware throughout its mission. "Completing the center section of the backplane is an i ... more

Moon Express Delivers Lunar Mission Design Report for mining the Moon for precious resources
Mountain View CA (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - Moon Express has announced that it has successfully delivered a mission design package to NASA under its Innovative Lunar Demonstration Data (ILDD) Program, providing NASA continuing data on the development of the company's commercial lunar missions and plans to mine the Moon for precious planetary resources. The newest task order in the $10M ILDD contract called for Moon Express to provid ... more

Rubber Chicken Flies into Solar Radiation Storm
Huntsville AL (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - Last month, when the sun unleashed the most intense radiation storm since 2003, peppering satellites with charged particles and igniting strong auroras around both poles, a group of high school students in Bishop, California, knew just what to do. They launched a rubber chicken. The students inflated a helium balloon and used it to send the fowl, named "Camilla," to an altitude of 12 ... more

NASA's Landsat Satellites See Texas Crop Circles
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - A water-rich polka dot pattern takes over the traditional rectangular patchwork of fields in this time series animation of 40 years of Landsat images. In the dry Texas panhandle near the town of Dalhart, this transformation is due to center-pivot irrigation, a farming method that improves water distribution to fields. It was invented by farmer Frank Zybach in 1949. Center-pivot irrigation ... more

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Do Milky Way's Companions Spell Trouble for Dark Matter?
Bonn, Germany (SPX) Apr 26, 2012 - Astronomers from the University of Bonn in Germany have discovered a vast structure of satellite galaxies and clusters of stars surrounding our galaxy, stretching out across a million light-years. The work challenges the existence of dark matter, part of the standard model for the evolution of the universe. PhD student and lead author Marcel Pawlowski reports the team's findings in a paper in th ... more

NASA Research Estimates How Long Titan's Chemical Factory Has Been in Business
Greenbelt, MD (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - Saturn's giant moon Titan hides within a thick, smoggy atmosphere that's well-known to scientists as one of the most complex chemical environments in the solar system. It's a productive "factory" cranking out hydrocarbons that rain down on Titan's icy surface, cloaking it in soot and, with a brutally cold surface temperature of around minus 270 degrees Fahrenheit, forming lakes of liquid methane ... more

First payload ready for next batch of Galileo satellites
Paris (ESA) Apr 27, 2012 - The next Galileo navigation payload has been completed and is on its way to meet the satellite platform that will host it in orbit. The first of 14 Galileo 'Full Operational Capability' (FOC) navigation payloads has been shipped from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in the UK to prime contractor OHB System AG in Bremen Germany. The payload - the part of the satellite that provides Galileo's ... more

ORBITEC and Sierra Nevada Space Systems Begin Testing Dream Chaser Life Support and Thermal Systems
Madison WI (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - Orbital Technologies (ORBITEC) is the prime contractor for Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and Thermal Control System (TCS) for the Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Dream Chaser Space System. ORBITEC has, along with its partner Hamilton Sundstrand, successfully completed two major tests for SNC under NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Program. The tests inclu ... more

Mars Express explores the roots of Martian volcanoes
Paris, France (ESA) Apr 27, 2012 - Recent analysis of radio signals sent back by ESA's Mars Express orbiter has enabled a team of Belgian and German scientists to probe deep beneath the surface of Mars. The first targeted, high resolution measurements of Martian gravity provide new insights into the formation of the planet's massive volcanoes. A great deal has been learned about the surface of Mars over the last half centur ... more

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Cassini Finds Saturn Moon has Planet-Like Qualities
Pasadena CA (JPL) Apr 27, 2012 - Data from NASA's Cassini mission reveal Saturn's moon Phoebe has more planet-like qualities than previously thought. Scientists had their first close-up look at Phoebe when Cassini began exploring the Saturn system in 2004. Using data from multiple spacecraft instruments and a computer model of the moon's chemistry, geophysics and geology, scientists found Phoebe was a so-called planetesimal, or ... more

Expedition 30 Crew Returning Home Friday
Houston TX (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - The six astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station packed cargo and shifted their sleep schedule Thursday as three Expedition 30 crew members prepare to return to Earth early Friday after five and a half months in space. Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who arrived at the orbiting complex on Nov. 16, are ... more

Three Earthlike planets identified by Cornell astronomers
Cornell NY (SPX) Apr 27, 2012 - It's not little green men, but it could be a step in that direction: Cornell astronomers, using data from the NASA Kepler Mission, have identified three Earthlike planets orbiting their own suns, all of which could be hospitable to life. The team of astronomers used the Cornell-built Near-Infrared Triple Spectrograph (TripleSpec) at California's Mount Palomar Observatory to measure the tem ... more

Pieces of meteorite found in California
Lotus, Calif. (UPI) Apr 26, 2012 - A NASA astronomer says he found fragments of the meteor that exploded in a giant fireball over California Sunday morning. Petrus Jenniskens said he found fragments of the object Wednesday in a parking lot of Henningsen Lotus Park, located in the small town of Lotus in El Dorado County near California's historic Sutter's Mill. "This meteor itself must have been big," Jenniskens to ... more

British media watchdog boosts probe into Murdoch's BSkyB
London (AFP) April 26, 2012 - Britain's media regulator said Thursday it was stepping up its probe into whether BSkyB, the pay-TV giant partly owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is a "fit and proper" owner of a broadcasting licence. The Ofcom watchdog has asked News Corp.'s Newspapers division to hand over a cache of documents as part of its investigation into whether the phone hacking scandal at his British newspaper ... more


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