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LiveScience

Since all the sources were found during local [Mars] summer and disappeared during winter, are the methane sources active only at certain periods of the Martian year? Are they near the surface or buried deeper in the soil? What mechanisms trigger the methane releases?

This impressive seasonal change in the distribution of methane raises many new questions, but one thing is for sure: Mars is no longer considered a dead planet. It has a very strong activity, whether geologic or due to life – maybe both. 

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Scientific American

The Japanese government is prepared to spend some 2 trillion yen on a one-gigawatt orbiting solar power station—and this week Mitsubishi and other Japanese companies have signed on to boost the effort. Boasting some four kilometers of solar panels—maybe of the superefficient Spectrolab variety but more likely domestically sourced from Mitsubishi or Sharp—the space solar power station would orbit some 36,000 kilometers above Earth and transmit power via microwave or laser beam.

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LiveScience

A newly discovered planet that whips around its star in less than a day may have been found mere cosmic moments before its demise.

The planet, WASP-18b, is one of the "hot Jupiter" class of planets that are huge in size (10 times the mass of Jupiter in this case), but orbit very close to their stars. Their very existence was surprising to astronomers when the first of them were found a few years back. Now they've become common discoveries.

 

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AP

South Korea aborted its first domestic launch of a rocket just minutes before scheduled liftoff because of a technical problem, delaying space ambitions that have threatened to anger rival North Korea.

The rocket was to have shot into space 4 months after North Korea was widely criticized for firing its own rocket in defiance of United Nations sanctions. The North said it would keep a close eye on the international response to Seoul's rocket launch.

 

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Space

According to the new proposition, the universe is not accelerating, as observations suggest. Instead, an expanding wave flowing throughout space-time causes distant galaxies to appear to be accelerating away from us. This big wave, initiated by the Big Bang that is thought to have sparked the universe, could explain why objects appear to be farther away from us than they should be according to the Standard Model of cosmology.

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Space

A fundamental ingredient for life has been discovered in a comet sample, supporting the idea that such icy objects seeded early Earth with the stuff needed to whip up living organisms.

New research firms up past suggestions of glycine, the simplest amino acid used to make proteins, inside samples from the comet Wild 2.

"This is the first time an amino acid has been found in a comet," said lead researcher Jamie Elsila of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Our discovery supports the theory that some of life's ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts."

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Space

NASA launched an inflatable spacecraft heat shield that showed such a device could be used to slow and protect a space capsule as it enters the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. The material - several layers of silicone-coated Kevlar - could be used to insulate a crew and cargo from the searing temperatures of re-entry.

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Discover magazine

The Spitzer Space Telescope has detected signs of an interplanetary smashup, and oh, what a colossal event it was… apparently, 100 light years away around the young star HD 172555, an object the size of the Moon slammed into a planet the size of Mercury!

First, the way cool animation they created portraying the event:

 

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NASA's new ion-propulsion system could be ready for launch as soon as 2013. 

Ion propulsion works by electrically charging, or ionizing, a gas using power from solar panels and emitting the ionized gas to propel the spacecraft in the opposite direction. The concept was first developed over 50 years ago, and the first spacecraft to use the technology was Deep Space 1 (DS1) in 1998. Since then, one other spacecraft has used ion propulsion: the Dawn mission to the outer solar system, launched in 2007.

To build the new ion-propulsion system under NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) program, engineers at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH, modified and improved the design of the engines used for DS1 and Dawn. "We made it physically bigger, but lighter, reduced the system's complexity to extend its lifetime, and, overall, improved its efficiency," says Michael Patterson, the principal investigator on the project.

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Space

NASA has made a series of critical strides in developing new nuclear reactors the size of a trash can that could power a human outpost on the moon or Mars.

Three recent tests at different NASA centers and a national lab have successfully demonstrated key technologies required for compact fission-based nuclear power plants for human settlements

 

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Space

Virgin Galactic unveiled a new partnership that pushes the throttle forward on its plans for commercial suborbital space travel and a new small satellite launch capacity.

The deal involves Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments and Virgin Galactic, the commercial spaceliner group bankrolled by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson to fly "pay-per-view" customers to the edge of space.

 

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www.physorg.com

In this week’s Nature Physics an international team, led by Oxford University scientists, report that a short pulse from the FLASH laser ‘knocked out’ a core electron from every aluminium atom in a sample without disrupting the metal’s crystalline structure. This turned the aluminium nearly invisible to extreme ultraviolet radiation.

''What we have created is a completely new state of matter nobody has seen before,’ said Professor Justin Wark of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, one of the authors of the paper. ‘Transparent aluminium is just the start. The physical properties of the matter we are creating are relevant to the conditions inside large planets, and we also hope that by studying it we can gain a greater understanding of what is going on during the creation of 'miniature stars' created by high-power laser implosions, which may one day allow the power of nuclear fusion to be harnessed here on Earth.’

The discovery was

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AFP

Hundreds attending an air show got to see an airplane built to launch a ship into space, with the eventual goal of launching commercial space travel.

The twin-fuselage craft named White Knight Two, looking like two planes connected at the wing tips, circled the runway several times on Monday before touching down at the Experimental Aircraft Association's Air Venture annual gathering.

 

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Space

Before the ticker tape parades and the inevitable world tour, the triumphant Apollo 11 astronauts were greeted with a more mundane aspect of life on Earth when they splashed down 40 years ago today - going through customs.

Just what did Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins have to declare? Moon rocks, moon dust and other lunar samples, according to the customs form filed at the Honolulu Airport in Hawaii on July 24, 1969 - the day the Apollo 11 crew splashed down in the Pacific Ocean to end their historic moon landing mission.

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Pro Liberate

While I yield to no man in my admiration for Neil Armstrong and Edward Aldrin, the space pioneers I really want to meet are Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie.

In August 2004, Mr. Melvill piloted the first privately constructed spacecraft, Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne; Binnie was at the controls on the second flight less than a week later, thereby earning the "X-Prize" for Rutan's company, Scaled Composites.

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russia today

The Soviet-era Buran space programme, mothballed 20 years ago, may be revived. With NASA about to retire its ageing fleet of space shuttles, there is a pressing need for viable space transport.

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Two decades ago the Soviet space shuttle Buran blasted off on its first and only orbital flight. Just a few years later, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the programme was shelved.

The Buran was the Soviet Union's answer to NASA’s space shuttle programme. On November 15, 1988, the shuttle was propelled out of the Earth’s atmosphere by the specially designed Energia booster rocket from the Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan.
 
Pavel Sharov from Cosmonauts News Magazine explains the advantages the Soviets had over their rivals in the U.S.

“The USSR surpassed the Americans in technology – U.S. shuttles can only be landed by humans, while th

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Washington Post

The international space station is the largest spacecraft built by earthlings.  After more than a decade of construction, it is nearing completion.

And then?

"In the first quarter of 2016, we'll prep and de-orbit the spacecraft," says NASA's space station program manager,

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