extraordinary_year_logo1Sweeping the Dust from a Cosmic Lobster
Munich, Germany (SPX) Feb 25, 2013 – A new image from ESO’s VISTA telescope captures a celestial landscape of glowing clouds of gas and tendrils of dust surrounding hot young stars. This infrared view reveals the stellar nursery known as NGC 6357 in a surprising new light. It was taken as part of a VISTA survey that is currently scanning the Milky Way in a bid to map our galaxy’s structure and explain how it formed. Located a … more

Hubble Sees Cosmic “Flying V” of Merging Galaxies
Baltimore MD (SPX) Feb 25, 2013 – This large “flying V” is actually two distinct objects – a pair of interacting galaxies known as IC 2184. Both the galaxies are seen almost edge-on in the large, faint northern constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe), and can be seen as bright streaks of light surrounded by the ghostly shapes of their tidal tails. These tidal tails are thin, elongated streams of gas, dust and stars t … more

Cassini Still Going Strong Investigating Saturn’s Moons
Tucson AZ (SPX) Feb 25, 2013 – NASA’s longstanding Cassini mission to Saturn continues to provide scientists with exciting new insights on moons Titan and Enceladus as well as the planet’s striking rings, Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Amanda R. Hendrix reported at a conference last week. “Cassini, our emissary in the Saturn system since 2004, and the only spacecraft in orbit in the outer solar system, is … more

Russia plans to increase its space market
Havana (UPI) Feb 23, 2013 – Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia plans to increase its share of the global “space service market” from its current 10 percent to 15 percent. “We want to be not just a leading scientific power, a space researcher country, but also a player on the space service market,” Medvedev said during an interview in Cuba, published Saturday. Although Medvedev did not give a time fr … more

Rare asteroid sporting ‘tail’ spotted
Madrid (UPI) Feb 21, 2013 – Asteroids, unlike comets, are seldom seen sporting a tail as they orbit the sun, but Spanish astronomers say they’ve observed one of these rare exceptions. Using a telescope in the Canary Islands, they spotted an asteroid dubbed P/2012 F5 that displayed a trail like that of comets. Its emission of dust or gas may have been caused by internal rupture or collision with another aste … more

A war without end with Earth’s carbon cycle held in the balance
Corvallis OR (SPX) Feb 19, 2013 – The greatest battle in Earth’s history has been going on for hundreds of millions of years, isn’t over yet, and until now no one knew it existed, scientists report in the journal Nature. In one corner is SAR11, a bacterium that’s the most abundant organism in the oceans, survives where most other cells would die and plays a major role in the planet’s carbon cycle. It had been theorized tha … more

Molecules Assemble in Water, Hint at Origins of Life
Atlanta CA (SPX) Feb 22, 2013 – The base pairs that hold together two pieces of RNA, the older cousin of DNA, are some of the most important molecular interactions in living cells. Many scientists believe that these base pairs were part of life from the very beginning and that RNA was one of the first polymers of life. But there is a problem. The RNA bases don’t form base pairs in water unless they are connected to a pol … more

ISS plays host to innovative infectious disease research
Tempe AZ (SPX) Feb 22, 2013 – Performing sensitive biological experiments is always a delicate affair. Few researchers, however, contend with the challenges faced by Cheryl Nickerson, whose working laboratory aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is located hundreds of miles above the Earth, traveling at some 17,000 miles per hour. Nickerson, a microbiologist at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, is … more

Stanford scientists explore new technologies that remove atmospheric CO2
Stanford CA (SPX) Feb 22, 2013 – In his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, President Obama singled out climate change as a top priority for his second administration. “We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence,” he said. “Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act … more

Time for Europe to beef up asteroid vigilance: ESA
Paris (AFP) Feb 21, 2013 – Europe must strengthen its watch for dangerous space rocks, the head of the European Space Agency’s asteroid surveillance programme said Thursday, a week after a meteor struck Russia in a blinding fireball. Nicolas Bobrinsky, in charge of ESA’s four-year-old Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme, said his unit would inaugurate a centre in Rome on May 22 to coordinate observatories’ sig … more

India plans mission to Mars in 2013
New Delhi (AFP) Feb 21, 2013 – India said on Thursday it will send a $70 million space mission to Mars this year to study the red planet’s atmosphere. The unmanned Mars orbiter mission, to be launched in October by the Indian Space Research Organisation, will undertake a 300-day journey to the planet to collect data about its climate and geology. “The space programme epitomises India’s scientific achievements and bene … more