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If a similar Planet had passed through our own Solar System.


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Planet Solar System.
If a similar Planet had passed through our own Solar System.

Strange extrasolar planet orbits explained.

When Astronomers discovered that the planets around Upsilon Andromedae had very strange orbits, they weren't sure what could have caused it. Researchers from Berkeley and Northwestern have developed a simulation that shows how an additional planet could have given the other planets the orbital kick they needed to explain their current eccentricities. If a similar planet had passed through our own solar system early on, all our planets could be in wildly different orbits around the Sun.

Science replicate in the Mars laboratory.

While Spirit and Opportunity could still be scouring the Red planet in a few years, they'll be joined by a new partner: the Mars Science Laboratory. Schedule for launch in 2009, this mission will deliver a rover three times as large as the current rovers to the surface of Mars. It will have a suite of scientific instruments including the ChemCam: a powerful laser that will allow it to vapourize and analyze rock from 10 metres (33 feet away). And since it'll be powered by a radioactive powerplant, it won't need to rely on feeble solar power for energy.

Cassini set for closest Titan flyby.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft is scheduled to make its closest ever flyby of Titan on April 16. The spacecraft will get within 1,025 km (640 miles) of the moon's surface, and will get some extremely high resolution images. This image shows the regions that Cassini will photograph and analyze with its instruments.

One of the earliest stars has been found.

Astronomers from the Australian National University think they've found one of the earliest stars to have formed in the Universe. It's called HE 1327-2326, and it has the lowest levels of iron ever found in any star. Heavier elements like iron only form inside stars, so HE 1327-2326 could have formed before successive generations of stars had seeded the Universe. This star was observed using the Japanese Subaru 8-m telescope, and found to be twice as iron poor as the previous record holder.

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