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Solar System formed from gas and dust.
A group of scientists from Washington University in St. Louis found nine specks of silicate stardust inside a primitive meteorite, after examining more than 159,000 particles. This is an important discovery, because it tells researchers that the early solar system formed from gas and dust, and not in a hot Solar nebula - until now, these silicate particles had only been found in interplanetary dust. The team used a special mass spectrometer to analyze the composition of individual grains in the meteorite, searching for particles which had to be formed in stars.
Tom Hanks' production company, Playtone, is set to create a new IMAX film based on the Apollo missions. The film will be called "Magnificent Desolation", and is supported by NASA and sponsored by Lockheed Martin. It will take audiences to the Ocean of Storms, the Fra Mauro Highlands, the Sea of Tranquility and the Taurus Littrow Valley. The previous space-based IMAX film, "Space Station", grossed over $70 million at the box office and it still playing in theatres.
The US House of Representatives today approved bill H.R. 3752, The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004. This bill gives the FAA authority to license commercial suborbital launches, such as the vehicles being developed by groups competing to win the X-Prize. This should make it easier for companies to test new kinds of reusable suborbital vehicles. The bill will now go to Senate for consideration before it becomes law.
Using data from NASA's Aqua satellite, scientists have found that the smoke from burning vegetation can inhibit the formation of clouds. Until now, scientists thought that smoke particles could serve to cool the planet by shading the surface and reflecting light back into space, but this effect seems less than estimated. In fact, wherever there's smoke, cloud cover is significantly reduced, so light reaches the surface and is absorbed by the Earth, creating a warming effect.
British Astronomers have used a radio telescope called the Very Small Array to probe the cosmic background radiation; an afterglow from the Big Bang that gives insights into the rapid expansion of the early Universe. By combining their results with data from the WMAP satellite, they were able to see how the expansion went when the universe was only 10(-35) seconds old. They found that temperature and density varied much wider than traditional estimates.
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