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Cosmologists Stephen Hawking. What happens to a black hole?
NASA announced today that liquid water once soaked the environment around Opportunity's landing site, raising the chances that life once existed on the Red Planet. This announcement came from Opportunity's detailed examination of a region of exposed rock on the side of the crater it landed in. By analyzing the rock with every instrument at its disposal, scientists now have conclusive evidence that liquid water once acted on this rock, changing its texture and chemistry. Opportunity's next job will be to determine if the rocky outcrop was actually formed by water, or if it's volcanic in origin. This means that there was probably a long period of time on Mars where the environment would have supported life.
In 1997, Cosmologists Stephen Hawking, Kip Thorne, and John Preskill made a bet about what happens to a black hole when material is sucked into it. Do the characteristics of the particles somehow change the black hole so that a record of information is maintained? Or is all the information destroyed? A new solution based on string theory predicts that material sucked into the black hole is preserved as a tangle of strings, which fills its core to its surface. In theory, a black hole could be traced back to its original condition by following the trail of material consumed. Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne need to pay up.
To help celebrate the launch of Rosetta, the European Southern Observatory released a picture of the spacecraft's target: Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. At a distance of over 6 billion kilometres, the Comet is just a dim spec (magnitude 22.5) to even the powerful 3.5 metre New Technology Telescope. The telescope took a series of 45 exposures of the comet, which was moving against the starry background, which is why the stars have trails.
After a year of delays, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft finally lifted off this morning from Kourou, French Guiana on board an Ariane 5 rocket. The successful launch begins the 10-year journey for Rosetta to catch up with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. But first, the spacecraft will need to make three flybys of Earth, and one of Mars. If everything goes well, Rosetta will become the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, and deliver a lander to the surface.
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