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Galaxies which bend and focus the light.
Scientists from Cardiff University believe that comets striking the Earth could be responsible for transporting bacteria into space, potentially seeding the Galaxy with life. When a Comet hits the Earth, the "splash back" throws material back into space containing organisms; many would die from heat and radiation, but there's good evidence that many would survive. As the Earth would leave a trail of bacteria behind it as it followed the Sun around the Milky Way - a journey that takes 240 million years. These bacteria could infect any number of worlds, and inevitably spread life across the galaxy.
Out of the dark and dusty Cosmos comes an unusual valentine - a stellar nursery resembling a shimmering pink rosebud. This cluster of newborn stars, called a reflection nebula, was captured by state-of-the-art Infrared detectors onboard NASA's new Spitzer Space Telescope, formerly known as the Space Infrared telescope Facility.
The Valentine's Day image is available online at http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu and http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA05266.
Officials announced today that they have given up search for the Beagle 2 lander, which was supposed to have landed on Mars on December 25, 2003. The spacecraft stopped communicating when it entered the planet's atmosphere, and months of searching with several Mars orbiters and Earth-based radio Telescopes have failed to turn up any signal. The ESA and UK Science Minister Lord Sainsbury said that an inquiry will begin shortly to look into the failure of the lander.
Astronomers have found several examples of Galaxies which bend and focus the light from a more distant object, like a quasar. These are called gravitational lenses and they can reveal details that would just be a smudge to the most powerful telescopes. A recently discovered lensing Galaxy called PMN J1632-0033 is unusual because the light from a distant quasar passes so close to the heart of the Galaxy that the focused image can reveal information about the supermassive black hole in PMN J1632-0033.
The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft was mated to launch hardware that will eventually be connected to the top of its Ariane 5, in preparation for its February 26 launch. If all goes well, Rosetta will blast off from the space centre in Kourou, French Guiana and begin its long journey to meet up with Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. The launch will give the 3,000 kg spacecraft enough velocity to make its escape trajectory, but it will still need to make two gravity assisting flybys of Earth, and one past Mars to get enough speed to reach the comet.
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