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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY

Kepler Telescope Studies Superflares

The Kepler space telescope has provided fresh insight on the colossal explosions that can afflict some stars. These enormous releases of magnetic energy--known as superflares--could damage the atmosphere of a nearby orbiting planet, putting at risk any lifeforms that might reside there.

Astronomers are searching for unseen moons around the planets that the Kepler mission's scientists have discovered. Researchers report that in their quest they have unexpectedly detected a hidden planet--and probably two--by using a technique that promises to aid the search for smaller planets much like Earth.

Researchers have now solidified Vesta's reputation as an archetype for understanding planetary evolution. Dawn, which began orbiting Vesta last July and lowered itself to within 200 kilometres of the asteroid over the following months, has gathered strong evidence that Vesta is indeed the source of the 'Vestoid' family of asteroids as well as the howardite-eucrite-diogenite meteorite family, which accounts for 6% of meteorites.

One of the least expected successes in London's West End last week was Stella by the Take the Space theatre company. The show was about female astronomers--notably the tiny, forgotten, angry Caroline Herschel.


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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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