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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY

Space Station Enters Research Phase Under Criticism

After more than a dozen years and at least $100 billion in construction costs, NASA says the International Space Station finally is ready to become the orbiting laboratory that the agency envisioned more than two decades ago.

In other space news, one of Europe's main contributions to the James Webb Space Telescope has been completed and is ready to ship to the U.S. The Mid-Infrared Instrument will gather key data as the $9 billion observatory seeks to identify the first starlight in the universe.

There is a new wrinkle in the search for life elsewhere in the universe. Scientists say a previously little-considered heating effect called tidal heating could shrink estimates of the habitable zone of the Milky Way's most numerous class of stars--'M' or red dwarfs--by up to one half.

The Fermi space telescope has recorded hundreds of gamma-ray bursts, flashes of light that, for just a few seconds or minutes, are the brightest objects in the universe. And now the telescope is yielding data that is starting to explain the mechanisms that unleash these beam-like jets of light.


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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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