SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY
SpaceX Dragon Splashdown 'Like Seeing Your Kid Come Home'
The privately launched SpaceX Dragon supply ship returned to Earth last week, ending a revolutionary nine-day voyage to the International Space Station with an old-fashioned splashdown in the Pacific. The unmanned capsule parachuted into the ocean about 500 miles off Mexico's Baja California.
In other space news, astronomers have developed a new technique for calculating the masses and ages of old stars based on the masses of the white dwarfs they have become.
The Guardian recounted how the transit of Venus in the 18th century allowed astronomers to measure accurately the size of the solar system for the first time.
And two Colorado companies are working to create a less-costly vehicle to send into the stratosphere. StarLight--a two-stage system with a planelike vehicle suspended below a massive gas-filled balloon--could be the answer to a longtime challenge.
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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays
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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