Project Icarus: Starship Probe to Explore New Worlds


Project Icarus

Never mind going to the moon, Mars or asteroids — let’s send a probe out of the Solar System, to an Earth-like planet orbiting another star. That’s the idea behind Project Icarus, dreamed up by the British Interplanetary Society and the Tau Zero Foundation. They’d like to send a probe traveling at 12% lightspeed, reaching another solar system such as Bernard’s Star, six light years away, in about 50 years.


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Space Telescope Finds Five New Planets

All five of the new planets are bigger than Neptune, and four are more than twice the size of Jupiter

Nasa’s new planet-hunting telescope has discovered its first five worlds beyond our Solar System.

Numerous planets have been found before by other telescopes, such as Hubble, but the sole mission of the Kepler observatory – launched last year – has been to find potential ‘Earths’ elsewhere in our galaxy.

Unfortunately life is unlikely to survive on the new planets as they are thought to generate hellish heat. Estimated temperatures of the worlds range from 1,200 to 1,650 degrees Celsius, hotter than molten lava.

The planets, termed exoplanets because they are outside out Solar System, range in size from similar to Neptune to more than twice as large as Jupiter, the largest in the Solar System. They have orbits ranging from 3.3 to 4.9 days.


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Does A Twin Earth Exist?

Does A Twin Earth Exist?

Artist’s conception shows a hypothetical twin Earth orbiting a Sun-like star.

Does a twin Earth exist somewhere in our galaxy? Astronomers are getting closer and closer to finding an Earth-sized planet in an Earth-like orbit. NASA’s Kepler spacecraft just launched to find such worlds. Once the search succeeds, the next questions driving research will be: Is that planet habitable? Does it have an Earth-like atmosphere? Answering those questions will not be easy.

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Time’s Top 10 Scientific Discoveries

Time’s Top 10 Scientific DiscoveriesTime’s Top 10 Scientific Discoveries 

1. Large Hadron Collider

Good news! The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – the massive particle accelerator straddling the Swiss-French border – didn’t destroy the world! The bad news: The contraption didn’t really work either. In September, the 17-mile collider was switched on for the first time, putting to rest the febrile webchatter that the machine would create an artificial black hole capable of swallowing the planet or at least a sizeable piece of Europe – a bad day no matter what. No lucid observer ever thought that would really happen, but what they did expect was that the LHC would operate as advertised, recreating conditions not seen since instants after the Big Bang and giving physicists a peek into those long-vanished moments. Things looked good at first, until a helium leak caused the collider to shut down after less than two weeks. Repairs are underway and the particles should begin spinning again sometime in June.

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Dubai Metro: The World’s Most Advanced Urban Rail System

Dubai Metro: The World’s Most Advanced Urban Rail System

A significant improvement to Dubai’s growing traffic problems,
but opening in 2009 is doubtful

The Dubai Metro will be a driverless, fully automated metro network under construction in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai. It is aimed to be one of the most advanced urban rail systems in the world and will be the catalyst for tourism, financial and economic growth. (Pics)


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Scientists Directly Observe Three Distant Planets

Scientists Directly Observe Three Distant Planets 

 The Hubble Space Telescope captured a fuzzy image of the planet, known as Fomalhaut b, which is no more than a white speck in the dust ring that surrounds the star.

A little more of the universe has been pried out of the shadows. Two groups of astronomers have taken the first pictures of what they say – and other astronomers agree – are most likely planets going around other stars.

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World’s Millionaire Population Growing Rapidly

 World’s Millionaire Population Growing Rapidly

Those of you who aren’t millionaires yet, perhaps working harder is not the answer

The number of people around the globe with at least $1 million in assets grew 6% last year to 10.1 million, according to the 12th annual World Wealth Report released Tuesday by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini Group, a consulting firm.

That means an additional 600,000 people became millionaires or richer even as problems tied to the U.S. credit crisis spread in the second half of the year.


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