News: 15 – 21 April 2013

NASA finds ‘super Earth size’ planets in two new planetary systems

More exciting news on the exoplanet front! NASA’s Kepler mission reported finding two planetary systems that have a number of ‘super Earth size’ planets in the ‘habitable zone’.

Stephen Hawking: Science Rockstar

Stephen Hawking told a packed audience at California Institute of Technology that the Big Bang didn’t need God. Why the rockstar? Well – the 500 free tickets to the lecture were snapped up almost immediately, with people queuing up 12 hours for about a quarter mile, to secure a ticket. Additionally when tickets ran out, an auditorium was set with a big screen to view the lecture so that the hundreds of people that missed out on the free tickets could watch the lecture.  Science FTW.

What to do with our space junk?

One suggestion is to harpoon it, drag it into low Earth orbit and push it towards Earth so that it will burn up safely upon re-entry into the atmosphere. Seriously.

Giant Telescope gets ‘go’ for construction.

Construction of the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT), atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, has been given the green light by planning officials. Work will probably start in April 2014 and finish in 2021. The TMT joins thirteen other telescopes atop Mauna Kea, and will out muscle the ‘puny’ twin Keck 10 metre telescopes.

Space industry creates growth and jobs

Ireland was in the news this week after it was revealed that the Emerald Isle is setting an example of how space technologies can contribute to economic growth and recovery.  Ireland’s membership of ESA is proving useful as more than 40 Irish companies and research institutes work with ESA, to generate more than €10 million in contracts every year.  Governments all around the world are taking note.

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