November 18th, 2011
05:45 PM ET

Test confirms particles appear to travel faster than the speed of light

(CNN) – Travel faster than the speed of light? Really?

Back in September, scientists found that tiny particles called neutrinos appeared to do just that, defying Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

It could be a fluke, but now the same experiment has replicated the result. It’s not hard proof yet, though; other groups still need to confirm these findings.

Physicists with the OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus) experiment said in September that neutrinos sent about 454 miles (730 kilometers) from CERN in Switzerland arrived at Italy’s Gran Sasso National Laboratory a fraction of a second sooner than they should have according to Einstein’s theory.


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Filed under: Discoveries • News • Science Education
New topographic map of Earth's moon released
November 18th, 2011
11:54 AM ET

New topographic map of Earth's moon released

Using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, scientists have created the highest resolution topographic map of the moon in existence.

The map shows the surface shape and features over nearly the entire moon, according to researchers. It was composed from 69,000 stereo models from the Wide Angle Camera aboard the LRO.

This map covers 98.2% of the lunar surface; persistent shadows near the poles prevent a complete stereo map at the highest latitudes, NASA said. But another instrument on the LRO, called the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), is very good at mapping at the poles, and can be used to fill in the gaps.

The colors on the map represent altitude.

Because of the limitations of instruments on previous spacecraft, a global map of the moon’s topography at high resolution has not been possible until now.

“Our new topographic view of the moon provides the data set that lunar scientists have waited for since the Apollo era,” according to a statement from Mark Robinson, principal investigator of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera at Arizona State University in Tempe.

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Filed under: In Space • News
November 18th, 2011
10:34 AM ET


Every Friday, @CNNLightYears will suggest interesting and exciting space and science Twitter accounts to follow.

To help you keep up with the news on solar flares, coronal mass ejections and other news from our Sun, @CNNLightYears suggests you follow the trio of accounts related to NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Managed by Goddard Spaceflight Center, @NASA_SDO posts the latest news about solar activity, straight from the source.

SDO has a mascot, @Camilla_SDO, affectionately known as the "space chicken." Camilla Corona SDO's goal is to spread the news about the SDO mission through education and outreach activities.

The newest SDO account is @NASA_SDO_EDU, an account dedicated to supporting science teachers and others interested in STEM (science, technology, education and math) education.

You can also follow Twitter updates from @CNNLightYears.

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Filed under: News
Opinion: Make manned space flight great again
Ronald Garan moves a failed pump module from the orbiting space station to the shuttle Atlantis last July.
November 18th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

Opinion: Make manned space flight great again

Editor's note: Madhu Thangavelu is space projects director of the Cal-Earth Institute and a fellow at NASA's Institute of Advanced Concepts. He is an advisory board member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics with a focus on the design of complex space projects, including space stations and exploratory missions. He also teaches at the University of Southern California.
By Madhu Thangavelu, Special to CNN

Four decades after the first man walked on the moon, we continue to live in a time of great technological and social opportunity. And yet, without vision, lacking direction and in an apparent state of ennui, human space programs are withering around the world.

The new economic powerhouses of China and India show great promise, but I suspect it will take those great nations years of infrastructure building before they can pull off any major feats in this arena, while established rivals-turned-partners like Russia and the U.S. seem to have difficulties envisioning and executing great and exciting new missions.



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