November 7 News Items

Signature of Antimatter Detected in Lightning (Source: Science News)
Designed to scan the heavens thousands to billions of light-years beyond the solar system for gamma rays, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has also picked up a shocking vibe from Earth. During its first 14 months of operation, the flying observatory has detected 17 gamma-ray flashes associated with terrestrial storms — and some of those flashes have contained a surprising signature of antimatter.

During two recent lightning storms, Fermi recorded gamma-ray emissions of a particular energy that could have been produced only by the decay of energetic positrons, the antimatter equivalent of electrons. The observations are the first of their kind for lightning storms. (11/7)

Space Markets Post Strong Growth, Defy Economic Crisis (Source:
Markets for commercial communications satellites, Earth observation spacecraft and their launchers, all remarkably unaffected by the global economic crisis, continue to soar toward yearly double digit growth, generating billions in annual revenues.

Assessments by global market analysis firms are in close agreement about growth across 2008-2009, and for an upbeat picture to continue into 2010 and beyond. Companies out with new forecasts include Northern Sky Research, Euroconsult, Futron and Forecast International.

The latest payload numbers are being equaled on the launcher side. "The world market for expendable launch vehicles (ELVs) is [also] headed for a considerable market upturn," said John Edwards, senior analysts at Forecast International in comments about that firm's new payload forecast out to 2017. (11/7)

Plumes on Saturn's Moon May be a Sign of Life (Source: USA Today)
Saturn's geyser-spewing moon, Enceladus — visited by the international Cassini spacecraft on its closest flyby this week— presents planetary scientists with a geophysical locked-room mystery. How does something buried inside an ice ball only 311 miles wide, provide the pop to propel a plume 600 miles out of the moon's south pole?

"The biggest puzzle with Enceladus is where is the heat source," says Cassini scientist Linda Spilker of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission. "This tiny moon 'should' be frozen over like the others orbiting Saturn." And there is one even more compelling question.

"Is it possible for life to exist on Enceladus, the tiny icy satellite of Saturn," asked planetary scientists. Life on Enceladus, hidden in an interior lake or ocean suspected under its ice, has consumed planetary researchers since 2005, when Cassini first spotted the plume. Click here to view the article. (11/7)

ISS Mission Control Gives All Clear for Orbital Debris Threat (Source:
Ongoing analysis of the trajectory of a piece of space junk that was believed to pose a possible threat to the International Space Station shows the debris will not pass close enough to the lab complex to force the crew to seek refuge in their Soyuz lifeboats, a NASA official said late Friday. (11/7)

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