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Vote Now! Top Space Stories of the Week - Jan. 8, 2012

Private Spaceflight, Habitable Moons and NASA's New Year Resolutions

gilderm | sxc.hu

Private Spaceflight takes shape in 2012 as we search for signs of life near alien planets in just two of several big stories in space for the week.

Take a look back at the biggest space stores of the last week of 2011, and vote now for your favorite of the bunch!

FIRST STOP: NASA Moon Probes Start New Year in Lunar Orbit

NASA Moon Probes Start New Year in Lunar Orbit

NASA/JPL-Caltech

A pair of NASA spacecraft are ringing in the new year in grand style, with both now successfully circling the moon after journeying through space for more than three months.

The Grail-B probe entered lunar orbit today (Jan. 1) after firing its main engine at 5:05 p.m. EST (2205 GMT) in a 40-minute-long orbital-insertion burn, NASA officials said. It joins its twin spacecraft, Grail-A, which arrived at the moon yesterday evening (Dec. 31) after completing a similar maneuver. [Full Story]

NEXT: Looking Ahead: 2012 Pivotal for Private Spaceflight

Looking Ahead: 2012 Pivotal for Private Spaceflight

Spaceport America

After the rise of private spaceflight continued step by step in 2011, the year ahead should be a pivotal one. Several leading space groups will take center stage to showcase their wares. [Full Story]

NEXT: Strange Crystals Reveal Rock to be Ancient Meteorite

Strange Crystals Reveal Rock to be Ancient Meteorite

Paul Steinhardt, Princeton University

The surprise finding of quasi-crystals in a rock fragment may indicate an early-solar-system birth. The unusual array of these crystals has only been seen in manmade creations and never before in nature. [Full Story]

NEXT: NASA Inquiry Halts Sale of $388,375 Apollo 13 Checklist, Other Space Artifacts

NASA Inquiry Halts Sale of $388,375 Apollo 13 Checklist, Other Space Artifacts

Heritage Auction Galleries

A NASA inquiry has stalled the sale of a checklist from the famed Apollo 13 moon mission used by astronaut Jim Lovell. The checklist sold for $388,375 in December. [Full Story]

NEXT: The Hunt Is on for Habitable Moons Around Alien Planets

The Hunt Is on for Habitable Moons Around Alien Planets

David A. Aguilar, CfA

Rocky moons that orbit gas giant planet and reside in the habitable zone of their star could contain the seeds of life. Thanks to new research, finding those moons just got a little easier. [Full Story]

NEXT: On Saturn Moon Titan, Weather Report Brings Chance of Methane Rain

On Saturn Moon Titan, Weather Report Brings Chance of Methane Rain

NASA, JPL

Scientists have used simulations to predict Earth's weather have taken place for years, but now some researchers are using them to forecast rainfall on Saturn's moon Titan. [Full Story]

NEXT: Doomed Russian Mars Probe May Crash to Earth on Jan. 15

Doomed Russian Mars Probe May Crash to Earth on Jan. 15

Michael Carroll

Russia's failed Mars probe Phobos-Grunt, which has been stuck in Earth orbit since its Nov. 8 launch, could come crashing back to Earth next week, experts say. [Full Story]

NEXT: 2012 Apocalypse FAQ: Why the World Won't End

2012 Apocalypse FAQ: Why the World Won't End

gilderm | sxc.hu

NASA scientists answer frequently asked questions about Dec. 21, 2012, and why the world won't end. [Full Story]

NEXT: Fight to Save US Military Satellite Ends in Remarkable Rescue

Fight to Save US Military Satellite Ends in Remarkable Rescue

Lockheed Martin

The U.S. military's newest ultra-secure communications satellite, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency 1 (AEHF 1), finally reached a circular geosynchronous orbit, after a dramatic rescue that spanned 14 months and required nearly 500 maneuvers. [Full Story]

NEXT: Space Station Crew Excited for 1st Private Spaceship Visit

Space Station Crew Excited for 1st Private Spaceship Visit

SpaceX

The astronauts living on the International Space Station (ISS) are gearing up for a milestone event in February — the first visit of a commercial spaceship to the orbiting outpost. [Full Story]

NEXT: Space Station Crew Excited for 1st Private Spaceship Visit

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