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Vote Now! Best Space Stories of the Week - April 15, 2012

Cracking a Mystery: Space Walnut Created by Moons Crashing
A ridge that follows the equator of Saturn's moon Iapetus gives it the appearance of a giant walnut. The ridge, photographed in 2004 by the Cassini spacecraft, is 100 kilometers (62 miles) wide and at times 20 kilometers (12 miles) high. (The peak of Mount Everest, by comparison, is 5.5 miles above sea level.) Scientists are debating how the ridge might have formed.
(Image: © NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Full story.)

Exploring Auroras, Search for Life on Mars and Sun's Sibling Stars

Roger M. Marty

From an expedition to explore auroras to sun's sibling stars, it's been a busy week in space. Vote for the week's best space story.

FIRST STOP: Sun's Sibling Stars Could Host Cousins of Earth Life

Sun's Sibling Stars Could Host Cousins of Earth Life

David A. Aguilar (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

Earth may have seeded life on other planets if DNA traveled from our world to another via an impacting asteroid that later landed on an alien planet. Astronomers are searching for siblings of the sun -- stars born from the same parent star cluster -- that might have planets impregnated with Earth life. [Full Story]

NEXT: Mystery of Saturn's Walnut Moon Cracked?

Mystery of Saturn's Walnut Moon Cracked?

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The giant ridge around the middle of Saturn moon's Iapetus that makes it resemble a gigantic walnut may have essentially formed as a hug from a dead moon, researchers say. [Full Story]

NEXT: Distant Galaxies Confirm Accelerating Growth of Universe, Dark Energy

Space Station Crew Set to Welcome 1st Private Cargo Ship

NASA TV

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are preparing for the historic arrival of a privately built robot cargo ship, the first ever to visit the orbiting laboratory, later this month. [Full Story]

NEXT: North Korea Long-Range Rocket Launch Fails: Reports

Distant Galaxies Confirm Accelerating Growth of Universe, Dark Energy

Masamune Oguri, Naohisa Inada et al.

The pesky reality that the universe's expansion is accelerating — an observation that prompted astronomers to invoke an unknown entity called dark energy to explain it — has been further confirmed by new measurements. [Full Story]

NEXT: Space Station Crew Set to Welcome 1st Private Cargo Ship

North Korea Long-Range Rocket Launch Fails: Reports

Analytical Graphics, Inc.

A defiant North Korea attempted to launch its new long-range rocket early Friday despite international warnings to stand down, but the vehicle failed to reach space and apparently crashed into the sea, according to press reports. [Full Story]

NEXT: Pulsing Stars Could Probe Space-Time Around Black Holes

Pulsing Stars Could Probe Space-Time Around Black Holes

NASA

A new study demonstrates that pulsars found around the Milky Way’s black hole, Sgr A*, could permit a detailed investigation of the spacetime of the supermassive black hole. The constant flash of a single pulsar could provide opportunities to test general relativity. [Full Story]

NEXT: How NASA Moves Space Shuttles: The Ultimate Piggyback Ride

How NASA Moves Space Shuttles: The Ultimate Piggyback Ride

NASA/Jim Ross

A look at the complicated mechanics of transporting the retired space shuttles, atop Boeing jets, to their future museum homes. [Full Story]

NEXT: Billionaire Elon Musk Opens Up About Private Spaceflight Challenges

Billionaire Elon Musk Opens Up About Private Spaceflight Challenges

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk discusses the challenges of preparing for the company's upcoming flight of the robotic Dragon capsule to the International Space Station. [Full Story]

NEXT: Search for Life Guides NASA's New Mars Mission Plan

Search for Life Guides NASA's New Mars Mission Plan

The Viking Project/NASA

NASA's new Mars exploration strategy will be guided by an old goal: searching for signs of life on the Red Planet. [Full Story]

NEXT: Comet Demolition Derby Around Star Surprises Scientists

Comet Demolition Derby Around Star Surprises Scientists

ESA/Herschel/PACS/Bram Acke, KU Leuven, Belgium

A young star that is home to at least one alien planet is also ringed by a vast, dusty cloud of comets, like our own solar system. But there's a big difference: There may be as many as 83 trillion comets there, with collisions destroying thousands each day, a new study suggests. [Full Story]

NEXT: Now Boarding: Inside NASA's Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft

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