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Ancient star helps scientists understand universe's origins

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian astronomers have found the oldest known star in the universe, a discovery that may help to resolve a long-standing discrepancy between observations and predictions of the Big Bang billions of years ago. Dr Stefan Keller, lead researcher at the Australian National University Research School, told Reuters his team had seen the chemical fingerprint of the "first star". After 11 years of searching, the star was discovered using the SkyMapper telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory.

Drill developed by Canadian firm for moon would kick-start space mining industry

MONTREAL - A space drill developed by a firm based in Sudbury, Ont., could be boring for water on the moon in less than five years — if everything goes according to plan. It would also signal the start of the space mining industry. Deltion Innovations Ltd. has announced it's been awarded a contract by the Canadian Space Agency to advance the design of its "DESTIN" drill and then test it in a moon-like environment on Earth.

Now for the weather on Luhman: Cloudy with a chance of molten iron rain

By Irene Klotz (Reuters) - You think the weather is bad on Earth lately. On Luhman 16B, a hybrid planet-star located 6.7 light years away, scientists say it's raining molten iron, research released on Wednesday shows. The first weather maps from this dim, gaseous object known as a brown dwarf, show a complex structure of patchy clouds, comprised of liquid iron and other minerals stewing in scorching temperatures, a pair of studies show.

S. Korea takes first step toward moon exploration

SEJONG, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea launched a program Monday for research and development of basic technologies aimed at exploring the moon. The program seeks to develop four major technologies required to build a spacecraft, rover, deep-space station and other equipment, according to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

Star survey observes star formation in Lagoon Nebula

Berlin, Jan 22 (EFE).- A new image of the Lagoon Nebula captured by the European Southern Observatory in Chile shows young star clusters and new stars forming in its interior. The image, taken by the Very Large Telescope installed at the Paranal Observatory, is part of the so-called VPHAS+ survey covering a much larger region of the sky than just the Milky Way, the ESO said in a communique.

Star survey observes star formation in Lagoon Nebula

Berlin, Jan 22 (EFE).- A new image of the Lagoon Nebula captured by the European Southern Observatory in Chile shows young star clusters and new stars forming in its interior. The image, taken by the Very Large Telescope installed at the Paranal Observatory, is part of the so-called VPHAS+ survey covering a much larger region of the sky than just the Milky Way, the ESO said in a communique.

Alarm call set to wake comet probe

An alarm clock in deep space was expected Monday to wake up the comet probe Rosetta ahead of a key phase in its 10-year mission, European scientists said. Rosetta's onboard computer was programmed to give the wakeup call at 1000 GMT, but it would take at least seven hours for mission control to get confirmation it has worked, they said. The craft was launched in 2004 on a trek of seven billion kilometres (4.3 billion miles) around the inner Solar System.

Planet found orbiting Sun-like star

Berlin, Jan 16 (EFE).- Three new exoplanets have been discovered orbiting stars in the Messier 67 star cluster and one of them circles a star that is nearly identical to the Sun, according to European Southern Observatory, or ESO, officials. The find, which was made using the ESO's new HARPS telescope instrument at the La Silla Observatory in Chile along with other telescopes around the world, is key because although more than 1,000 exoplanets have been found outside the Solar System to date, very few of them are located in star clusters.

Star masses also yield exoplanets

Astronomers on Wednesday reported a potentially rich source of exoplanets -- those in solar systems other than our own -- in stellar masses known as star clusters. Hundreds of exoplanets have been found since the first was spotted in 1995, but very few have been found inside star clusters, where hundreds of stars, often born at the same time, gather in the same neighbourhood of the galaxy. That rarity prompted experts to wonder if there was something in star clusters that disrupted the formation of planets from clumps of dust and gas.

U.S., Canada sign agreement to share data on space debris

(Reuters) - The United States and Canada have signed an agreement to share data on orbiting space debris, asteroids and other hazards to space flight, the U.S. military said on Friday. The agreement, signed on December 26 with Canada's Department of National Defence, permits an advanced exchange of data, the U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the American military's space operations, said in a statement.
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