Science and Space

How to make nanotubes. Microscopic carbon tubes - or nanotubes - were manufactured in a novel way be researchers in China. Nanotubes just one micron long and under 50 nm. in diameter were made by heating plant materials at 250 degrees Celsius (just above the burning point of paper, which is 234 Celsius, or, famously, 451 Fahrenheit) and then heating the resulting residue at some 600 Celsius. The procedure is repeated up to 50 times. The process was developed by Enbo Wang of Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China. Wang used field grass, trees, and a certain wild herb in the experiment. This development is interesting enough by itself, but PhysicsWeb wins the award for best science headline of the day.

Spitzer telescope catches reflected light from supernova. Cassiopeia A, the youngest known supernova remnant in our galaxy, exploded 325 years ago. New data from the Spitzer Space Telescope indicate that Cas A let out one last blast of radiation, just 50 years ago. Photographs that appeared to show dust moving out from Cas A at the speed of light (which we all know is impossible) turned out to reveal an expanding circle of infrared light emitted by the star. Full story at Scientific American.

Mars rovers hit 1,000-sol mark. The planetary rovers Spirit and Opportunity continue to explore Mars more than 1,000 sols (Martian days) into their mission, according to Space.com.

Larger, Earth-type planet discovered. The smallest extrasolar planet yet detected was announced today, reports Space.com: 'Astronomers announced today the discovery of the smallest planet so far found outside of our solar system. About seven-and-a-half times as massive as Earth, and about twice as wide, this new extrasolar planet may be the first rocky world ever found orbiting a star similar to our own. "This is the smallest extrasolar planet yet detected and the first of a new class of rocky terrestrial planets," said team member Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "It's like Earth's bigger cousin." Currently around 150 extrasolar planets are known, and the number continues to grow. But most of these far-off worlds are large gas giants like Jupiter. Only recently have astronomers started detecting smaller massed objects ...' Full article at the link.