By Steven Scheer JERUSALEM (Reuters) - It's only the size of a dishwasher and weighs as much as giant panda, but its inventors are hoping this spacecraft will go where no other Israeli vessel has gone before - to the moon. Working on a shoestring budget, the Israeli scientists and engineers building the shuttle - temporarily named "Sparrow" - believe it will land on the moon by the end of 2015, a feat only the United States, Russia and China have managed so far. The landing will be the toughest task in the Sparrow's mission, not least because of the moon's many mountains and craters, said Yariv Bash, an electronic engineer and the founder of SpaceIL, the group building the spacecraft. The $20 million prize will go to the first team to land a spacecraft on the moon, make it jump 500 meters and transmit images and video back to earth.
After traveling millions of years, some eventually landed on Earth, becoming the biggest of three main types of meteorites hailing from the Red Planet. Now researchers say they have pinpointed the source of those Martian meteorites classified as the "shergottites." The finding, if confirmed, would give scientists fresh insights into Mars' history and evolution. "If one were able to say, 'Oh, this Martian meteorite is from exactly this spot on Mars,' then that would have significant added value to what you could get out of it," said Carl Agee, meteorite curator and director of University of New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics. University of Oslo planetary scientist Stephanie Werner and colleagues say they have done just that.
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Patsy Cline's classic country song "I Fall to Pieces," has nothing on this one. The rocky asteroid, named P/2013 R3, was one of the innumerable objects populating the crowded asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, roughly three times further away from the sun than Earth. This time, however, scientists first noticed the dramatic events using ground-based telescopes in Arizona and Hawaii and then got a better look using the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. "After looking at the asteroid belt for a couple of hundred years - the first one was discovered in 1801 - to find a new thing like this is really exciting," David Jewitt, a UCLA astronomer who led the research, said in a telephone interview.
By Naomi O'Leary ROME (Reuters) - Sicilian amateur scientists have launched a model cannolo, a cream-stuffed pastry roll symbolic of the Italian island, into the stratosphere, capturing bizarre images of the dessert flying far above the earth. The 'Sicilian Space Program', which cost a rough total of 350 euros, had symbolic importance as well as being a scientific feat, the three natives of the island town of Enna behind it told Reuters. We wanted to lift up Sicily in our own way," said filmmaker Fabio Leone, 34, who recorded the project with Antonella Barbera, 38. It rose to at least 29,768 meters according to Paolo Capasso, 37, a computer technician responsible for the careful calculations behind the launch on February 2.
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - A supermassive black hole inside a distant quasar spins at about 336 million mph (540 million kph) or roughly half the speed of light, according to research published on Wednesday in the journal Nature. Scientists have measured the spin rates of black holes before but never one so far away. The newly measured black hole is inside a quasar some 6 billion light years from Earth. A black hole is a region of space so packed with matter that not even photons of light can escape its gravitational grip.