SpaceNews: October 22, 2015

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Russia starts moon base collaboration with European Space Agency

COULD humans live on the moon? The European and Russian space agencies are planning a trip to find out. ESA has announced it will contribute a drill and other instruments to Roscosmos’s Luna 27 lander, an uncrewed craft set to touch down on the moon in 2020. The probe will search for water and other materials that could eventually support a settlement. Russia’s return to the moon, following the end of Soviet exploration in the 1970s, has been in the works since the late 1990s, but partnerships with China, Japan and India fell through.

Now Russia has backing from Europe. The new head of ESA, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, has called for a collaboration to make a settlement on the moon, modelled after the International Space Station. If this first mission is a success, it could be followed by lunar rovers and a mission to bring samples of moon rock back to Earth.

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Space archaeologists search for dead alien civilizations

The peculiar behavior of KIC 8462852—a star 1,500 light-years from Earth that is prone to irregular dimming—has prompted widespread speculation on the Internet that it is host to an “alien megastructure,” perhaps a vast array of orbiting solar panels.

Scientists have pointed out various natural, non-alien phenomena that could be causing the stellar light show, but the SETI crowd isn’t taking any chances. Astronomers have begun using a radio telescope, the Allen Telescope Array, to detect possible signals in the vicinity of KIC 8462852.

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‘Death Star’ vaporizes its own planet: 1st evidence

The planet-destroying Death Star from “Star Wars” may be fictional, but a star at the end of its life and only a bit bigger than Earth could be its real-world twin: The star is currently destroying and disintegrating an orbiting planet bit by bit.

The ill-fated planetary body and its debris are about the size of Texas or the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest asteroid in Earth’s solar system, and it will be fully destroyed within about a million years. Scientists watching the object disintegrate will get the best-ever view of a solar system’s death, researchers said — and a look at the likely future of our own system.

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