Random Linkage 12/12/09
'New views of Saturn’s moon Iapetus accompany papers that detail how reddish dust swept up on the moon’s orbit around Saturn and migrating ice can explain the bizarre, yin-yang-patterned surface.'
Phobos and Deimos Together At Last!
'ESA's Mars Express orbiter took images last month of Mars two moons, Phobos and Deimos. This is the first time the moons have been imaged together in high resolution, but as Emily Lakdawalla points out on Planetary Blog, not the first time the two have been imaged together: the Spirit rover did it back in 2005! But these new image definitely provide a ‘wow’ factor, as well as helping to validate and refine existing orbit models of the two moons.'
Super-Massive Black Holes Observed at the Center of Galaxies
'An international team of scientists has observed four super-massive black holes at the center of galaxies, which may provide new information on how these central black hole systems operate.'
Galaxy Collision Switches on Black Hole
'This composite image of data from three different telescopes shows an ongoing collision between two galaxies, NGC 6872 and IC 4970. X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is shown in purple, while Spitzer Space Telescope's infrared data is red and optical data from ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) is colored red, green and blue.'
Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Turns Wheels, Opportunity Rests at Rare Martian Rock
'The Mars Exploration Rovers managed to make history and uncover history in November – and that put both Spirit and Opportunity in the planetary exploration spotlight during the 71st month of an overland expedition that was supposed to be a three-month tour.'
(Opportunity roves on, but it looks like poor Spirit may be permanently stuck now it's lost use of another wheel.)
Bacteria Engineered to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Liquid Fuel
'Global climate change has prompted efforts to drastically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas produced by burning fossil fuels.
'In a new approach, researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have genetically modified a cyanobacterium to consume carbon dioxide and produce the liquid fuel isobutanol, which holds great potential as a gasoline alternative. The reaction is powered directly by energy from sunlight, through photosynthesis.'
Dinosaurs diversified before spreading around the world
'Fossils found in the US state of New Mexico are providing strong evidence that dinosaurs originated in what is now South America, and had already evolved into three main groups before spreading around the world.'