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Mars: The planet that lost an ocean's worth of water
on Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:04:47 EST:
A primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth's Arctic Ocean, and covered a greater portion of the planet's surface than the Atlantic Ocean does on Earth, according to new results published today. An international team of scientists used ESO's Very Large Telescope, along with instruments at the W. M. Keck Observatory and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, to monitor the atmosphere of the planet and map out the properties of the water in different parts of Mars's atmosphere over a six-year period. These new maps are the first of their kind.
Hubble sees supernova split into four images by cosmic lens
on Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:04:37 EST:
Astronomers have spotted for the first time a distant supernova split into four images. The multiple images of the exploding star are caused by the powerful gravity of a foreground elliptical galaxy embedded in a massive cluster of galaxies.
Single site on Mars advanced for 2016 NASA lander
on Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:11:11 EST:
NASA's next mission to Mars, scheduled to launch one year from today to examine the Red Planet's deep interior and investigate how rocky planets like Earth evolved, now has one specific site under evaluation as the best place to land and deploy its science instruments.
Einstein put to the test: Satellite mission on dark energy and theory of gravitation
on Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:03:46 EST:
Physicists have gained new insights into dark energy and the theory of gravitation by analyzing data from the "Planck" satellite mission of the European Space Agency (ESA). Their results demonstrate that the standard model of cosmology remains an excellent description of the universe. Yet when the Planck data is combined with other astronomical observations, several deviations emerge. Further studies must determine whether these anomalies are due to measurement uncertainties or undiscovered physical correlations, which would also challenge Einstein's theory of gravitation. Thus, the analysis of the Planck data gives major impetus for research during future space missions.
Space technology investigates large-scale changes to Africa's climate
on Thu, 05 Mar 2015 08:11:38 EST:
Researchers have mapped climate and human impacts on Africa's land resources using satellite mapping technology.
Breakthrough in energy harvesting could power 'life on Mars'
on Thu, 05 Mar 2015 08:11:34 EST:
Martian colonists could use an innovative new technique to harvest energy from carbon dioxide thanks to new research. The research proposes a new kind of engine for producing energy based on the Leidenfrost effect -- a phenomenon which happens when a liquid comes into near contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point. This effect is commonly seen in the way water appears to skitter across the surface of a hot pan, but it also applies to solid carbon dioxide, commonly known as dry ice.
Rapid changes observed in a cometā€™s plasma tail
on Thu, 05 Mar 2015 08:06:00 EST:
Images from a December 2013 observation of the comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) reveal clear details about rapidly changing activity in that cometā€™s plasma tail. Astronomers zoomed in to within 0.8 million kilometers of the cometā€™s plasma tail, resulted in gaining precious knowledge regarding the extreme activity in that tail as the comet neared the Sun.
Galactic 'rain' explains why some galaxies are better at creating stars
on Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:26:19 EST:
Some of the galaxies in our universe are veritable star nurseries. For example, our own Milky Way produces, on average, at least one new star every year. Others went barren years ago, now producing few if any new stars. Why that happens is a question that has dogged astronomers for years. But now, more than 20 years of research has culminated in what might be the answer to that elusive question.
Why isn't the universe as bright as it should be?
on Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:15:00 EST:
A handful of new stars are born each year in the Milky Way, while many more blink on across the universe. But astronomers have observed that galaxies should be churning out millions more stars, based on the amount of interstellar gas available. This study explains why galaxies don't churn out as many stars as they should.
Planet 'reared' by four parent stars
on Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:22:37 EST:
Growing up as a planet with more than one parent star has its challenges. Though the planets in our solar system circle just one star -- our sun -- other more distant planets, called exoplanets, can be reared in families with two or more stars. Researchers wanting to know more about the complex influences of multiple stars on planets have come up with two new case studies: a planet found to have three parents, and another with four.
Testing to diagnose power event in Mars rover
on Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:29:29 EST:
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is expected to remain stationary for several days of engineering analysis following an onboard fault-protection action on Feb. 27 that halted a process of transferring sample material between devices on the rover's robotic arm.
Far from home: Wayward star cluster is both tiny and distant
on Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:32:20 EST:
Like the lost little puppy that wanders too far from home, astronomers have found an unusually small and distant group of stars that seems oddly out of place. The cluster, made of only a handful of stars, is located far away, in the Milky Way's 'suburbs.' It is located where astronomers have never spotted such a small cluster of stars before.
Pressure is on to find the cause for vision changes in space
on Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:21:54 EST:
The human body is approximately 60 percent fluids. During spaceflight, these fluids shift to the upper body and move across blood vessel and cell membranes differently than they normally do on Earth. One of the goals of the Fluid Shifts investigation, launching to the International Space Station this spring, is to test the relationship between those fluid shifts and a pattern NASA calls visual impairment and intracranial pressure syndrome, or VIIP. It involves changes in vision and the structure of the eyes and indirect signs of increased pressure in the brain, and investigators say more than half of American astronauts have experienced it during long spaceflights.
Cloudy, with a wisp of liquid rock: Clouds around exoplanets analyzed
on Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:17:34 EST:
Meteorologists sometimes struggle to accurately predict the weather here on Earth, but now we can find out how cloudy it is on planets outside our solar system, thanks to new research.
New data on the nature of dark matter
on Tue, 03 Mar 2015 07:53:22 EST:
Recent research contributes to the effort to determine the nature of dark matter, one of the most important mysteries in physics. As indirect evidence provided by its gravitational effects, dark matter amounts to more than 80% of the universe.
Freeze! Watching alloys change from liquid to solid could lead to better metals
on Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:11:13 EST:
If you put a camera in the ice machine and watched water turn into ice, the process would look simple. But the mechanism behind liquids turning to solids is actually quite complex, and understanding it better could improve design and production of metals. A recent investigation aboard the International Space Station contributed to that understanding.
OSIRIS-REx mission successfully completes system integration review
on Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:11:12 EST:
This week marked the completion of an important step on the path to spacecraft assembly, test, and launch operations for the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer or OSIRIS-REx mission.
Core work: Iron vapor gives clues to formation of Earth and moon
on Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:31:19 EST:
One of the world's most powerful radiation sources provides scientists clues about Earth's formation and how iron vaporizes.
Old-looking galaxy in a young universe: Astronomers find dust in the early universe
on Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:29:25 EST:
Dust plays an extremely important role in the universe -- both in the formation of planets and new stars. But the earliest galaxies had no dust, only gas. Now an international team of astronomers has discovered a dust-filled galaxy from the very early universe. The discovery demonstrates that galaxies were very quickly enriched with dust particles containing elements such as carbon and oxygen, which could form planets.
NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival
on Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:27:26 EST:
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned new images captured on approach to its historic orbit insertion at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will be the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet when it enters orbit around Ceres on Friday, March 6.
Latest selfie from NASA Mars rover shows wide context
on Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:11:11 EST:
A sweeping view of the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop on Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover has been working for five months, surrounds the rover in Curiosity's latest self-portrait.
'Bright spot' on Ceres has dimmer companion
on Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:11:11 EST:
Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA's Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) from Ceres, reveal that a bright spot that stands out in previous images lies close to yet another bright area.
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover drills at 'Telegraph Peak'
on Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:11:12 EST:
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used its drill on Tuesday, Feb. 24 to collect sample powder from inside a rock target called "Telegraph Peak." The target sits in the upper portion of "Pahrump Hills," an outcrop the mission has been investigating for five months.
New NASA space cowboy successfully deploys its 'lasso'
on Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:11:11 EST:
Like a cowboy at a rodeo, NASA's newest Earth-observing satellite, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), has triumphantly raised its "arm" and unfurled a huge golden "lasso" (antenna) that it will soon spin up to rope the best soil moisture maps ever obtained from space.
New NASA Earth missions expand view of home planet
on Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:11:12 EST:
Four new NASA Earth-observing missions are collecting data from space -- with a fifth newly in orbit -- after the busiest year of NASA Earth science launches in more than a decade.
Living on the edge: Stars found far from galaxy center
on Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:11:11 EST:
Astronomers using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have found a cluster of stars forming at the very edge of our Milky Way galaxy. This is the first time astronomers have found stars being born in such a remote location. Clouds of star-forming material at very high latitudes away from the galactic plane are rare and, in general, are not expected to form stars.
ā€˜Superhero visionā€™ technology measures European lakeā€™s water quality from space
on Mon, 02 Mar 2015 07:11:40 EST:
An international team of researchers has demonstrated a way to assess the quality of water on Earth from space by using satellite technology that can visualize pollution levels otherwise invisible to the human eye through 'Superhero vision'.
Life 'not as we know it' possible on Saturn's moon Titan
on Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:13:33 EST:
A new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on Earth has been modeled. It is theorized to have a cell membrane, composed of small organic nitrogen compounds and capable of functioning in liquid methane temperatures of 292 degrees below zero.
New insight found in black hole collisions
on Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:04:48 EST:
New research by an astrophysicist provides revelations about the most energetic event in the universe -- the merging of two spinning, orbiting black holes into a much larger black hole.
MUSE goes beyond Hubble: Looking deeply into the universe in 3-D
on Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:49:32 EST:
The MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope has given astronomers the best ever three-dimensional view of the deep universe. After staring at the Hubble Deep Field South region for only 27 hours, the new observations reveal the distances, motions and other properties of far more galaxies than ever before in this tiny piece of the sky. They also go beyond Hubble and reveal previously invisible objects.
Pockets of calm protect molecules around a supermassive black hole
on Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:44:23 EST:
Researchers have discovered regions where certain organic molecules somehow endure the intense radiation near the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy NGC 1068, also known to amateur stargazers as M77.
Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn
on Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:24:52 EST:
The discovery of the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time presents a puzzle to researchers: How could something so massive and luminous form so early in the universe, only 900 million years after the Big Bang?
Physicists offer a solution to the puzzle of the origin of matter in the universe
on Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:22:55 EST:
Most of the laws of nature treat particles and antiparticles equally, but stars and planets are made of particles, or matter, and not antiparticles, or antimatter. That asymmetry, which favors matter to a very small degree, has puzzled scientists for many years. Physicists offer a possible solution to the mystery of the origin of matter in the universe.
SOHO sees something new near the sun: Comet survives close encounter
on Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:48:48 EST:
An unusual comet skimmed past the sun on Feb 18-21, 2015, as captured by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.
Dawn captures sharper images of Ceres
on Tue, 17 Feb 2015 11:11:11 EST:
Craters and mysterious bright spots are beginning to pop out in the latest images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. These images, taken Feb. 12 at a distance of 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet, pose intriguing questions for the science team to explore as the spacecraft nears its destination.
Mars exploration: NASA's MAVEN spacecraft completes first deep dip campaign
on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 21:19:06 EST:
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution has completed the first of five deep-dip maneuvers designed to gather measurements closer to the lower end of the Martian upper atmosphere.
Giving shape to black holes' intense winds
on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 21:19:04 EST:
By looking at the speed of ambient gas spewing out from a well-known quasar, astronomers are gaining insight into how black holes and their host galaxies might have evolved at the same time.
Scientists identify mineral that destroys organic compounds, with implications for Mars Curiosity Mission
on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 21:17:24 EST:
Scientists have discovered that the mineral jarosite breaks down organic compounds when it is flash-heated, with implications for Mars research. Jarosite is an iron sulphate and it is one of several minerals that NASA's Curiosity Mission is searching for, as its presence could indicate ancient habitable environments, which may have once hosted life on the red planet.
Hubble gets best view of a circumstellar debris disk distorted by a planet
on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:22:54 EST:
Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to take the most detailed picture to date of a large, edge-on, gas-and-dust disk encircling the 20-million-year-old star Beta Pictoris. The new image traces the disk in closer to the star to within about 650 million miles of the star.
A new view of the solar system: Astrophysical jets driven by the sun
on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 11:56:36 EST:
New research suggests that the sun's magnetic field controls the large-scale shape of the heliosphere much more than expected. The new model shows that the magnetic field squeezes the solar wind along the sun's north-south axis, producing two jets. These jets are then dragged downstream by the flow of the interstellar medium -- the gases and dust that lie between star systems.
Higgs mode in superconducting materials: Tabletop technique for examining physics' most celebrated missing link
on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 10:17:13 EST:
The Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the Higgs boson -- the 'God particle' believed responsible for all the mass in the universe -- took place in 2012 at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. The first hint of Higgs was inspired by the study of superconductors -- a special class of metals that, when cooled to very low temperatures, allow electrons to move without resistance. Now, a research team has reported the first-ever observations of the Higgs mode in superconducting materials.
Classical nova explosions are major lithium factories in the universe
on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 08:58:31 EST:
Astronomers observed Nova Delphini 2013 which occurred on August 14, 2013. They discovered that the outburst is producing a large amount of lithium (Li). Lithium is a key element in the study of the chemical evolution of the universe because it likely was and is produced in several ways: through Big Bang nucleosynthesis, in collisions between energetic cosmic rays and the interstellar medium, inside stellar interiors, and as a result of novae and supernova explosions. This new observation provides the first direct evidence for the supply of Li from stellar objects to the galactic medium.
Does dark matter cause mass extinctions and geologic upheavals?
on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 08:58:27 EST:
New research concludes that Earth's infrequent but predictable path around and through our Galaxy's disc may have a direct and significant effect on geological and biological phenomena occurring on Earth. Scientists conclude that movement through dark matter may perturb the orbits of comets and lead to additional heating in the Earth's core, both of which could be connected with mass extinction events.
Searching for signs of a force from the 'dark side' in particle collisions
on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 08:49:08 EST:
Scientists searching for signs of elusive ā€œdark photonsā€ as an explanation for an anomaly in a groundbreaking physics experiment have nearly ruled out their role.
For the first time, spacecraft catch solar shockwave in the act: 'Ultrarelativistic, killer electrons' made in 60 seconds
on Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:13:13 EST:
On Oct. 8, 2013, an explosion on the sun's surface sent a supersonic blast wave of solar wind out into space. This shockwave tore past Mercury and Venus, blitzing by the moon before streaming toward Earth. The shockwave struck a massive blow to the Earth's magnetic field, setting off a magnetized sound pulse around the planet.
Dark matter guides growth of supermassive black holes
on Wed, 18 Feb 2015 12:34:25 EST:
Every massive galaxy has a black hole at its center, and the heftier the galaxy, the bigger its black hole. But why are the two related? After all, the black hole is millions of times smaller and less massive than its home galaxy. A new study of football-shaped collections of stars called elliptical galaxies finds that the invisible hand of dark matter somehow influences black hole growth.
Getting a grip on exotic atomic nuclei
on Wed, 18 Feb 2015 10:16:26 EST:
A new model describing atomic nuclei more accurately predicts the properties of various exotic isotopes that are created in supernova explosions or inside nuclear reactors.
Dust to dust: Disintegrating rocky exoplanet could unlock secrets to how our solar system was formed
on Wed, 18 Feb 2015 07:31:07 EST:
Exciting new research has opened up the chance to find out what distant planets are made of. A team of astronomers have made observations which can help reveal the chemical makeup of a small rocky world orbiting a distant star about 1500 light years away from Earth, increasing our understanding of how planets, including ours, were formed.
The strange case of the missing dwarf
on Wed, 18 Feb 2015 07:27:59 EST:
The new SPHERE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope has been used to search for a brown dwarf expected to be orbiting the unusual double star V471 Tauri. SPHERE has given astronomers the best look so far at the surroundings of this intriguing object and they found -- nothing. The surprising absence of this confidently predicted brown dwarf means that the conventional explanation for the odd behaviour of V471 Tauri is wrong.
Laser 'ruler' holds promise for hunting exoplanets
on Tue, 17 Feb 2015 20:29:41 EST:
The hunt for Earth-like planets around distant stars could soon become a lot easier thanks to a technique developed by researchers in Germany.
With new data, satellite brings early universe into focus
on Tue, 17 Feb 2015 13:12:36 EST:
The latest data release from the Planck space telescope offers insight into everything from the fabric of space to dark matter -- and may even still have a shot at detecting gravitational waves, says an expert.
Closest known flyby of star to our solar system: Dim star passed through Oort Cloud 70,000 years ago
on Tue, 17 Feb 2015 11:41:21 EST:
Astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system's distant cloud of comets, the Oort Cloud. No other star is known to have ever approached our solar system this close -- five times closer than the current closest star, Proxima Centauri. They analyzed the velocity and trajectory of a low-mass star system nicknamed "Scholz's star."
Sending a rocket through the northern lights
on Tue, 17 Feb 2015 08:37:49 EST:
The combination of American electron clouds and Norwegian northern lights spells trouble for navigation and communication in the Northern regions. The ICI4 rocket will provide knowledge that can help us predict the weather in space.
Mystery Mars plume baffles scientists
on Mon, 16 Feb 2015 20:08:58 EST:
Plumes seen reaching high above the surface of Mars are causing a stir among scientists studying the atmosphere on the Red Planet. On two separate occasions in March and April 2012, amateur astronomers reported definite plume-like features developing on the planet.
Satellite images reveal ocean acidification from space
on Mon, 16 Feb 2015 06:49:29 EST:
Pioneering techniques that use satellites to monitor ocean acidification are set to revolutionize the way that marine biologists and climate scientists study the ocean. This new approach offers remote monitoring of large swathes of inaccessible ocean from satellites that orbit the Earth some 700 km above our heads.
Why do starburst galaxies 'burst'? Super stellar nurseries at heart of Sculptor galaxy
on Sun, 15 Feb 2015 18:50:29 EST:
Astronomers used ALMA to dissect a cluster of star-forming clouds at the heart of NGC 253, one of the nearest starburst galaxies to the Milky Way.
ESA experimental spaceplane completes research flight
on Wed, 11 Feb 2015 11:11:11 EST:
An experimental vehicle to develop an autonomous European reentry capability for future reusable space transportation has completed its mission. ESA's Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle flew a flawless reentry and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean just west of the Galapagos islands.
A new way to view Titan: 'Despeckle' it
on Fri, 13 Feb 2015 18:02:32 EST:
During 10 years of discovery, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has pulled back the smoggy veil that obscures the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Cassini's radar instrument has mapped almost half of the giant moon's surface; revealed vast, desert-like expanses of sand dunes; and plumbed the depths of expansive hydrocarbon seas. What could make that scientific bounty even more amazing? Well, what if the radar images could look even better?
'Pale Blue Dot' images turn 25
on Fri, 13 Feb 2015 18:00:06 EST:
Valentine's Day is special for NASA's Voyager mission. It was on Feb. 14, 1990, that the Voyager 1 spacecraft looked back at our solar system and snapped the first-ever pictures of the planets from its perch at that time beyond Neptune.
Interstellar technology throws light on spinning black holes
on Fri, 13 Feb 2015 08:16:15 EST:
The team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the center of Christopher Nolan's epic 'Interstellar' have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful effects of black holes.