NASA Selects Mission to Study Churning Chaos in our Milky Way and Beyond

NASA Selects Mission to Study Churning Chaos in our Milky Way and Beyond

NASA has selected a science mission that will measure emissions from the interstellar medium, which is the cosmic material found between stars. This data will help scientists determine the life cycle of interstellar gas in our Milky Way galaxy, witness the formation and destruction of star-forming clouds, and understand the dynamics and gas flow in the vicinity of the center of our galaxy.

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Watch stars orbit Milky Ways supermassive black hole

Watch stars orbit Milky Ways supermassive black hole

When your ordinary citizen learns there’s a supermassive black hole with a mass of 4 million suns sucking on its teeth in the center of the Milky Way galaxy, they might kindly ask exactly how astronomers know this. A perfectly legitimate question. You can tell them that the laws of physics guarantee their existence or that people have been thinking about black holes since 1783. That year, English clergyman John Michell proposed the idea of “dark stars” so massive and gravitationally powerful they could imprison their own light.

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Why Doesn't Earth Have Rings?

Why Doesn't Earth Have Rings?

Before we really get started on today’s episode, I’d like to share a bunch of really cool pictures created by my friend Kevin Gill. Kevin’s a computer programmer, 3-D animator and works on climate science data for NASA. And in his spare time, he uses his skills to help him imagine what the Universe could look like. For example, he’s mapped out what a future terraformed Mars might look like based on elevation maps, or rendered moons disturbing Saturn’s rings with their gravity.

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Ice in Ceres' Shadowed Craters Linked to Tilt History

Ice in Ceres' Shadowed Craters Linked to Tilt History

Dwarf planet Ceres may be hundreds of millions of miles from Jupiter, and even farther from Saturn, but the tremendous influence of gravity from these gas giants has an appreciable effect on Ceres' orientation. In a new study, researchers from NASA's Dawn mission calculate that the axial tilt of Ceres -- the angle at which it spins as it journeys around the sun -- varies widely over the course of about 24,500 years. Astronomers consider this to be a surprisingly short period of time for such dramatic deviations.

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New study shakes the roots of the dinosaur family tree

New study shakes the roots of the dinosaur family tree

More than a century of theory about the evolutionary history of dinosaurs has been turned on its head following the publication of new research from scientists at the University of Cambridge and Natural History Museum in London. Their work suggests that the family groupings need to be rearranged, re-defined and re-named and also that dinosaurs may have originated in the northern hemisphere rather than the southern, as current thinking goes.

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How A.I. Captured a Volcano's Changing Lava Lake

How A.I. Captured a Volcano's Changing Lava Lake

One of our planet's few exposed lava lakes is changing, and artificial intelligence is helping NASA understand how.On January 21, a fissure opened at the top of Ethiopia's Erta Ale volcano -- one of the few in the world with an active lava lake in its caldera. Volcanologists sent out requests for NASA's Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) spacecraft to image the eruption, which was large enough to begin reshaping the volcano's summit.

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Curiosity's battered wheels show first breaks

Curiosity's battered wheels show first breaks

Since it landed on August 6th, 2012, the Curiosity rover has spent a total of 1644 Sols (or 1689 Earth days) on Mars. And as of March 2017, it has traveled almost 16 km (~10 mi) across the planet and climbed almost a fifth of a kilometer (0.124 mi) uphill. Spending that kind of time on another planet, and traveling that kind of distance, can certainly lead to its share of wear of tear on a vehicle.

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Large Hadron Collider Disovers 5 New Gluelike Particles!

Large Hadron Collider Disovers 5 New Gluelike Particles!

Since it began its second operational run in 2015, the Large Hadron Collider has been doing some pretty interesting things. For example, starting in 2016, researchers at CERN began using the collide to conduct the Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment (LHCb). This is investigation seeks to determine what it is that took place after the Big Bang so that matter was able to survive and create the Universe that we know today.

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Eye opening numbers on space debris

Eye opening numbers on space debris

Orbital debris, otherwise known as “space junk”, is a major concern. This massive cloud that orbits the Earth is the result of the many satellites, platforms and spent launchers that have been sent into space over the years. And as time went on, collisions between these objects (as well as disintegrations and erosion) has created even more in the way of debris.

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Crumbling comet? The great debate about whether Rosetta rock 67P is breaking apart

Crumbling comet? The great debate about whether Rosetta rock 67P is breaking apart

It is almost six months since the Rosetta spacecraft completed its operations in a controlled dive onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimanko. The landing, after which Rosetta could no longer communicate with Earth, may have marked the end of data collection from the comet – but not the end of news about 67P. The archive of information amassed during the mission will be a rich source of material for many years. In fact, the data interpretation phase of the mission has barely begun.

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Ever wondered what final approach to Mars might feel like?

Ever wondered what final approach to Mars might feel like?

We’ve posted several ‘flyover’ videos of Mars that use data from spacecraft. But this video might be the most spectacular and realistic. Created by filmmaker Jan Fröjdman from Finland, “A Fictive Flight Above Real Mars” uses actual data from the venerable HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and takes you on a 3-D tour over steep cliffs, high buttes, amazing craters, polygons and other remarkable land forms. But Fröjdman also adds a few features reminiscent of the landing videos taken by the Apollo astronauts. Complete with crosshatches and thruster firings, this video puts you on final approach to land on (and then take off from) Mars’ surface.

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Can science produce better passport control officers?

Can science produce better passport control officers?

Passport officers often have to scrutinise hundreds of people each day. They have just a few seconds to stare through their glass screens at the impatient and perhaps slightly dishevelled traveller facing them and decide if their face matches the tiny photograph in their passport. And this isn’t just their job – it’s a matter of great national security.

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Get ready for the >100 planet solar system

Get ready for the >100 planet solar system

Pluto’s status as a non-planet may be coming to an end. Professor Mike Brown of Caltech ended Pluto’s planetary status in 2006. But now, Kirby Runyon, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University, thinks it’s time to cancel that demotion and restore it as our Solar System’s ninth planet.

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How did Uranus get its name?

How did Uranus get its name?

The period known as the Scientific Revolution (ca. 16th to the 18th century) was a time of major scientific upheaval. In addition to advances made in mathematics, chemistry, and the natural sciences, several major discoveries were made in the field of astronomy. Because of this, our understanding of the size and structure of the Solar System was forever revolutionized.

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Hubble's Glittering Frisbee Galaxy

Hubble's Glittering Frisbee Galaxy

This image from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) shows a section of NGC 1448, a spiral galaxy located about 50 million light-years from Earth in the little-known constellation of Horologium (The Pendulum Clock). We tend to think of spiral galaxies as massive and roughly circular celestial bodies, so this glittering oval does not immediately appear to fit the visual bill. What’s going on?

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Mackenzie River in Canada's Northwest Territories

Mackenzie River in Canada's Northwest Territories

This view, acquired on Nov. 7, 2016, by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8, shows a portion of Canada's Mackenzie River Delta and the town of Inuvik, home to more than 3,000 people. A frozen highway -- 194 kilometers (120 miles) long -- runs between the remote outposts of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk along the river’s East Channel. White, snow-and-ice covered waterways stand out amid green, pine-covered land. The low angle of the sunlight bathes the higher elevations in golden light.

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