Space junk: The cluttered frontier

Space junk: The cluttered frontier

Hundreds of millions of pieces of space junk orbit the Earth daily, from chips of old rocket paint, to shards of solar panels, and entire dead satellites. This cloud of high-tech detritus whirls around the planet at about 17,500 miles per hour. At these speeds, even trash as small as a pebble can torpedo a passing spacecraft.

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Ancient DNA reveals how cats conquered the world

Ancient DNA reveals how cats conquered the world

Humans may have had pet cats for as long as 9,500 years. In 2004, archaeologists in Cyprus found a complete cat skeleton buried in a Stone Age village. Given that Cyprus has no native wildcats, the animal (or perhaps its ancestors) must have been brought to the island by humans all those millennia ago.

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Hubble Uses Gravitational Lens to Capture Disk Galaxy

Hubble Uses Gravitational Lens to Capture Disk Galaxy

Acting as a “natural telescope” in space, the gravity of the extremely massive foreground galaxy cluster MACS J2129-0741 magnifies, brightens, and distorts the far-distant background galaxy MACS2129-1 in the upper-right corner of this image. (View an annotated image highlighting the gravitationally-lensed galaxy.)

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Hubble Captures Massive Dead Disk Galaxy that Challenges Theories of Galaxy Evolution

Hubble Captures Massive Dead Disk Galaxy that Challenges Theories of Galaxy Evolution

By combining the power of a "natural lens" in space with the capability of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers made a surprising discovery—the first example of a compact yet massive, fast-spinning, disk-shaped galaxy that stopped making stars only a few billion years after the big bang.

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Off on holiday? Here’s the best time to book flights and hotels

Off on holiday? Here’s the best time to book flights and hotels

If you’ve ever tried to get the best deal on a holiday, you will have noticed that airlines and hotels continually change their prices. What might cost a certain amount now, could be cheaper or more expensive tomorrow due to this “dynamic pricing” – used as a method to manage revenue. We have studied these pricing techniques in sectors including airlines and hotels to further understand and identify when it is best to book and get the best price.

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Let's clean up the space junk with magnetic space tugs!

Let's clean up the space junk with magnetic space tugs!

After 50 years of sending rockets, satellites, and payloads into orbit, humanity has created something of a “space junk” problem. Recent estimates indicate that there are more than 170 million pieces of debris up there, ranging in size from less than 1 cm (o.4 in) to a few meters in diameter. Not only does this junk threaten spacecraft and the ISS, but collisions between bits of debris can cause more to form, a phenomena known as the Kessler Effect.

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Elon Musk releases details of plan to colonise Mars – here’s what a planetary expert thinks

Elon Musk releases details of plan to colonise Mars – here’s what a planetary expert thinks

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, has released new details of his vision to colonise parts of the solar system, including Mars, Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. His gung ho plans – designed to make humans a multi-planetary species in case civilisation collapses – include launching flights to Mars as early as 2023.

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NASA Announces 10, That's Right 10! New Planets in Their Star's Habitable Zone

NASA Announces 10, That's Right 10! New Planets in Their Star's Habitable Zone

The Kepler space telescope is surely the gift that keeps on giving. After being deployed in 2009, it went on to detect a total of 2,335 confirmed exoplanets and 582 multi-planet systems. Even after two of its reaction wheels failed, it carried on with its K2 mission, which has discovered an additional 520 candidates, 148 of which have been confirmed. And with yet another extension, which will last beyond 2018, it shows no signs of stopping!

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NASA Completes Study of Future ‘Ice Giant’ Mission Concepts

NASA Completes Study of Future ‘Ice Giant’ Mission Concepts

A NASA-led and NASA-sponsored study of potential future missions to the mysterious “ice giant” planets Uranus and Neptune has been released—the first in a series of mission studies NASA will conduct in support of the next Planetary Science Decadal Survey. The results of this and future studies will be used as the Decadal Survey deliberates on NASA’s planetary science priorities from 2022-2032. The study identifies the scientific questions an ice giant mission should address, and discusses various instruments, spacecraft, flight-paths and technologies that could be used. 

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New Evidence That All Stars Are Born in Pairs

New Evidence That All Stars Are Born in Pairs

Did our Sun have a twin when it was born 4.5 billion years ago?Almost certainly yes -- though not an identical twin. And so did every other Sun-like star in the universe, according to a new analysis by a theoretical physicist from the University of California, Berkeley, and a radio astronomer from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory at Harvard University.

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NASA Releases Kepler Survey Catalog with Hundreds of New Planet Candidates

NASA Releases Kepler Survey Catalog with Hundreds of New Planet Candidates

NASA’s Kepler space telescope team has released a mission catalog of planet candidates that introduces 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and orbiting in their star's habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of a rocky planet.

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Chaotically Magnetized Cloud Is No Place to Build a Star, or Is It?

Chaotically Magnetized Cloud Is No Place to Build a Star, or Is It?

For decades, scientists believed that the magnetic field lines coursing around newly forming stars were both powerful and unyielding, working like jail bars to corral star-forming material. More recently, astronomers have found tantalizing evidence that large-scale turbulence far from a nascent star can drag magnetic fields around at will.

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Hate vegetables? You might have super-taster genes!

Hate vegetables? You might have super-taster genes!

Do you hate vegetables? You’re not alone. About 20% of the population are “super-tasters”. Super-tasters have more taste buds than other people and are super sensitive to the bitter compounds found in some food and drinks, even at low concentrations. If you have inherited super-taster genes then cruciferous vegetables (flower vegetables in the cabbage family) like bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radish, swede, turnip, and watercress will taste disgusting.

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Elon Musk details his vision for a human civilization on Mars

Elon Musk details his vision for a human civilization on Mars

Elon Musk has never been one to keep his long-term plans to himself. Beyond the development of reusable rockets, electric cars, and revolutionizing solar power, he has also been quite vocal about establishing a colony on Mars within his lifetime. The goal here is nothing less than ensuring the survival of the human race by creating a “backup location”, and calls for some serious planning and architecture.

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How close are we to a real Star Trek-style medical tricorder?

How close are we to a real Star Trek-style medical tricorder?

Does science inspire fiction or does it work the other way around? In the case of medical technology, the long-running TV and film series Star Trek has increasingly been inspiring researchers worldwide. Two teams were recently awarded the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize for developing handheld devices that can diagnose a range of diseases and check a patient’s vital signs without invasive tests – inspired by Star Trek’s medical “tricorder” device.

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