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astrophysics, cosmology, the universe...

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Surface of Titan Sea is mirror smooth

Using radar measurements gathered by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, geophysicists have concluded that the surface of Ligeia Mare, Titan's second largest sea, has a mirror-like smoothness, possibly due to a lack of winds. As the only other solar system body with an Earth-like weather system, Titan could serve as a model for studying our own planet's early history.

Posted: Mar 20th, 2014

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Van Allen Probes reveal 'zebra stripes' structure in Earth's inner radiation belt

Scientists have discovered a new, persistent structure in Earth's inner radiation belt using data from the twin NASA Van Allen Probes spacecraft. Most surprisingly, this structure is produced by the slow rotation of Earth, previously considered incapable of affecting the motion of radiation belt particles, which have velocities approaching the speed of light.

Posted: Mar 19th, 2014

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Researchers detect water around a hot Jupiter

Researchers have detected water vapor in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system. The team applied a sophisticated Doppler technique to the infrared to directly detect the planet and demonstrate the presence of water in its atmosphere.

Posted: Mar 19th, 2014

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Fierce 2012 magnetic storm barely missed Earth (w/video)

On July 23, 2012, a huge magnetic storm propelled by two nearly simultaneous coronal mass ejections on the sun plowed through Earth's orbit. Luckily, Earth was on the other side of the sun at the time. Had the outburst hit Earth, however, it would have rivaled the largest magnetic storm to strike Earth in recorded history, possibly wreaking havoc with the electrical grid, satellites and GPS.

Posted: Mar 19th, 2014

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New view of supernova death throes

A powerful, new three-dimensional model provides fresh insight into the turbulent death throes of supernovas, whose final explosions outshine entire galaxies and populate the universe with elements that make life on Earth possible.

Posted: Mar 18th, 2014

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NASA releases first interactive mosaic of lunar north pole

Scientists, using cameras aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), have created the largest high resolution mosaic of our moon's north polar region. The six-and-a-half feet (two-meters)-per-pixel images cover an area equal to more than one-quarter of the United States.

Posted: Mar 18th, 2014

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Astronomers complete cosmic dust census

An international team of astronomers has completed a benchmark study of more than 300 galaxies, producing the largest census of dust in the local Universe, the Herschel Reference Survey.

Posted: Mar 18th, 2014

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Mercury's contraction much greater than thought

New global imaging and topographic data from MESSENGER show that the innermost planet has contracted far more than previous estimates. The results are based on a global study of more than 5,900 geological landforms, such as curving cliff-like scarps and wrinkle ridges, that have resulted from the planet's contraction as Mercury cooled. The findings are key to understanding the planet's thermal, tectonic, and volcanic history, and the structure of its unusually large metallic core.

Posted: Mar 17th, 2014

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An experiment recreates the crust of the moon Europa

Water, salts and gases dissolved in the huge ocean that scientists believe could exist below Europa's icy crust can rise to the surface generating the enigmatic geological formations associated to red-tinged materials that can be seen on this Jupiter's satellite.

Posted: Mar 14th, 2014

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Reducing debris threat from satellite batteries

A new study by ESA's Clean Space initiative - tasked with reducing the space industry's environmental impacts on both Earth and space - aims to evaluate battery behaviour after a satellite shuts down, assessing the risk of breakup and ensuring full 'passivation'.

Posted: Mar 13th, 2014

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VLT spots largest yellow hypergiant star

ESO's Very Large Telescope has revealed the largest yellow star - and one of the 10 largest stars found so far. This hypergiant has been found to measure more than 1,300 times the diameter of the Sun, and to be part of a double star system, with the second component so close that it is in contact with the main star. Observations spanning over 60 years also indicate that this remarkable object is changing very rapidly.

Posted: Mar 12th, 2014

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