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Magnesium oxide: From Earth to super-Earth

The mantles of Earth and other rocky planets are rich in magnesium and oxygen. Due to its simplicity, the mineral magnesium oxide is a good model for studying the nature of planetary interiors. New work from a team led by Carnegie's Stewart McWilliams studied how magnesium oxide behaves under the extreme conditions deep within planets and found evidence that alters our understanding of planetary evolution.

Posted: Nov 22nd, 2012

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Peeking into Saturn's super storm

Astronomers have gotten a first look at the aftermath of Saturn's 'Great Springtime Storm' thanks to the heat-seeking capabilities of the international Cassini spacecraft and two ground-based telescopes. Even though the cosmic event is hidden to the naked eye, a giant oval vortex continues to exist long after the visible effects of the storm have subsided.

Posted: Nov 20th, 2012

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Higgs Boson: Mysterious particle could help unlock secrets of the universe

The search for a mysterious subatomic particle can certainly involve some enormous tools, not to mention a multitude of scientists. The effort to find the elusive "Higgs boson" includes over 5,800 scientists from 56 countries. It's a subatomic particle that gives other particles, such as quarks and electrons, their mass.

Posted: Nov 20th, 2012

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DARPA telescope headed to Australia to help track space debris

DARPA's ground-based Space Surveillance Telescope may soon head to Australia. An agreement reached this week with Australia's Department of Defense will allow DARPA to take the 180,000 lb. three-mirror Mersenne-Schmidt telescope to Australia to track and catalogues space debris and objects unique to the space above that region of the world that could threaten DoD satellites.

Posted: Nov 19th, 2012

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Portrait of a super-Jupiter

A discovery in the Andromeda constellation sheds new light on the birth of planets. The gas giant has roughly 13 times the mass of Jupiter, while the parent star has 2.5 times the mass of the Sun. This planet probably formed in a similar way to ordinary, lower-mass planets: in a 'protoplanetary disk' of gas and dust. This makes the planet an important test case for current models of how planets are born.

Posted: Nov 19th, 2012

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Thirty million hours of supercomputer time for space simulation

In space research, the Finnish Meteorological Institute specialises in large-scale computer simulations modelling the behaviour of particles and electromagnetic fields in the vicinity of Earth and other bodies in the solar system. Simulation models are used, for example, to study processes involved in the origin of auroras.

Posted: Nov 19th, 2012

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Robotic explorers may usher in lunar 'water rush'

The American space program stands at the cusp of a "water rush" to the moon by several companies developing robotic prospectors for launch in the near future, according to a NASA scientist considering how to acquire and use water ice believed to be at the poles of the moon.

Posted: Nov 18th, 2012

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Melt water on Mars could sustain life

Near surface water has shaped the landscape of Mars. Areas of the planet's northern and southern hemispheres have alternately thawed and frozen in recent geologic history and comprise striking similarities to the landscape of Svalbard. This suggests that water has played a more extensive role than previously envisioned, and that environments capable of sustaining life could exist.

Posted: Nov 16th, 2012

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