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Metamorphosis of moon’s water ice explained

June 20, 2013 9:21 am | News | Comments

Using data gathered by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, scientists believe they have solved a mystery from one of the solar system’s coldest regions—a permanently shadowed crater on the moon. They have explained how energetic particles penetrating lunar soil can create molecular hydrogen from water ice. The finding provides insight into how radiation can change the chemistry of water ice throughout the solar system.

Scientists discuss new photo-taking satellite

June 19, 2013 12:52 am | by Dirk Lammers, Associated Press | News | Comments

Nearly 120 scientists and engineers from around the world are meeting in South Dakota this week to discuss operational and technical issues with collecting images from the Landsat 8 satellite. In February, NASA launched the satellite, which takes images of every inch of the Earth’s surface to see what happens over time, and recently handed over operational control of it to the EROS Center.

Minute variations in brightness reveal whole new class of stars

June 12, 2013 5:41 pm | News | Comments

Astronomers using the Swiss 1.2-m Euler telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile have found a new type of variable star. The discovery was based on the detection of very tiny changes in brightness of stars in a cluster. The observations revealed previously unknown properties of these stars that defy current theories and raise questions about the origin of the variations.

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Moon radiation findings may reduce health risks to astronauts

June 11, 2013 3:55 pm | News | Comments

Space scientists from the Univ. of New Hampshire and the Southwest Research Institute report that data gathered by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show lighter materials like plastics provide effective shielding against the radiation hazards faced by astronauts during extended space travel. The finding could help reduce health risks to humans on future missions into deep space.

Chinese spacecraft blasts off with three astronauts

June 11, 2013 10:49 am | by Andy Wong, Associated Press | News | Comments

China's fifth and longest manned spacecraft successfully blasted off Tuesday on a 15-day mission to dock with a space lab and educate young people about science. The spacecraft was launched aboard a Long March 2F rocket and will transport the crew to the Tiangong 1, which functions as an experimental prototype for a much larger Chinese space station to be launched in 2020.

Simple theory may explain mysterious dark matter

June 10, 2013 3:54 pm | News | Comments

Most of the matter in the universe may be made out of particles that possess an unusual, donut-shaped electromagnetic field called an anapole. This proposal, which endows dark matter particles with a rare form of electromagnetism, has been strengthened by a detailed analysis performed by a pair of theoretical physicists at Vanderbilt University.

Pebbles, sand on Mars best evidence that a river ran through it

June 6, 2013 7:29 am | News | Comments

Pebbles and sand scattered near an ancient Martian river network may present the most convincing evidence yet that the frigid deserts of the Red Planet were once a habitable environment traversed by flowing water. Scientists with NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission reported on May 30, 2013, the discovery of sand grains and small stones that bear the telltale roundness of river stones and are too heavy to have been moved by wind.

Giant planets offer help in faster research on material surfaces

June 5, 2013 12:04 pm | News | Comments

Based on the mathematics used to model the interaction of light with the atmospheres of giant gas planets, a new algorithm from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw offers a fast and accurate way to better understand physical and chemical properties of materials' surfaces.

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Galaxy in its death throes may hold clues to birth of dwarf systems

June 5, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

A bright dwarf galaxy relatively close to Earth’s Milky Way and trailing fireballs is the first clear example of a galaxy in the act of dying, scientists argue in new research. The work gives a known galaxy new status and offers the potential for better understanding of the mysterious origin of dwarf elliptical galaxies, a subspecies of the universe’s most common type of galaxy.

On board Mars Express, in orbit around the Red Planet

June 3, 2013 3:42 pm | News | Comments

Just about 10 years ago, NASA’s Mars Express launched, setting the stage for a remarkable advance in knowledge of the Red Planet in the past decade. Using high-resolution camera technologies, researchers could for the first time see Mars spatially. Over time, a 3-D image of Mars was built. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center, who have been instrumental in this effort, have taken a look back the impact of this orbiter.

Astronauts face radiation threat on long Mars trip

May 31, 2013 10:38 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

As plans for deep space exploration ramp up, radiation is a big concern. Earth's magnetic field helps to deflect much of that harmful radiation, but astronauts traveling to and from Mars would be bombarded with as much radiation as they'd get from a full-body CT scan about once a week for a year, researchers reported Thursday. That dose would, in some cases, exceed NASA's standards and is enough to raise an astronaut's cancer risk by 3%.

Experts: Rounded stones on Mars evidence of flowing water

May 30, 2013 5:59 pm | News | Comments

Observations by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity have revealed areas with gravel and pebbles that are characteristic of a former riverbed.  Researchers, including members of the Niels Bohr Institute, have analyzed their shapes and sizes and the rounded pebbles clearly show that there has been flowing water on Mars.

Super-dense star is first ever found suddenly slowing its spin

May 30, 2013 5:37 pm | News | Comments

One of the densest objects in the universe, a neutron star about 10,000 light years from Earth, has been discovered suddenly putting the brakes on its spinning speed. The event is a mystery that holds important clues for understanding how matter reacts when it is squeezed more tightly than the density of an atomic nucleus—a state that no laboratory on Earth has achieved.

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Water-rock reaction may provide enough hydrogen to sustain life on Mars

May 30, 2013 1:27 pm | News | Comments

According to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder, a chemical reaction between iron-containing minerals and water may produce enough hydrogen "food" to sustain microbial communities living in pores and cracks within the enormous volume of rock below the ocean floor and parts of the continents.

Mathematical model links space-time theories

May 30, 2013 10:03 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Southampton have taken a significant step in a project to unravel the secrets of the structure of our universe. A recently published paper by the team makes connections between negatively curved space-time and flat space-time.

NASA head views progress on asteroid lasso mission

May 23, 2013 10:59 pm | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Surrounded by engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, NASA chief Charles Bolden on Thursday inspected a prototype spacecraft engine that could power an audacious mission to lasso an asteroid and tow it closer to Earth for astronauts to explore. Once relegated to science fiction, ion propulsion is preferred for deep space cruising because it's more fuel-efficient.

Bacterium from Arctic offers clues about life on Mars

May 23, 2013 2:04 pm | News | Comments

The temperature in the permafrost on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic is nearly as cold as that of the surface of Mars. So the recent discovery by a McGill University led team of scientists of a bacterium that is able to thrive at -15 C, the coldest temperature ever reported for bacterial growth, is exciting.  The bacterium offers clues about some of the necessary preconditions for microbial life on Mars.

Researchers explain magnetic field misbehavior in solar flares

May 23, 2013 8:39 am | News | Comments

When a solar flare filled with charged particles erupts from the sun, its magnetic fields sometimes break a widely accepted rule of physics. The flux-freezing theorem dictates that the magnetic lines of force should flow away in lock-step with the particles, whole and unbroken. Instead, the lines sometimes break apart and quickly reconnect in a way that has mystified astrophysicists.

New pump resolves big space station leak

May 17, 2013 8:20 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

An impromptu spacewalk over the weekend seems to have fixed a big ammonia leak at the International Space Station, NASA said Thursday. The "gusher" erupted a week ago, prompting the hastiest repair job ever by residents of the orbiting lab. Spacewalking astronauts replaced a suspect ammonia pump on Saturday, just two days after the trouble arose.

Private spaceship tests underway

May 16, 2013 3:17 pm | by BROCK VERGAKIS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A Colorado company developing a spaceship to take astronauts to the International Space Station is having elements of its spacecraft undergo landing-related tests at NASA facilities in Virginia and California. NASA wants private firms to ferry astronauts into low-Earth orbit so it can focus on deep-space exploration and send crews to a nearby asteroid and eventually Mars.

Weather on the outer planets only goes so deep

May 16, 2013 12:31 pm | News | Comments

The planets Uranus and Neptune are home to extreme winds blowing at speeds of over 1,000 km/hour, hurricane-like storms as large around as Earth, immense weather systems that last for years, and fast-flowing jet streams. Researchers using a new method for analyzing the gravitational field of these planets have determined an upper limit for the thickness of the atmospheric layer, which limits the depth of stormy weather.

Microgravity nanomedicine experiment may go to Space Station

May 14, 2013 10:00 am | News | Comments

Nearly all drugs taken orally spike in concentration, decay quickly, and are only at their peak effectiveness for a short period of time. working on a solution―nanocapsules implanted beneath the skin that release pharmaceutical drugs through a nanochannel membrane and into the body at a sustained, steady rate. To design better nanochannels for a given drug, the team is hoping to use the International Space Station.

New method of finding planets scores first discovery

May 13, 2013 3:06 pm | News | Comments

Detecting alien worlds presents a significant challenge since they are small, faint, and close to their stars. The two most prolific techniques for finding exoplanets are radial velocity and transits. A team at Tel Aviv University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has just discovered an exoplanet using a new method that relies on Einstein's special theory of relativity.

Hubble finds dead stars “polluted” with planet debris

May 10, 2013 9:24 am | News | Comments

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has found the building blocks for Earth-sized planets in an unlikely place—the atmospheres of a pair of burned-out stars called white dwarfs. Hubble's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph observed silicon and only low levels of carbon in the white dwarfs' atmospheres. Silicon is a major ingredient of the rocky material that constitutes Earth and other solid planets in our solar system.

Moon, Earth have common water source

May 10, 2013 7:59 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown University | News | Comments

Researchers used a multicollector ion microprobe to study hydrogen-deuterium ratios in lunar rock and on Earth. Their conclusion: The moon’s water did not come from comets but was already present on Earth 4.5 billion years ago, when a giant collision sent material from Earth to form the moon.

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