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Science Announces 2014’s Top 10 Breakthroughs

December 19, 2014 7:00 am | by American Association for the Advancement of Science | News | Comments

The Rosetta spacecraft caught up with the comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko beyond Mars this August, and its preliminary results— along with the studies it will allow in the near-future— top this year's list of the most important scientific breakthroughs, according to the editors of Science.

Holiday Decorations Light Up Space

December 18, 2014 7:00 am | by NASA | Videos | Comments

Satellite data shows that around many major U.S. cities, nighttime lights shine 20 to 50 percent...

Rover Finds Methane Spikes on Mars

December 17, 2014 8:07 am | by Associated Press, Marcia Dunn | News | Comments

NASA's Mars rover, Curiosity, has detected spikes of methane in the planet's...

MAVEN IDs Links in Chain Leading to Atmospheric Loss

December 15, 2014 2:00 pm | by NASA | News | Comments

Early discoveries by NASA’s newest Mars orbiter are starting to reveal key features about the...

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Isotopes May Shed Light on Origins of Life-supporting Planets

December 12, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Surrey | News | Comments

New research has described how recreating isotopes that occur when a star explodes can help physicists understand where life-supporting elements may be found in space. Researchers were able to observe the isotopes of certain elemental chemicals formed as a star explodes.

Real Data, Not Theory, Used to Measure Cosmos

December 12, 2014 2:00 pm | by Imperial College London | News | Comments

For the first time, researchers have measured large distances in the Universe using data, rather than calculations related to general relativity. The team used data from astronomical surveys to measure a standard distance that is central to our understanding of the expansion of the universe.

Scientists Find Possible Signal from Dark Matter

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | by EPFL | Videos | Comments

Could there finally be tangible evidence for the existence of dark matter in the Universe? After sifting through reams of X-ray data, scientists believe they may have identified the signal of a particle of dark matter.

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Pluto-sized Objects Create Dust around Adolescent Star

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | News | Comments

Astronomers may have detected the dusty hallmarks of an entire family of Pluto-size objects swarming around an adolescent version of our own Sun. By making detailed observations of the protoplanetary disk surrounding the star, the astronomers detected an unexpected increase in the concentration of millimeter-size dust grains in the disk's outer reaches.

Origins of Earth's Water Still a Mystery

December 11, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

The mystery of where Earth's water came from got murkier this week when some astronomers essentially eliminated one of the chief suspects: comets. Over the past few months, the Rosetta space probe closely examined the type of comet that some scientists theorized could have brought water to our planet 4 billion years ago. It found water, but the wrong kind.

NASA, Hospital Team for Spacesuit Issue

December 9, 2014 9:43 am | by Associated Press, Juan Lozano | News | Comments

The empty spacesuit that sat on the operating table in a lab at Houston Methodist Hospital's research institute made for an unusual patient. NASA hopes the advanced imaging equipment in the lab, including a CT scanner attached to a robotic arm, can help it create 3-D pictures of its spacesuits that can be used to better diagnose malfunctions that might happen in the future.

Image of the Week: Clues on How Water Helped Shape Mars

December 9, 2014 7:00 am | by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory | News | Comments

Observations by NASA's Curiosity Rover indicate Mars' Mount Sharp was built by sediments deposited in a large lake bed over tens of millions of years. This interpretation of Curiosity's finds in Gale Crater suggests ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes at many locations on the Red Planet.

Scientists Recreate What May be Life's First Spark

December 8, 2014 3:46 pm | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

Scientists in a lab used a powerful laser to re-create what might have been the original spark of life on Earth. The researchers zapped clay and a chemical soup with the laser to simulate the energy of a speeding asteroid smashing into the planet. They ended up creating what can be considered crucial pieces of the building blocks of life.

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2015's Top 10 Ethical Dilemmas in Science

December 8, 2014 3:02 pm | by Notre Dame | News | Comments

The John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values at the Univ. of Notre Dame has released its annual list of emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology for 2015. The Reilly Center explores conceptual, ethical, and policy issues where science and technology intersect with society from different disciplinary perspectives.

Titan is Much Windier than Thought

December 8, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Tennessee at Knoxville | News | Comments

Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is a peculiar place. It has rivers and lakes made up of components of natural gas, such as ethane and methane. It also has windswept dunes that are hundreds of yards high, more than a mile wide and hundreds of miles long— despite data suggesting the body to have only light breezes. New research shows that winds on Titan must blow faster than previously thought.

Physicist Introduces New Model for Solar Weather

December 8, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville | News | Comments

Thanks to an observation-based model that predicts the occurrence and timing of solar mass ejections, scientists can now forecast solar weather and how it will affect Earth.

Orion’s Success Ushers in New Space Era

December 5, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Marcia Dunn | News | Comments

NASA's new Orion spacecraft made a "bullseye" splashdown in the Pacific on Friday following a dramatic test flight that took it to a zenith of 3,604 miles and ushered in a new era of human exploration aiming for Mars. The unmanned test flight ended 4 ½ hours after it began and achieved at least one record: flying farther and faster than any capsule built for humans since the Apollo moon program.

Possible Biological Activity in Meteorite

December 4, 2014 7:00 am | by EPFL | News | Comments

Did Mars ever have life? Does it still? A meteorite from Mars has reignited the old debate. An international team has published a paper showing that Martian life is more probable than previously thought.

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Explorer to Blow Crater in Asteroid

December 3, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

A Japanese space explorer took off today on a six-year journey to blow a crater in a remote asteroid and bring back rock samples in hopes of gathering clues to the origin of Earth. The explorer, named Hayabusa2, is expected to reach the asteroid in mid-2018, spend about 18 months studying it and return in late 2020.

Long-term Space Travel is Safer than Thought

December 3, 2014 2:00 pm | by Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences | News | Comments

Analysis of data from the first comprehensive measurements of long-term exposure of astronauts to cosmic radiation has now been completed. This experiment, carried out onboard and outside of the International Space Station, showed that the cosmos may be less hostile to space travelers than expected.

Tiny Rocks May Have Destroyed Primordial Atmosphere

December 2, 2014 2:00 pm | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | News | Comments

Geochemical evidence suggests that Earth’s atmosphere may have been completely obliterated at least twice since its formation more than 4 billion years ago. A new study has found a barrage of small impacts likely erased much of the Earth’s primordial atmosphere.

Image of the Week: ISON Disintegrates

December 2, 2014 7:00 am | by ESA | News | Comments

Some had hoped comet ISON would be the comet of the century, lighting Earth’s skies during the latter months of 2013. Instead, it was barely visible for ground-based observers, but the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory had a ringside seat to watch its disintegration.

3-D Printer in Space Delivers First Creation

November 26, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Marcia Dunn | News | Comments

The first 3-D printer in space has popped out a creation. The 3-D printer delivered to the International Space Station two months ago made a sample replacement part for itself this week— it churned out a new faceplate for the print head casing.

Kickstarter Funding to Pay for Moon Trip

November 20, 2014 2:00 pm | by The Conversation, Mahesh Anand | News | Comments

A British-led consortium has announced an ambitious space mission named Lunar Mission One that plans to land a robotic probe in the southern polar region of the moon in about a decade. The project will be solely funded by money raised through donations from the public. In order to achieve this, the project is using the funding platform Kickstarter to finance the next phase of development.

Gravity May Have Saved Universe in the Beginning

November 18, 2014 2:00 pm | by Imperial College London | News | Comments

Studies have suggested that the production of Higgs particles during the accelerating expansion of the very early universe should have led to instability and collapse. Now, a team has described how the space-time curvature– in effect, gravity– provided the stability needed for the universe to survive expansion.

Image of the Week: How Men, Women Adapt Differently to Spaceflight

November 18, 2014 7:00 am | by NASA | News | Comments

A new diagram shows the key differences between men and women in cardiovascular, immunologic, sensorimotor, musculoskeletal and behavioral adaptations to human spaceflight.

Scientists: Sun Will Wake Comet Lander

November 17, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Frank Jordans | News | Comments

There is a strong chance Europe's comet lander will wake up from hibernation as it nears the sun, raising hopes for a second series of scientific measurements from the surface next year, scientists involved in the mission said today. Shortly before its primary battery ran out, ESA decided to attempt to tilt the lander's biggest solar panel toward the sun— a last-ditch maneuver that scientists believe may have paid off.

Comet Lander Starts Drilling, But Batteries a Worry

November 14, 2014 2:26 pm | by Associated Press, Geir Moulson | News | Comments

The good news: The spacecraft that landed on a comet has begun drilling beneath the surface to see what secrets the celestial body can reveal. The bad news: Scientists at the European Space Agency still don't know exactly where the lander is on the comet and are anxiously hoping its batteries hold out long enough for them to get the mining data and adjust the spacecraft's position.

Meteorite Grains Tell Shocking Tale of Solar System Birth

November 14, 2014 7:00 am | by Arizona State Univ. | News | Comments

The most accurate laboratory measurements yet made of magnetic fields trapped in grains within a primitive meteorite are providing important clues to how the early solar system evolved. The measurements point to shock waves traveling through the cloud of dusty gas around the newborn Sun as a major factor in solar system formation.

Sunspot is Back and Worse than Ever

November 13, 2014 7:00 am | by The Conversation, Paul Cally | Videos | Comments

The largest sunspot seen in 24 years is rotating back to face the Earth, and it looks to have grown even bigger. Last month, the solar active region known as AR12192 entertained the world with the sunspot clearly visible to the naked eye as it produced a series of large flares. But, after spending some time over on the far side of the sun, it hasn’t finished impressing us yet.

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