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NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Climbing Toward Ridge Top

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has begun the steep ascent of an iron-oxide-bearing ridge that’s grabbed scientists’ attention since before the car-sized rover’s 2012 landing. “We’re on the climb now, driving up a route where we can access the layers we’ve studied from below,” said Abigail Fraeman, a Curiosity science-team member at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Read More

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Pinpointing Where the Lights Went Out in Puerto Rico

After Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico, it quickly became clear that the destruction would pose daunting challenges for first responders. Most of the electric power grid and telecommunications network was knocked offline. Flooding, downed trees, and toppled power lines made many roads impassable. In circumstances like this, quickly knowing where the power is out—and how long Read More

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NASA’s New Horizons, IAU Set Pluto Naming Themes

n 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft delivered the first close-up views of Pluto and its five moons – amazing images of distant and surprisingly complex worlds, showing a vast nitrogen glacier as well as ice mountains, canyons, cliffs, craters and more. The IAU’s action clears the way for the mission team to propose formal names Read More

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Astronomers Confirm Orbital Details of TRAPPIST-1’s Least Understood Planet

cientists using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope identified a regular pattern in the orbits of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system that confirmed suspected details about the orbit of its outermost and least understood planet, TRAPPIST-1h. TRAPPIST-1 is only eight percent the mass of our sun, making it a cooler and less luminous star. It’s home Read More

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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Sharpens Paradox of Ancient Mars

Mars scientists are wrestling with a problem. Ample evidence says ancient Mars was sometimes wet, with water flowing and pooling on the planet’s surface. Yet, the ancient sun was about one-third less warm and climate modelers struggle to produce scenarios that get the surface of Mars warm enough for keeping water unfrozen. A leading theory Read More

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Asteroid to Fly Safely Past Earth on April 19

A relatively large near-Earth asteroid discovered nearly three years ago will fly safely past Earth on April 19 at a distance of about 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers), or about 4.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon. Although there is no possibility for the asteroid to collide with our planet, this will Read More

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NASA Orbiter Steers Clear of Mars Moon Phobos

NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft performed a previously unscheduled maneuver this week to avoid a collision in the near future with Mars’ moon Phobos. The Mars Atmosphere and VolatileEvolutioN (MAVEN)spacecraft has been orbiting Mars for just over two years, studying the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. On Tuesday the Read More

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A Colorful ‘Landing’ on Pluto

To create a movie that makes viewers feel as if they’re diving into Pluto, mission scientists had to interpolate some of the panchromatic (black and white) frames based on what they know Pluto looks like to make it as smooth and seamless as possible. Low-resolution color from the Ralph color camera aboard New Horizons was Read More

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Similar-Looking Ridges on Mars Have Diverse Origins

Thin, blade-like walls, some as tall as a 16-story building, dominate a previously undocumented network of intersecting ridges on Mars, found in images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The simplest explanation for these impressive ridges is that lava flowed into pre-existing fractures in the ground and later resisted erosion better than material around them. A Read More

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Mars Rover Views Spectacular Layered Rock Formations

The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images returned by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently exploring the “Murray Buttes” region of lower Mount Sharp. The new images arguably rival photos taken in U.S. National Parks. Curiosity took the images with its Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Sept. Read More