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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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Cassini Spacecraft Makes Its Final Approach to Saturn

Cassini has begun transmitting data — including the final images taken by its imaging cameras — in advance of its final plunge into Saturn on Sept. 15. The spacecraft is in the process of emptying its onboard solid-state recorder of all science data, prior to reconfiguring for a near-real-time data relay during the final plunge. Read More

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Cassini Looks on as Solstice Arrives at Saturn

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft still has a few months to go before it completes its mission in September, but the veteran Saturn explorer reaches a new milestone today. Saturn’s solstice — that is, the longest day of summer in the northern hemisphere and the shortest day of winter in the southern hemisphere — arrives today for Read More

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NASA’s New Horizons, IAU Set Pluto Naming Themes

From NASA: In 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 Read More

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NASA Mars Orbiter Views Rover Climbing Mount Sharp

From NASA: Using the most powerful telescope ever sent to Mars, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter caught a view of the Curiosity rover this month amid rocky mountainside terrain. The car-size rover, climbing up lower Mount Sharp toward its next destination, appears as a blue dab against a background of tan rocks and dark sand in 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