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NASA’s MAVEN Reveals Mars Has Metal in its Atmosphere

“MAVEN has made the first direct detection of the permanent presence of metal ions in the ionosphere of a planet other than Earth,” said Joseph Grebowsky of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Because metallic ions have long lifetimes and are transported far from their region of origin by neutral winds and electric 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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Saturn’s ‘Watercolor’ Swirls

From NASA: Saturn’s north polar region displays its beautiful bands and swirls, which somewhat resemble the brushwork in a watercolor painting. Each latitudinal band represents air flowing at different speeds, and clouds at different heights, compared to neighboring bands. Where they meet and flow past each other, the bands’ interactions produce many eddies and swirls. Read More

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NASA’s Juno Mission Exits Safe Mode, Performs Trim Maneuver

Mission Status Report NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter has left safe mode and has successfully completed a minor burn of its thruster engines in preparation for its next close flyby of Jupiter. Mission controllers commanded Juno to exit safe mode Monday, Oct. 24, with confirmation of safe mode exit received on the ground at 10:05 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

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X-ray Telescopes Find Evidence for Wandering Black Hole

Astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray observatory to discover an extremely luminous, variable X-ray source located outside the center of its parent galaxy. This peculiar object could be a wandering black hole that came from a small galaxy falling into a larger one. Astronomers think that supermassive black holes, with Read More

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Studies Find Echoes of Black Holes Eating Stars

Supermassive black holes, with their immense gravitational pull, are notoriously good at clearing out their immediate surroundings by eating nearby objects. When a star passes within a certain distance of a black hole, the stellar material gets stretched and compressed — or “spaghettified” — as the black hole swallows it. A black hole destroying a Read More

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Cassini Begins Epic Final Year at Saturn

After more than 12 years studying Saturn, its rings and moons, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has entered the final year of its epic voyage. The conclusion of the historic scientific odyssey is planned for September 2017, but not before the spacecraft completes a daring two-part endgame. Beginning on November 30, Cassini’s orbit will send the spacecraft Read More

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Jupiter’s North Pole Unlike Anything Encountered in Solar System

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first-ever images of Jupiter’s north pole, taken during the spacecraft’s first flyby of the planet with its instruments switched on. The images show storm systems and weather activity unlike anything previously seen on any of our solar system’s gas-giant planets. Juno successfully executed the first of 36 orbital Read More

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Glimpse of ‘Bagnold Dunes’ Edging Mount Sharp

The dark band in the lower portion of this Martian scene is part of the “Bagnold Dunes” dune field lining the northwestern edge of Mount Sharp, inside Gale Crater. The view combines multiple images taken with the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on Sept. 25, 2015, during the 1,115th Martian day, or Read More