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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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New Horizons Refines Course for Next Flyby

Artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft conducting a flyby study of its next target – 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object orbiting a billion miles beyond Pluto – on Jan. 1, 2019. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI/Steve Gribben Telemetry confirming that the engine burn went as planned reached the New Horizons mission operations center at the Johns 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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Curiosity Rover Team Examining New Drill Hiatus

Mission Status Report NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is studying its surroundings and monitoring the environment, rather than driving or using its arm for science, while the rover team diagnoses an issue with a motor that moves the rover’s drill. Curiosity is at a site on lower Mount Sharp selected for what would be the mission’s 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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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