Today's "Planet Earth Report" --66-Million Years Ago an Asteroid the Size of Mt Everest Killed Off Dinosaurs (But Not Other Birds)

 
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“A lot of people have focused quite intensively on trying to understand what went extinct [at the end of the Cretaceous],” says Daniel Field, from the University of Bath. “But we know very little about how or why birds managed to sneak across.” In a new study, Field and his colleagues have shown that the species that made it through the extinction event mostly lived on the ground, as modern chickens do today. They walked and strutted into the future, while their relatives that perched in branches and flew through trees largely died out—because many of those branches and trees were on fire.

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"Explore an Exoplanet" --Take a Virtual Visit to an Alien World Via NASA's Exoplanet Site

 

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On NASA's new Exoplanet Exploration website, you can explore an imagined surface of an alien world via 360-degree, interactive visualizations. As you investigate each planet's surface, you'll discover fascinating features, like the blood-red sky of TRAPPIST-1d, or stand on a hypothetical moon of the massive planet Kepler-16b, which appears larger than either of the planet's two suns. The view from each planet's surface is an artist's impression based on the limited data that is available; no real photos of these planets exist.

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"It's Massive!" --Our Milky Way Galaxy May Be Twice as Big as Previously Thought

 

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It's no secret that the Milky Way is huge, long thought to be about 100,000 light-years end to end with about 200 billion stars and their orbiting planets, but new research shows that it may be much bigger than we ever imagined --a vast rotating disk of stars spans at least 170,000 light-years, and possibly up to 200,000 light-years.

 

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Gigantic Impact Shaped Ancient Mars --"4.4 Billion Year-Old Meteorite Found in the Sahara Reveals Clues"

 

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"If the Martian crustal dichotomy formed as a result of a giant impact, and available data and modeling suggest this is likely, the history of NWA 7034 requires that it formed very early in the planet's history, before 4.4 billion years ago," said Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory cosmochemist Bill Cassata.

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Currently In a Danger Zone? --"The Solar System Has Completed 20–25 Orbits of the Milky Way Since Origin of Humans"

 
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Our orbit through the Milky Way is not a perfect circle or an ellipse, since the galaxy itself is a landscape of undulating concentrations of mass and complex gravitational fields. As Caleb Scharf observes in The Copernicus Complex, "none of the components of the galaxy are stationary; they, too, are orbiting and drifting in a three-dimensional ballet. The result is that our solar system, like billions of others, must inevitably encounter patches of interstellar space containing the thicker molecular gases and microscopic dust grains of nebulae. It takes tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years to pass through one of these regions.

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Evolution Theory Nixed --"Uniquely Human Muscles Discovered in Apes"

 

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"Most theories of human evolution give the impression that humans are markedly distinct from apes anatomically, but these are unverifiable 'just-so stories'. The real evidence shows we are not so different overall. This study highlights that a thorough knowledge of ape anatomy is necessary for a better understanding of our own bodies and evolutionary history."

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The Most Amazing Observation Ever of a Pulsar --"Like Being Able to See a Flea on Pluto"

 
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A team of astronomers has performed one of the highest resolution observations in astronomical history by observing two intense regions of radiation, 20 kilometers apart, around a star 6500 light-years away. The observation is equivalent to using a telescope on Earth to see a flea on the surface of Pluto. The extraordinary observation was made possible by the rare geometry and characteristics of a pair of stars orbiting each other. One is a cool, lightweight star called a brown dwarf, which features a "wake" or comet-like tail of gas. The other is an exotic, rapidly spinning star called a pulsar.

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Today's Top Space Headline --"Ghost Planet is Hiding in the Depths of Our Solar System"

 

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“It has a real magnetism to it,” said Gregory Laughlin, an astronomer at Yale University. “I mean, finding a 10-Earth-mass planet in our own solar system would be a discovery of unrivaled scientific magnitude.”

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The Search for Dark Galaxies

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Dark galaxies are essentially devoid of stars, therefore they don’t emit any light that telescopes can catch. This makes them virtually impossible to observe unless they are illuminated by an external light source like a background quasar.  The gargantuan quasar shown above is 800 million times the mass of the Sun was discovered 13 billion light-years away.

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Today's "Planet Earth Report" --Squad of Antarctica Seals Predicting Global Sea Level Rise

 

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A squad of seals living off the coast of West Antarctica has provided scientists with data that could help to improve estimates of future sea-level rise. Researchers equipped the rolly-poly marine mammals with sensors that measured temperature and salinity in the Amundsen Sea. This remote and understudied patch of ocean could be accelerating the melt of the West Antarctic ice sheet, so year-round information on water conditions is key to predicting the ice sheet’s contribution to the world’s rising oceans.

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