MIT's research on an ancient lunar rock suggests that the moon once harbored a long-lived dynamo — a molten, convecting core of liquid metal that generated a strong magnetic field 3.7 billion years ago. The findings, published today in Science, point to a dynamo that lasted much longer than scientists previously thought, and suggest that an alternative energy source may have powered the dynamo.
Continue reading "Was the Moon Once Powered by a Dynamo Core? MIT Research Says "Yes"" »
The question of whether normal matter's shadowy counterpart anti-matter exerts a kind of "anti-gravity" is soonto be answered, according to researchers at the University of California Riverside, who are getting closer to addressing the question once and for all. The team says it has prepared stable pairs of electrons and their anti-matter particles, positrons. A beam of these pairs can be used to finally solve the anti-gravity puzzle.
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A small asteroid the size of a city bus zoomed between Earth and the moon's orbit today, Friday Jan. 25, days after its discovery, but it never posed a threat to our planet, NASA says.The asteroid, 2012 BX34 passed within 36,750 miles (59,044 kilometers) of Earth when it made its closest approach at 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT). The space rock is about 37 feet (11 meters) wide and would have disintegrated in Earth's atmosphere long before it reached the ground, if it had reached the planet at all, NASA scientists said.
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A Naval Research Laboratory scientist is part of a team that has recently discovered that vast clouds of hot gas are "sloshing" in Abell 2052, a galaxy cluster located about 480 million light years from Earth. The scientists are studying the hot (30 million degree) gas using X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and optical data from the Very Large Telescope to see the galaxies.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: Massive Elliptical Galaxy & Cosmic Wave a Million Light years Long" »
The toxic protein mitoNEET -- a mysterious but important player in diabetes, cancer and aging -- draws the eye with a flurry of movement in one location while the subtle, more crucial action takes place somewhere else. Using a combination of laboratory experiments and computer modeling, scientists from Rice University and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have deciphered part of mitoNEET's movements to get a better understanding of how it handles its potentially toxic payload of iron and sulfur.
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In the past year astronomers have discovered smaller planets are more numerous and diverse than anyone has expected --"Searing hot planets with iron rain, atmospheres with 1,000 mile an hour winds, planetary systems with two suns, a planet that literally skims the surface of its star once every three months," reports Dimitar Sasselov, professor of astronomy at Harvard University.
NASA's Kepler mission's recent discoveries nearly double the number of verified Kepler planets and triple the number of stars known to have more than one planet that transits, or passes in front of, the star. Such systems will help astronomers better understand how planets form.
Continue reading "Search for Twin Earth Getting Hotter! --NASA Announces 11 New Planetary Systems Hosting 26 Confirmed Planets" »
Michael Crichton would have loved this: Bacteria common to spacecraft may be able to survive the harsh environs of Mars long enough to inadvertently contaminate the Red Planet with terrestrial life, "If long-term microbial survival is possible on Mars, then past and future explorations of Mars may provide the microbial inoculum for seeding Mars with terrestrial life," according to researchers from the University of Central Florida. "Thus, a diversity of microbial species should be studied to characterize their potential for long term survival on Mars." Off the record, many astrobiologists believe that we've already contaminated the planet.
Continue reading " "The Earth Strain" --Could NASA's 'Curiosity' Probe on Its Way to Mars Contaminate the Planet?" »
It's no accident that we see stars in the sky, says famed Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins: they are a vital part of any universe capable of generating us. But, as Dawkins emphasizes, that does not mean that stars exists in order to make us."It is just that without stars there would be no atoms heavier than lithium in the periodic table," Dawkins wrote in The Ancestors Tale -A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, "and a chemistry of only three elements is too impoverished to support life. Seeing is the kind of activity that can go on only in the kind of universe where what you see is stars."
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By studying how distant starburst galaxies are clustered together, astronomers have found that they eventually become so-called giant elliptical galaxies -- the most massive galaxies in today's universe. The galaxies are so distant that their light has taken around ten billion years to reach us, so we see them as they were about ten billion years ago.
Continue reading "New Discovery: Why the Most Massive Galaxies in Universe Suddenly Stopped Creating Stars Billions of Years Ago" »
A 'Blue Marble' image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite - Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed 'Suomi NPP' on January 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin, who is recognized widely as "the father of satellite meteorology."
Continue reading "Image of the Day: "Bright Blue Dot" --A Spectacular Life-Bearing Planet from Space " »