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The Extraterrestrial Mirror --"There's a Level of Predictability to Evolution that Aliens Would Look Like Us"

 

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"By predicting that aliens have undergone major transitions - which is how complexity has arisen in species on earth, we can say that there is a level of predictability to evolution that would cause them to look like us," said Sam Levin, a researcher in the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology.

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NASA's Eyes on Mars --"A Quantum Leap for Space-Exploration Photography"

 

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When NASA's Mars Pathfinder touched down in 1997, it had five cameras: two on a mast that popped up from the lander, and three on NASA's first rover, Sojourner. On the new rover, the engineering cameras have been upgraded to acquire high-resolution, 20-megapixel color images. Their lenses will also have a wider field of view. That's critical for the 2020 mission, which will try to maximize the time spent doing science and collecting samples.

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New Dark Matter Picture Puts the Big Bang on Trial -- "We're Looking At Things All Wrong"

 

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Newest dark matter map hints at where astrophysics must go for breakthroughs. Three astrophysicists discuss how the new results are testing the consensus view of the universe's history and challenging future generations of scientists to solve enduring cosmic mysteries. The unveiling this summer of the most accurate cosmic picture ever taken of the distribution of dark matter has left astrophysicists feeling both delighted and frustrated.

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NASA Reveals Record-Breaking Results of "Sci-Fi" Ion Engine -- "Manned Missions to Mars In Weeks On the Horizon" (WATCH Video)

 
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An advanced space engine in the running at NASA to propel humans to Mars has broken the records for operating current, power and thrust for a device of its kind, known as a Hall thruster, one of three Mars engine prototypes currently in development, that uses electric and magnetic fields to ionize gases like xenon and expels the ions to produce thrust, a much cleaner, safer and more fuel efficient than traditional chemical rockets, but with relatively low thrust and acceleration.

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The Alien Observatory --"Astronomers Lifting Black Veil From Dark Side of the Milky Way --"Harbors Uncharted Stars and Potential Life-Bearing Planets"

 

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“Optically, it’s like trying to look through a velvet cloth—black as black can be,” says Thomas Dame, Director of the Radio Telescope Data Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Senior Radio Astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. “In terms of tracing and understanding the spiral structure, essentially half of the Milky Way is terra incognita.”

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NASA Probes Mystery of Black Hole Jet Physics

 

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Black holes are famous for being ravenous eaters, but they do not eat everything that falls toward them. A small portion of material gets shot back out in powerful jets of hot gas, called plasma, that can wreak havoc on their surroundings. Along the way, this plasma somehow gets energized enough to strongly radiate light, forming two bright columns along the black hole's axis of rotation. Scientists have long debated where and how this happens in the jet.

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Freak Monster Planet Discovered Orbiting a Small, Faint Red Dwarf Star --"Confronts Current Theories"


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A giant planet, which should not exist according to planet formation theory, has been discovered around a distant star. 'NGTS-1b' however, is a 'gas giant' - due to its size and temperature, the planet is known as a 'hot Jupiter', a class of planets that are at least as large as our solar system's very own Jupiter, but with around 20% less mass. Unlike Jupiter however, NGTS-1b is very close to its star - just 3% of the distance between Earth and the Sun, and completes an orbit every 2.6 days, meaning a year on NGTS-1b lasts two and a half Earth-days.

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The Death Equation --"Evolution Has Made Aging Mathematically Inevitable"

 
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"People have looked at why aging happens, from the perspective of 'why hasn't natural selection stopped aging yet?' That's the question they ask, and implicitly in that is the idea that such a thing as non-aging is possible, so why haven't we evolved it? We're saying it's not just a question of evolution not doing it; it can't be done by natural selection or by anything else," said Joanna Masel, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and at the University of Arizona.

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Black Hole 'Death-Star' Beam Observed --"Brightest Outbursts of Light Ever Seen"

 

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They are nature's very own Death Star beams - ultra-powerful jets of energy that shoot out from the vicinity of black holes like deadly rays from the Star Wars super-weapon. Now a team of scientists led by the University of Southampton has moved a step closer to understanding these mysterious cosmic phenomena - known as relativistic jets - by measuring how quickly they 'switch on' and start shining brightly once they are launched.

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Monster Colliding Black Holes Lurking On the Edge of Our Milky Way Galaxy --"Should Be Rife There"

 
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The outskirts of spiral galaxies like our own could be crowded with colliding black holes of massive proportions and a prime location for scientists hunting the sources of gravitational waves, said researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology. The RIT study identifies an overlooked region that may prove to be rife with orbiting black holes and the origin of gravitational-wave chirps heard by observatories in the United States and Italy. Identifying the host galaxies of merging massive black holes could help explain how orbiting pairs of black holes form.

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