Test for Damp Ground at Mars' Seasonal Streaks Finds None, Reports NASA JPL

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A Mars science news update from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California.

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You didn't find a meteorite

Randy L. Korotev from the Washington U in St Louis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences presents this handy flowchart (based on this one by Deborah Guedes) for deflating your excitement at having found rock that may be a meteorite but almost certainly isn't. Today's XKCD offers a handy abridgment if you find this one excessive. Read the rest

Fun retro-future space posters

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Lynx Art Collection has some fun retro-future space posters in their collection, like this one titled Astronaut Hang Time. They also have a bunch of cool travel posters, like this one for Mars: Read the rest

Earth-like planet "might" be orbiting Proxima Centauri, "only" 4 light years away

NASA/Penn State University

In interstellar terms, it couldn't be closer: an Earth-like world orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest sun to our own. Moreover, it's in the system's habitable zone, raising the possibility of liquid water and the conditions to sustain life. But don't get too excited...

Although media reports say the rumored planet orbits in a region that’s potentially favorable for life, these smaller stars are less stable, and Proxima Centauri is known to have violent flares at times. Its occasional tantrums have made astronomers skeptical of finding life around red dwarf stars in the past.

However, skepticism has softened some in recent years, and SETI recently launched a major initiative to search for life around 20,000 red dwarfs, as these stars are the most common in the Milky Way galaxy.

One of the most popular locations in science fiction, a habitable world at Proxima Centauri (or, rather, a generation ship headed for it) was most recently tackled in Ascension.

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Kepler Space Telescope Watches Stellar Dancers in the Pleiades Cluster

This image shows the famous Pleiades cluster of stars as seen through the eyes of WISE, or NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Here's a wonderful feature about my favorite constellation and the galaxy's most awesome telescope (at least one of them!) from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

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Luna's prime real-estate and how to seize it

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Though 1967's Outer Space Treaty says no country can lay claim to the moon (and thus no person can get a deed to lunar territory), the treaty does allow for commercial and scientific installations on Luna, and there are some very small, very valuable bits of crater rim that could be squatted in this way, to the enormous benefit of whomever gets there first (and the detriment of all others). Read the rest

NASA publishes 44,000 Mars surface images

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The HiRise imager in orbit around Mars shoots a continuous stream of data about its surface our way. Nasa's posted 44,000 images so far, each available in all sorts of formats and projections. You could have one a day as your desktop background and never run out.

Gullies in Dunes Dubbed Kolhar.

Yardangs South of Olympus Mons

Crater-Exposed Rocks of Yalgoo Crater in Isidis Basin Read the rest

The 2016 Perseid meteor shower peaks August 11-12. Here's how to watch!

Perseid meteors light up the sky in August 2009 in this time-lapse image  [NASA-JPL]
The Perseid meteor shower originates from the Swift-Tuttle comet, and is visible now through until August 24, 2016. The show is seen viewed from a northeastern direction in the northern hemisphere.

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NASA’s High Dynamic Range Stereo X camera captures rocket test in breathtaking detail

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This is cool as hell. “While thousands turned out to watch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) recently complete a full-scale test of its booster, few were aware of the other major test occurring simultaneously.” NASA’s High Dynamic Range Stereo X (HiDyRS-X) camera project captured the test like we've never seen before, and recorded propulsion video data in unprecedented detail.

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Simulations of black holes eating one another

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Black holes swoop around one another in a slow, elegant dance, their orbits mo—THWUP! *belching noise*

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Video of one year on Earth, from one million miles away

One million miles from Earth, hanging in space between Earth's gravitational pull and the sun's, is the DSCOVR satellite and NASA's incredible EPIC camera. Every two hours, EPIC takes a photo of Earth "to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth." The above video combines one year of those images.

From the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center:

The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.

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High-res 3-D model of Apollo 11 command module to explore and print

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You can download a high-res model of a 3D scan of the command module “Columbia.” Read the rest

Smithsonian launches online Apollo 11 high-res 3D spacecraft model for moon landing's 47th anniversary

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One great way to commemorate the 47th anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 moon landing, which took place this day in 1969, is to travel to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC (highly recommended!), and see in person the "Columbia" spacecraft that carried astronauts to the moon. But for those of us who can't get to DC and are feeling the O.G. space spirit, starting today you can explore a virtual reality simulation of the capsule's interior, painstakingly digitized by Smithsonian staff.

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Twinkly, LED-studded bracelet featuring the Hubble's "celestial fireworks"

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Thinkgeek's $60 Star Spangled Bangle is skinned with the Hubble's amazing "celestial fireworks" image, with 15 recessed USB-charged LEDs run for 8 hours and recharge in an hour. (via Ohgizmo) Read the rest

1,300 Unknown Galaxies Discovered By South African Astronomers

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A group of South African astronomers announced on Saturday the discovery of more than a thousand galaxies never before known to have been seen or recorded by human beings. The astronomers “were showing off the first taste of the ultimate cosmic feast of what is to come, at least as seen from this particular dusty crumb called Earth,” writes Dennis Overbye at the New York Times:

Left: A patch of sky about as big as the full moon where the MeerKAT telescope discerned the radio glow of about 200 galaxies. Only a few (circled) had been previously observed; Right: A distant galaxy that is being blown up by a black hole at its center. Credit SKA South Africa

When it’s done, sometime around 2030, the Square Kilometer Array, as it is known, will be the largest telescope ever built on our planet. It will consist of thousands of radio antennas that will collectively cover a square kilometer (hence the name), spread out in mathematically intricate patterns in South Africa and Australia.

The telescope is being built by an international collaboration with its headquarters at the University of Manchester in England. The first phase, to be completed in 2023, will cost 650 million euros.

Astronomers estimate that it will pull some 35,000-DVDs-worth of data down from the sky every second. So much that it would take 2 million years to play on your smartphone.

For now the bounty consists of the radio glow of some 1,300 distant galaxies spotted in a patch of sky about 20 times the size of the full moon, where only 70 galaxies had been counted before.

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Juno probe sends first Jupiter pic back to Earth

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Having successfully slipped into orbit around Jupiter, Juno sent its first image back to Earth.

NASA on Tuesday released an image taken by the satellite on Sunday from a distance of 2.7 million miles; it even shows the Great Red Spot, though the famous storm has been shrinking in recent decades and may not be as great as it once was.

“We’re quite pleased that we survived going through Jupiter orbit insertion,” said Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, a scientist at Planetary Science Institute in Tucson who is responsible for the operation of the camera. “The fact it’s a beautiful image is already a good thing.”

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Apollo 11 sourcecode on Github

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Though the code for Apollo 11's "Apollo Guidance Computer" has been online since 2003, when Ron Burkey rekeyed it from the scans that Gary Neff had uploaded, ex-NASA intern Chris Garry's posting of the code to Github last week has precipitated a widespread interest in the code, along with close scrutiny of the code itself. Read the rest

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