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  • illustration of New Horizons journey to Pluto
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  • Feature

    Rendezvous with Pluto

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    Tiny, far-flung Pluto is about to have a visitor — at least for a few hours.

    On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will reach the dwarf planet and try to learn all it can about Pluto and its five known moons. Then the probe will leave Pluto behind, vanishing into the frigid darkness beyond the planets.

    In its wake, New Horizons will introduce Earth to the...

    06/12/2015 - 11:55 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Feature

    The long and winding Colorado

    Standing on a mesa high above the town of Rifle, Colo., Andres Aslan is having a hard time staying quiet. The lanky geologist from nearby Colorado Mesa University normally speaks in a low-key professorial drone. But here, looking down at a sprawling river valley blazing with autumnal cottonwoods, his enthusiasm cranks up his volume. “This could be it,” says Aslan, gesticulating wildly. “This...

    01/10/2014 - 14:00 Earth, Planetary Science
  • Feature

    Deep network

    Gas bubbles effervesce from a mound of muck on the seafloor in a deep submarine canyon off the west coast of Canada. Microbes beneath the sediment belch the bubbles after feasting on the ancient remains of algae, sea critters and their poop: a primordial stew that’s been simmering since long before humans walked the Earth.

    This gassy oasis attracts an odd collection of critters. Worms...

    10/04/2013 - 15:00 Earth, Technology
  • Feature

    Danger in the Air

    On Dec. 15, 1989, KLM flight 867 from Amsterdam was approaching its destination in Anchorage, Alaska, when the plane flew into what appeared to be a thin layer of normal clouds. Suddenly, according to flight-crew reports, it got very dark outside and the air in the cockpit filled with a brownish dust and the unmistakable smell of sulfur. One minute after beginning a high-power climb to escape...

    09/08/2009 - 10:14 Earth
  • News

    Salmon study: Dammed or not

    There could be little difference in how young salmon survive their journey down a free-flowing river versus the heavily dammed Columbia River system, says a controversial new study.

    A new system for tagging small fish allows biologists to monitor young salmon migration survival in a big, undammed river for the first time, David Welch of Kintama Research Corporation...

    10/27/2008 - 18:57 Life & Evolution, Other
  • News

    In the moon’s shadow

    On August 1, the moon cast its shadow on Earth while passing directly between the planet and the sun during a total solar eclipse. For several minutes, the moon blocked the majority of the sun’s light.

    The shadow of this particular eclipse swept across Earth in a slim path that stretched from northern Canada to northern China. People in parts of Canada, northern Greenland, the Arctic,...

    08/04/2008 - 17:17 Atom & Cosmos
  • Feature

    Biological Moon Shot

    Richard Pyle hasn't gotten a congratulatory crate of free diapers. But he's one of the fathers, in a sense, of the first fish species named in 2008. Quintuplet species even. The journal Zootaxa posted descriptions of five damselfish on Jan. 1 that Pyle and his colleagues at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu found using a specialized mix of gases to push beyond the depth limits of conventional...

    01/29/2008 - 11:13 Other
  • News

    Crowcam: Camera on bird's tail captures bird ingenuity

    Biologists studying tool use in a tropical crow species have fastened tiny video cameras to the birds and recorded their search for food.

    "We are the first ones to do this on wild birds," says Christian Rutz of the University of Oxford in England. He and his Oxford colleagues attached cameras to the tail feathers of New Caledonian crows so that the devices look...

    10/03/2007 - 13:56 Animals
  • News

    Searchers capture a champion megaprime

    A participant in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) has identified the largest prime number yet. When printed out, its digits would fill more than 450 pages of Science News.

    Discovered by 20-year-old Michael Cameron of Owen Sound, Ontario, the new champion prime is 213,466,917 – 1, which runs to 4,053,946 decimal digits.

    A prime is a whole number evenly divisible by...

    12/11/2001 - 11:14 Numbers
  • Feature

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    02/27/1999 - 00:00