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  • Screentime

    Explore an asteroid with ‘Vesta Trek’

    Budding interplanetary explorers can satisfy their wanderlust with Vesta Trek, a web-based application that lets users explore the asteroid Vesta.

    The app uses data from the Dawn spacecraft, which orbited the asteroid from July 2011 to September 2012. Users can overlay maps of geology,...

    05/05/2015 - 07:00 Planetary Science
  • News

    Zipping to Mars could badly zap brain nerve cells

    Like cannonballs slamming into stained glass, high-energy particles can shatter the delicate tendrils that connect nerve cells, a study on mice finds. This neural destruction left mice with memory and learning problems, a finding that has implications for intrepid space explorers.

    The result is “worrisome, very worrisome,” says neuroscientist M. Kerry O’Banion of the University of...

    05/01/2015 - 14:00 Neuroscience, Particle Physics
  • Science Ticker

    MESSENGER mission ends with crash landing on Mercury

    The MESSENGER spacecraft crashed into the surface of Mercury on April 30, bringing its four-year exploration of the innermost planet to a meteoric finale. The planned rendezvous with the surface of the sun-scorched world came after the probe exhausted the last of its fuel and succumbed to gravity’s pull.

    Launched in 2004, MESSENGER is...

    04/30/2015 - 15:44 Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    Pluto’s landscapes come into view as New Horizons closes in

    The landscapes of Pluto are starting to take shape. Bright and dark regions rotate in and out of view in new images from the New Horizons spacecraft, scheduled to buzz Pluto on July 14. A bright spot at Pluto’s north pole might be a never-before-seen polar ice cap, researchers reported at a April 29 news conference. Mission scientists won’t know...

    04/29/2015 - 18:28 Planetary Science
  • News

    Cosmic rays illuminate lightning

    High-speed particles from space are helping to unravel a high-voltage mystery in the clouds.

    Astronomers have determined the strength of electric fields in thunderclouds by detecting the radio wave signature of cosmic ray particles striking the atmosphere. Reported April 24 in Physical Review Letters, the research...

    04/29/2015 - 12:00 Earth, Particle Physics
  • News

    Tiny explosions add up to heat corona

    A relentless onslaught of tiny explosions on the sun’s surface blast the solar atmosphere, researchers report. These eruptions, dubbed nanoflares, might help solve the long-standing riddle about why the sun’s corona is millions of degrees hotter than its surface.

    “This is a real breakthrough to solving one of most important problems in space science,” James Klimchuk, an astrophysicist at...

    04/29/2015 - 06:00 Astronomy
  • Feature

    The Martian Diaries

    04/28/2015 - 13:19 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Say What?

    Lit-up gas clouds hint at galaxies’ violent pasts

    Voorwerpje
    \FOHR-vehrp-yuh\ n.

    An intergalactic gas cloud still glowing after being blasted by ultraviolet radiation from a neighboring galaxy.

    Great globs of galactic gas are a fading reminder of a more vigorous past for some galaxies. Eight of these gas blobs, known as voorwerpjes (after the Dutch word for little objects), lie next to galaxies that show evidence of recent...

    04/24/2015 - 08:00 Astronomy
  • News

    Astronomers celebrating Hubble’s past focus on its future

    BALTIMORE — A technique for sniffing around in the atmospheres of supersized planets near super bright stars could also help the Hubble Space Telescope unravel the history of the universe.

    Hubble scientists developed a way to slowly scan the sky while collecting starlight so the telescope could explore the neighborhoods of stars that would otherwise be too bright for its sensitive...

    04/24/2015 - 06:00 Astronomy, Cosmology, Exoplanets
  • News in Brief

    Cosmic threesomes make some galaxies run away

    Galactic runaways called compact ellipticals may have been booted out of their homes by a stellar intruder. These small, dense galaxies are normally found cozied up to massive host galaxies that cannibalize their petite neighbors over billions of years. But a couple of strays have stumped astronomers, appearing millions of light-years away from any moochers.

    Igor Chilingarian and Ivan...

    04/23/2015 - 14:53 Astronomy