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August Set To Be Active Month For Skywatchers

A young man in Turkey enjoys the 2006 solar eclipse. Image credit Oregon Live

August promises to be a good month for skywatchers, who can enjoy a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse, and the Perseid meteor shower. With some advance preparation and clear skies, serious skywatchers should be able to get some impressive photography and make some memories with friends and family. Solar eclipses and lunar eclipses tend to occur in pairs. In this …

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Titan More Likely to Contain Life with Discovery of Cellular Membrane Components

Vinyl cyanide is the latest "life-friendly" compound found on Titan. Image credit Daily Galaxy

On Earth, most cellular membranes consist of a category of fatty molecules known as lipids. However, lipids won’t work as a protective layer for cells on Saturn’s moon, Titan, due to its hydrocarbon-rich weather system and extreme temperatures that average negative 290 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 180 degrees Celsius). A team of scientists believe that they have found an alternative molecule …

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NASA Searching For A Planetary Protection Officer

A technician ensures that a spacecraft's components are properly cleaned. Image credit Softpedia

NASA is currently looking for a planetary protection officer whose duties will include protecting the planets of the solar system, including Earth, against foreign contamination and a possible “alien superbug” invasion. The job duties include the oversight and execution of NASA’s planetary protection policies, as well as advising senior NASA officials on the feasibility of preventing planetary contamination, given the …

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First Exomoon Candidate Detected, And It’s Huge!

An artist's conception of another star system, which includes exoplanets and exomoons.

A team of astronomers have announced that they may have spotted the first evidence of a moon orbiting an exoplanet. The planet in question orbits the star Kepler-1625, about 4,000 light-years away, and is about the size of Jupiter. The planet dubbed Kepler-1625b is a lot denser at 10 times Jupiter’s mass. The moon? It’s about the size and mass …

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Nobel Laureates Speak Out Against Anti-Science Movement

A snapshot of the 67th annual Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting. Image credit lindau-nobel.org

Most reasonable people understand that science in its pure form is about the pursuit of facts and theories that are supported by the available facts. However, as the Nobel laureates who attended the 67th annual  Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting on June 25-30 noted, there are people who do not support science purely because the scientific process do not support their political agenda. …

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Mars Mission Planners Plan Halt In Sending Commands To Probes

Mars mission planners for NASA have planned a communications blackout period to account for difficulties created by a conjunction. image credit Earthsky

NASA has announced that mission planners for the various Mars probes have called for a moratorium in sending transmissions to Mars from July 22 to August 1. This coincides with Mars’ conjunction with the sun on July 27th. A conjunction occurs when an object appears to be at its closest point to the sun, as seen from Earth. Having had to …

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Juno Takes Close-Up Of Great Red Spot

Jupiter's Great Red Spot on July 10, 2017. Angle and enhanced shadow contrast reveals cloud layers!

(NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Jason Major)

At 10pm EDT on Monday, Juno took close-up pictures of Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot and pointed its scientific instruments at the gigantic storm to create an effective 3D image that would tell scientists more about the mechanics of the storm. The pictures were taken at the low altitude of 5,600 miles above the top of the Great Red Spot. …

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Uranus May Have A Really Weird Magnetic Field

An artist's rendering of Voyager 2's Uranus flyby. Image credit DrewExMachina

Life on Earth benefits from having a stable magnetosphere that protects our planet from the solar wind. If we had to rely on Uranus’s magnetic field, however, we would have been in trouble because a new analysis of data from Voyager 2’s flyby of Uranus suggests that the planet’s magnetosphere may flicker like a light bulb that is about to …

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