Tagged With astronomy

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If we ever get proof of past life on Mars, it will come in the form of biosignatures, fingerprints that could only have been left by living organisms. We're a long way from finding that smoking gun evidence, but an analysis of silica minerals discovered by NASA's Spirit rover pushes us one step closer. Because of their similarity to silica deposits shaped by microbial life on Earth, these intriguing Martian minerals are now being called a "potential biosignature".

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Placed on Earth, it would stretch from Washington DC to New York to Denver. Larger than the Grand Canyon, wider and deeper than East Africa's Great Rift Valley, Mercury's newly-discovered "Great Valley" boggles the imagination. But it's more than size that makes this geologic feature remarkable. The Great Valley may be our best evidence that Mercury's entire crust is contracting.

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The men and women who came up with the 88 officially-recognised constellations definitely had richer imaginations than I do. I don't see animals, dragons and centaurs when I look at the night sky, and I'm generally OK with that. Still, when I came across this new celestial map, I got a small taste of the wonder the ancient Greeks must have felt gazing at the stars.

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Video: Instead of sticking his camera's lens in the eyepiece of a powerful telescope peering into the heavens, filmmaker Thomas Vanz captured this stunning footage of what looks like a giant star going all supernova by actually pointing his camera at a glass aquarium filled with colourful inks and water.

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Last night, photographers around the world turned their cameras to the sky to capture the closest full moon — also known as a supermoon — since 1948. We've scoured the web to bring you some of our favourite photos of the celestial event that took our minds off the current state of world affairs for a few blissful minutes.

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NASA's Juno mission is not exactly proceeding according to plan. Last month, an engine burn that would have brought the Jupiter-orbiting spacecraft into a low-altitude orbit was delayed following a malfunction with a pair of helium valves. Now, NASA has confirmed that the next opportunity to enter "science orbit" will also be missed - and that may be the case for the foreseeable future.

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Entire lifetimes have come and gone without the moon looking quite as large as it will this month. On November 14, skygazers will witness the closest full moon, or "supermoon", of 2016. But more excitingly, it will be the closest full moon since 1948 - and we won't get another one like it until 2034.

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Millions of years ago, B3 1715+425 was just an ordinary supermassive black hole. It had a comfortable life, of devouring stars and belching deadly X-rays, at the centre of its distant galaxy. Now, starless and alone, it's screaming through space at 3219km per second — and it may never stop.

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As a bitter, multi-year battle over the legality of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) rages on, an alternate path forward has begun to emerge. The world's largest telescope may not wind up on the frosty peak of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, but instead it might be placed in Spain's Canary Islands. It'd be a loss for astronomy, but a major win for Hawaiian cultural practitioners who don't want their sacred mountain marred by gigantic machines.