Tagged With space

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Today NASA announced that a team of scientists has confirmed seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, a star located just 39 light-years away from our Sun. The six inner planets are very likely to be rocky, are roughly the same mass as Earth, and are thought to have comparable surface temperatures to our own planet. Three of the planets may even be able to support liquid water and perhaps, life.

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Discovered on October 28 1991, and sitting in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, this minor planet has - until now - been known as the relatively uninspiring "(6196) 1991 UO4".

But now, thanks to a team of Australians, its name is Bernard.

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On Saturday, February 18, a SpaceX Dragon capsule will shuttle a superbug into space that kills more Americans each year than emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's Disease and homicide combined: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as MRSA. It's on behalf of a study conducted by NASA and biomedicine company Nanobiosym, but I can't help but feel like this was Elon Musk's idea for a science fiction spec he's working on.

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NASA's Jupiter-orbiting Juno spacecraft hasn't been able to catch a break lately. This past October, Juno suffered a malfunction with a pair of helium valves, causing NASA to delay an engine burn that would have brought the spacecraft into its "science orbit". Today, after months of evaluation, NASA announced that it has decided to forgo that engine burn entirely. Juno will remain in its current 53.5-day orbit for the rest of its mission, which isn't the worst news, but it isn't great either.

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Since Pluto was infamously demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006, some astronomers have turned their attention to finding the true Planet 9, a hypothetical, Neptune-sized world that orbits the Sun at least a few hundred times further out than Earth. While there's no shortage of ideas about what Planet 9 could look like — or what it may have experienced throughout its life — so far, no one has been able to spot this elusive world.

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After much anticipation, NASA has finally released a shortlist of landing sites for its Mars rover mission slated for July 2020. The three finalists are Northeast Syrtis, which may have been warmed by volcanic activity; the Jezero Crater, which could be the remnants of a Martian lake; and Columbia Hills, which NASA's Spirit lander explored in early-to-mid 2000s. Though Jezero is reportedly the favourite among NASA scientists, in this case, it's the underdog that could be our best shot at finding hints at past or present life on the Red Planet — which is exactly what the 2020 mission seeks to do.