Tagged With space

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Planets sort of look like big basketballs in space, floating around aimlessly. Sometimes they have rings. Other times, they look like gnocchi. More or less, to the average stargazer, planets have roughly the same shape — but a pair of scientists has just thrown a most delicious curveball into this whole equation. Apparently, doughnut planets might be a thing.

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It's almost certainly not aliens, but once again, Tabby's Star is acting hella weird. The star that first became our planetary obsession back in the spring of 2015 — when astronomer Jason Wright suggested its weird flickering behaviour might be the result of an alien megastructure — is, once again, flickering. But unlike previous stellar glitches, astronomers are now prepared to study it in the act.

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Lots of people really want to go to Mars. Some of them want to live on that barren litter box forever, which sounds exciting, but would probably suck. The thing about a Martian colony is that people would have to be able to reproduce there in order to keep it going — and luckily for those hopeful pioneers, a team of Japanese scientists have achieved an important first step toward making their pipe dream a reality.

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"We turned the telescope into the Sauron of space – the all-seeing eye," says CSIRO's Dr Keith Bannister, gleefully referring to the dark overlord in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

What he's describing (in gloriously geeky fashion) is how the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) on Wajarri Yamatji country near Geraldton in Western Australia has found its first "fast radio burst" from space - after less than four days of searching.

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Good news! Three space telescopes, including Hubble, have combined their celestial powers to spot a moon orbiting a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt — the region beyond Neptune where Pluto and countless other icy bodies live. According to NASA, the dwarf planet's moon has a lot to teach scientists about how moons formed in the early solar system — but sadly, it has no name. Its planet's name, on the other hand, is garbage — 2007 OR10 and its satellite friend desperately need some rebranding.

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The overdrawn game of nuclear chicken between the USSR and the United States — now known as the Cold War — lasted about 45 years. While neither superpower ever deployed nukes on each others' soil, high-altitude bomb testing caused a kerfuffle in Earth's atmosphere. Though the conflict has (thankfully) long since ended, newly declassified information suggests it might have impacted space weather in ways we never anticipated.

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Ever since astronomers announced the discovery of an Earth-sized exoplanet less than five light years down the cosmic street, the question on every good space cadet's mind has been whether or not we can colonise it. We aren't going to know if Proxima b is habitable until we can point some very powerful telescopes at it, which won't happen until next year. But until then, scientists are playing around with models — and one such modelling effort recently came to some promising conclusions.

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Rockets are big, shiny hunks of metal that do extraordinary things — but you'd probably never call one "cute". Kittens are cute. Quokkas? Definitely. But rockets, not so much — except for this little guy, from New Zealand-based startup Rocket Lab. Its name is Electron, and after years of preparation, its's finally gearing up to launch as soon as next week.

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In 59 years, NASA has flown more than 50 women into space. That might seem like a reasonable number, but when you consider the space agency has flown hundreds of men over the same time period, it's a tad unsettling. If we ever want to actually colonise a planet like Mars, we're going to have bring hundreds of women, or thousands.

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Two hundred tangos in space and counting: Today, NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer are performing the 200th American spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS). NASA is streaming the entire four hour endeavour on its channel.

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The only thing worse than getting struck by lightning or a large, flying bird is getting struck by a meteorite. Thankfully, the chances of this happening to you are incredibly low — according to National Geographic, there is only one confirmed case of a meteorite striking a person. So perhaps it's no surprise that a piece of the offending space rock, called "Sylacauga" after the town it landed in, just sold today for one hell of a price tag.

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With Ridley Scott's latest instalment in his classic Alien franchise, now's the perfect time to wildly speculate about extraterrestrials. In Alien: Covenant and so many other movies like it, our cosmic neighbours turn out to be real arseholes. They're always trying to conquer Earth, or eat humans, or do other weird stuff, like hunt Arnold Schwarzenegger in the jungle. If you aren't Arnold Schwarzenegger, this usually ends pretty badly.

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On Thursday, May 4, Hubble dropped a "cute" press release comparing a new image of a galaxy cluster to the Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. It was a timely yet mega-dad corny way to make the image of the galaxy cluster Abell 370 seem relevant. While there's literally no connection between the James Gunn movie and the galaxy cluster, located roughly four billion light years away, that didn't stop literally everyone from trying to make this A Thing.

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The US Air Force's secretive X-37B spaceplane landed on May 7 after 718 days in orbit — just 12 days shy of a full two years. What was it doing up there in the sky? The government won't say. Even the spaceplane's budget is a secret. But the X-37B's landing wasn't so stealthy. The spaceplane caused a sonic boom that woke up people living near NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.