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‘X’ marks a curious corner on Pluto’s icy plains

© Afrim Constantin –

“X” marks the spot of some intriguing surface activity in the latest picture of Pluto returned from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. Transmitted to Earth on 24 December, this image from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) extends New Horizons’ highest-resolution views of Pluto to the very centre of Sputnik Planum, the informally named icy plain

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The case of the missing quasar

© Afrim Constantin –

Astronomers can’t find any sign of the black hole at the centre of the quasar SDSS J1011+5442, and they couldn’t be happier. The black hole is still there, of course, but over the past ten years, it appears to have swallowed all the gas in its vicinity. With the gas fallen into the black hole,

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Ancient gas cloud may be a relic from the death of first stars

© Afrim Constantin –

Researchers from Australia and the USA have discovered a distant, ancient cloud of gas that may contain the signature of the very first stars that formed in the universe, in research to be published next week in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The research was undertaken by Dr. Neil Crighton and Professor Michael

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NASA’s CORAL Campaign Will Raise Reef Studies to a New Level

© Afrim Constantin –

A new three-year NASA field expedition gets underway this year that will use advanced instruments on airplanes and in the water to survey more of the world’s coral reefs in far greater detail than has ever been assessed before. The COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) will measure the condition of these threatened ecosystems and create

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NASA TV to Air News Briefing on Upcoming Spacewalk

© Afrim Constantin –

NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will host a briefing at 2 p.m. EST (1 p.m. CST) on Tuesday, Jan. 12, to preview the tasks and preparation for a spacewalk by astronauts living aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The briefing and spacewalk will air live on NASA Television, and be streamed on NASA’s website.

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NASA Research Could Save Commercial Airlines Billions in New Era of Aviation

© Afrim Constantin –

The nation’s airlines could realize more than $250 billion dollars in savings in the near future thanks to green-related technologies developed and refined by NASA’s aeronautics researchers during the past six years. These new technologies, developed under the purview of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project, could cut airline fuel use in half, pollution by

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Measuring the pull of gravity at the surface of distant stars

© Afrim Constantin –

Researchers have found a new way to measure the pull of gravity at the surface of a star. For distant stars with planets orbiting them, this information is key in determining whether any of those planets can harbour life. The new method is described in a study just published in Science Advances. The research was

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European Mars probe arrives at launch site

© Afrim Constantin –

Click on image to make it bigger Credit: Infographic created by Afrim Constantin COPYRIGHT 2015 © spacefan.org

No. 4 A planet like Earth?

© Afrim Constantin –

There was great media excitement in July when it was announced that the Kepler Space Telescope had discovered the most Earth-like planet yet, but appearances can be deceiving. Called Kepler-452b, the exoplanet is 60 percent larger than Earth, but crucially, orbits in its star’s habitable zone, which is a region around the star where the

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