Lovejoy the Comet

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Via NASA:

Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, is framed like a cosmic Christmas tree with starry decorations in this colorful telescopic portrait, snapped on December 16th. Its lovely coma is tinted green by diatomic C2 gas fluorescing in sunlight. Discovered in August of this year, this Comet Lovejoy is currently sweeping north through the constellation Columba, heading for Lepus south of Orion and bright enough to offer good binocular views. Not its first time through the inner Solar System, this Comet Lovejoy will pass closest to planet Earth on January 7,

India's GSLV Mk III Rocket

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India's GSLV Mk III rocket lifts off on its maiden voyage December 18, 2014 at 11:00 PM EST (9:30AM Indian Standard Time).

The flight was a complete success, testing the new rocket's flight profile, avionics systems and booster technology.

Two S200 solid fuel motors propelled the vehicle off the launch pad, followed by the liquid fuelled L110 core stage. The rocket will eventually boast a cryogenic third stage which will place payloads in their desired orbits.

The Hell Is That?

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Via NASA:

Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors of molecular clouds some of the coldest and most isolated places in the universe. One of the most notable of these dark absorption nebulae is a cloud toward the constellation Ophiuchus known as Barnard 68, pictured above. That no stars are visible in the center indicates that Barnard 68 is relatively nearby, with measurements placing it about 500 light-years away and half a light-year across. It is not known exactly how molecular clouds like Barnard 68 form, but it is known that these clouds are themselves likely places for new stars to form.

DNA Can Make a Flight to Space and Back

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The genetic material DNA can survive a flight through space and re-entry into Earth's atmosphere -- and still pass on genetic information. A team of scientists from UZH obtained these astonishing results during an experiment on the TEXUS-49 research rocket mission.
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