planet

Aliens awesome Astronomy science planet - 8152233472
Via Nature
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Astronomers have found the first Earth-sized exoplanet within a star's habitable zone. The planet is the closest thing yet to the coveted 'Goldilocks' orb that scientists have long sought — a world roughly the size of Earth orbiting a star at a distance that is just right for liquid water to exist.

"We definitely think it's one step closer to finding a true Sun–Earth analogue," says study co-author Elisa Quintana, an astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and at the nearby NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field. But because the star that the exoplanet orbits is a cool, dim one unlike the Sun, Quintana and her colleagues consider the planet more of a cousin to Earth than a twin.

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wobbly seasons science space planet - 8040322304
By Unknown
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Astronomers have discovered an alien planet that wobbles at such a dizzying rate that its seasons must fluctuate wildly.

Throughout all of the planet's fast-changing seasons, however, no forecast would be friendly to humans. The warm planet is a gassy super-Neptune that orbits too close to its two parent stars to be in its system's "habitable zone," the region where temperatures would allow liquid water, and perhaps life as we know it, to exist.
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ceres has some interesting spots
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Via: Scientific American:

Whatever you call may call it, Ceres is one of the most geologically interesting and strange objects in the solar system. Its shape, size and composition—round, roughly the size of Texas and at least 20 percent water ice—place it at the poorly understood transition point between rocky worlds like Earth and icy worlds like Jupiter’s Europa, Saturn’s Enceladus, and other large moons of the outer solar system. Other than blurry Hubble Space Telescope images from 2004, its surface had scarcely been glimpsed until Dawn’s approach. As the spacecraft’s ion engines slowly push it toward Ceres, the dwarf planet’s details are now coming into focus, revealing tantalizing new details with practically every new image.
hula hoop planet Saturn space - 6179965184
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Kids, don't hula hoop, or else giant gaseous planets will descend into our atmosphere and kill everyone. This has been your PSA for the day.

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Astronomy star birth science planet - 6941107968
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Astronomers studying a newborn star have caught a detailed glimpse of planets forming around it, revealing a never-before seen stage of planetary evolution.
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Astronomy earth science planet - 8330164736
Via Discovery
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About 500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus lives a star, which, though smaller and redder than the sun, has a planet that may look awfully familiar.

With a diameter just 10 percent bigger than Earth's, the newly found world is the first of its size found basking in the benign temperature region around a parent star where water, if it exists, could pool in liquid form.

Scientists on the hunt for Earth's twin are focused on worlds that could support liquid surface water, which may be necessary to brew the chemistry of life.
pluto flyby space planet - 8536709888
Via The Verge
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It took nine years and 3 billion miles, but at 7:49 a.m. EST the New Horizons spacecraft passed what was once the furthest planet in our solar system.

Traveling at a speed of 30,800 miles per hour, New Horizons zoomed by Pluto a scant 7,800 miles away. This is the closest we have ever got to Pluto and it will send back some of the best images of the maligned dwarf planet we have ever seen. Maybe this will convince those scientists to let it back into the club and give us the nine planets that we deserve.

But we've learned a lot so far. For instance, now we know how big the dang thing is.

This morning, NASA announced that Pluto is 2,370km (about 1,473 miles) in diameter, give or take 20m. That makes it ever so slightly bigger than Eris, a much darker and denser object that lives farther out in the Kuiper Belt. (Eris measures 2,336km in diameter.) Measurements of Pluto's size before today were estimates at best, their accuracy skewed by the dwarf planet's hazy atmosphere.



We've also learned that Pluto has a pretty big ice cap, filled with lots of nitrogen and frozen methane. (I could've told you the place was cold nine years ago.)

Since this mission happened billions of miles away and it takes four hours for the radio waves New Horizon sends us to be uploaded, we shouldn't expect to see any pictures filled with happy, waving aliens until tonight.

Also, by the way, the download speed on that information is 1 Kb/s. Dialup hell.



Here's a video explaining the delicacy and scale of this Pluto flyby:



As we got closer to the dwarf planet, however, all anyone could see was the image of Mickey Mouse's dog, carefully hidden within the terrain.

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mercury is a strange and alien place
Via NASA
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Via NASA:

The sprawling Caloris basin on Mercury is one of the solar system's largest impact basins, created during the early history of the solar system by the impact of a large asteroid-sized body. The multi-featured, fractured basin spans about 1,500 kilometers in this enhanced color mosaic based on image data from the Mercury-orbiting MESSENGER spacecraft. Mercury's youngest large impact basin, Caloris was subsequently filled in by lavas that appear orange in the mosaic. Craters made after the flooding have excavated material from beneath the surface lavas. Seen as contrasting blue hues, they likely offer a glimpse of the original basin floor material. Analysis of these craters suggests the thickness of the covering volcanic lava to be 2.5-3.5 kilometers. Orange splotches around the basin's perimeter are thought to be volcanic vents.