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Saturday, April 10, 2021
Crushed space rocks hint at exoplanets’ early atmospheric makeup

Crushed space rocks hint at exoplanets’ early atmospheric makeup

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Burning bits of ground-up meteorites may tell scientists what exoplanets’ early atmospheres are made of. A set of experiments baking the pulverized space rocks suggests that rocky planets had early atmospheres full of water, astrophysicist Maggie Thompson of the University of California, Santa Cruz reported January 15 at the virtual meeting of the American Astronomical…
‘We Have No Space’: LA County Funeral Director Describes Virus’s Toll

‘We Have No Space’: LA County Funeral Director Describes Virus’s Toll

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A casket is loaded into a hearse at the Boyd Funeral Home as burials at cemeteries are delayed to the surge of COVID-19 deaths on Jan. 14, 2021 in Los Angeles. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images A casket is loaded into a hearse at…
The first magnetar flare detected from another galaxy was tracked to its home

The first magnetar flare detected from another galaxy was tracked to...

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For the first time, astronomers have definitively spotted a flaring magnetar in another galaxy. These ultra-magnetic stellar corpses were thought to be responsible for some of the highest-energy explosions in the nearby universe. But until this burst, no one could prove it, astronomers reported January 13 at the virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society…
The most ancient supermassive black hole is bafflingly big

The most ancient supermassive black hole is bafflingly big

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The most ancient black hole ever discovered is so big it defies explanation. This active supermassive black hole, or quasar, boasts a mass of 1.6 billion suns and lies at the heart of a galaxy more than 13 billion light-years from Earth. The quasar, dubbed J0313-1806, dates back to when the universe was just 670…
The Parker Solar Probe will have company on its next pass by the sun

The Parker Solar Probe will have company on its next pass...

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The Parker Solar Probe is no stranger to the sun. On January 17, the NASA spacecraft will make its seventh close pass of our star, coming within 14 million kilometers of its scorching surface. And this time, Parker will have plenty of company. A lucky celestial lineup means that dozens of other observatories will be…
Coverage of “wooden satellites” misses the point

Coverage of “wooden satellites” misses the point

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Enlarge / An experimental satellite, not made of wood, that was used to test ideas for orbital junk removal. We here at Ars were somewhat surprised to stumble across a BBC headline indicating that a university-industry partnership in Japan was working on developing wooden satellites. The plan is less insane than it sounds—wood is a…
Here are the highlights from a busy year in space launches

Here are the highlights from a busy year in space launches

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So many things launched into space this year: Six humans traveled aboard commercial crew vehicles, three spacecraft began journeys to Mars and several hundred distractingly shiny satellites took to the sky. Commercial crew On May 30, SpaceX ferried a pair of astronauts to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Fla. It was the first…
How future spacecraft might handle tricky landings on Venus or Europa

How future spacecraft might handle tricky landings on Venus or Europa

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The best way to know a world is to touch it. Scientists have observed the planets and moons in our solar system for centuries, and have flown spacecraft past the orbs for decades. But to really understand these worlds, researchers need to get their hands dirty — or at least a spacecraft’s landing pads. Since…
This new image reveals a sunspot in unrivaled detail

This new image reveals a sunspot in unrivaled detail

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The largest solar telescope on Earth has gotten the sharpest glimpse ever of a sunspot. Vaguely resembling a sunflower — or the Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings — the spot appears as a dark blemish wreathed by ribbons of plasma that have been sculpted by magnetic fields sprouting from the spot’s…
Top 10 questions I’d ask an alien from the Galactic Federation

Top 10 questions I’d ask an alien from the Galactic Federation

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Any science journalist would rejoice at the revelation of aliens on Earth. It would be the story of a lifetime. So it’s not surprising that a former Israeli space official’s claim that a Galactic Federation is known to the U.S. government has made a few headlines and trended on Twitter. Of course, most science journalists…

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