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Scientists might soon have a much easier time discovering every last nuance of other planets. Researchers have developed a quantum cascade laser (which sounds like an amazing sci-fi weapon, by the way) that can cover a very wide range of infrared wavelengths at the same time, making short work of...

August 19th 2015 at 4:31pm 0 Comments
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Talk about plucking a needle from a cosmic haystack. NASA just announced that its planet-hunting Kepler telescope has discovered Kepler 452b, an exoplanet that exists inside the habitable zone around a G-type star (that is, a star that's awfully similar to our own sun). The planet is about 60 perc...

July 23rd 2015 at 12:29pm 0 Comments
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As the New Horizons probe gets closer to Pluto, the pictures its cameras capture also get clearer. Take for example the black-and-white image above: it's no longer just a blob or an extremely blurry circle. Sure, it's not as sharp as we'd all like it to be (pssst, you'll only have to wait a few mo...

July 11th 2015 at 7:55am 0 Comments
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In the hunt for planets around distant stars, the stars themselves are often the worst enemy. They're so bright that you rarely spot anything smaller than a gas giant, which isn't much help when you're trying to find habitable worlds. An alliance of American and Dutch researchers may have the tick...

June 28th 2015 at 8:43pm 0 Comments
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Humans might not fly over the dwarf planet Ceres any time soon, but that doesn't mean you have to wonder what it would be like to soar over this miniature world. NASA just released a simulated flyover that uses real mapping data to give a new perspective on Ceres. The vertical detail is "exagger...

June 8th 2015 at 12:32pm 0 Comments
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The Philae comet lander might be slumbering, but it can still teach you a thing or two about the nature of celestial bodies. European Space Agency researchers have compared Philae's data against the more distant Rosetta probe, and they've discovered that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko isn't magn...

April 15th 2015 at 2:31pm 0 Comments
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As much as humanity knows about Mars, the planet is still chock-full of surprises. Just ask NASA: University of Colorado researchers using its MAVEN probe have discovered phenomena in the Martian skies that you would never see on Earth. For one, there are auroras that are so energetic (their ele...

March 18th 2015 at 5:41pm 0 Comments
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You probably know that Mars hasn't always been so barren, but have you wondered what it was like in its heyday? You almost wouldn't recognize it, according to an international team of scientists. They've used six years of atmospheric monitoring to determine that Mars had enough water to form a big...

March 8th 2015 at 3:59pm 0 Comments
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As NASA's Dawn spacecraft approaches orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres, researchers aren't sure what's causing the "bright spots" on its surface. The imaging orbiter snapped the above picture from 29,000 miles (46,000 km) away just last week, but until it gets closer for a more detailed picture,...

February 26th 2015 at 7:59pm 0 Comments
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It's tempting to think of gas planets as permanently hostile to life as we know it. A pair of University of Washington researchers beg to differ, however. They've used computer modelling to determine that these worlds can become habitable when their stars get particularly grabby. If a relatively s...

February 1st 2015 at 12:29pm 0 Comments
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NASA's Kepler telescope has discovered a veritable bounty of alien planets, but none of them have been quite like Earth -- until now. Today, the agency announced that Kepler-186f is the first confirmed Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star. In other words, it's the right size an...

April 17th 2014 at 5:34pm 0 Comments