News, Observations, Space

Pluto is covered in ice and has an atmosphere, new pics reveal

Artistic representation of Pluto's ice. Image via Space Flight Insider.

New Horizons has sent over so much data that NASA will be analyzing and learning more about Pluto for over a year – such is the case now: these new images from New Horizons reveal flowing ice, impressive mountain ranges and a surprisingly thick atmosphere.

Biology, Geology, News

Four-legged snake is missing link between lizards and serpents

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An “absolutely exquisite” fossil of a juvenile snake with limbs has been discovered by English paleontologists in Brazil. The fossil dates back from the early Cretaceous, 110 million years ago, and is the oldest evidence of a definitive snake.

Astronomy, Astrophysics, News

NASA’s exciting announcement: They’ve discovered an Earth-like planet in the habitable zone

The sweep of NASA Kepler mission’s search for small, habitable planets in the last six years. The first planet smaller than Earth, Kepler-20e, was discovered in December 2011 orbiting a Sun-like star slightly cooler and smaller than our sun every six days. But it is scorching hot and unable to maintain an atmosphere or a liquid water ocean. Kepler-22b was announced in the same month, as the first planet in the habitable zone of a sun-like star, but is more than twice the size of Earth and therefore unlikely to have a solid surface. Kepler-186f was discovered in April 2014 and is the first Earth-size planet found in the habitable zone of a small, cool M dwarf about half the size and mass of our sun. Kepler-452b is the first near-Earth-Size planet in the habitable zone of a star very similar to the sun.
Credits: NASA Ames/W. Stenzel

Planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of star that is similar to our Sun. This extremely exciting announcement was made by NASA today; while this doesn’t mean that the planet is inhabited, it does mean that it has many of the characteristics that our own Earth-Sun system have, and the odds of it hosting life seem significant.

Astronomy, News, Science, Space

Pluto had its moment – now Charon, Pluto’s Moon is in the spotlight

Image via NASA.

OK, we all know New Horizons zoomed past Pluto, took some breathtaking pictures and then called back home to tell us everything’s fine. But let’s switch our attention a bit and focus on Charon – Pluto’s Moon that’s just as mysterious as its name implies. Charon is the largest of the five known moons of the dwarf planet Pluto, at about

Astronomy, News, Space

Welcome back to the family, Pluto!

photo credit: Welcome to the family. Ben Gross/twitter, CC BY-SA

Before you get overly excited, no, Pluto hasn’t been once again accepted as a planet – it’s still officially a dwarf planet (though in our hearts, you’ll always be a planet, Pluto!). However, this emblematic picture of the solar system from my childhood is now complete, as seen in this great family portrait produced by Ben Gross, a research fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Basically, we have at least the one good image of all the worlds in our solar system.

Astronomy, News, Space

New Horizons Phones Back After Pluto Flyby

Members of the New Horizons science team react to seeing the spacecraft's last and sharpest image of Pluto before closest approach later in the day, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

New Horizons’s trip to Pluto came and went – it was met with extreme enthusiasm at NASA headquarters and praised by astronauts throughout the world – but New Horizon’s mission is far from over. The shuttle is adequately powered to sent back valuable data until the 2030s; for now, it simply “phoned” back home to say it’s OK after zooming past Pluto.

Astronomy, News, Observations

New Horizons and Pluto: Everything You Wanted to Know

This is the best photo of Pluto we have. Thank you, NASA!

Speeding at 14 km per second, NASA’s New Horizons shuttle went past Pluto, hurdling towards the edge of the Solar System. But regardless of what happens, New Horizons’ flyby of the dwarf planet will remained firmly anchored in the history of space exploration. “We have completed the initial reconnaissance of the Solar System, an endeavour started under President Kennedy more than 50

News, Observations

Pluto has a heart – NASA reveals spectacular images of the dwarf planet

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Pluto, the Solar System’s most well known planet wanna-be is having its week in the spotlight: NASA’s New Horizons probe is offering an unprecedented look at the dwarf planet, and already revealing some interesting features.

Astronomy, News

Millions of supermassive black holes are hiding under thick blankets of dust and gas

A montage of images showing an artist's concept of NuSTAR (top); a color image of one of the galaxies targeted by NuSTAR (lower left); and artist's concept of a hidden black hole.
Credits: Top: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Lower-left: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA. Bottom-right: NASA/ESA

Our Universe may be riddled with millions of supermassive black holes, a new study reports. The reason why we haven’t yet discovered them is because they are shrouded in thick clouds of dust and gas, and because we weren’t looking with the right telescope. Using NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite observatory, astronomers from Durham University in Britain detected the

Alien life, News, Space

Philae could be sitting on a comet filled with alien life and not even know it

The black layer on the comet's surface may be a result of microbial activity, scientists claim.

Comet lander Philae may be sitting on top of microbial life and not even know it – even worse, it has no way of figuring out if it actually is. According to two researchers, the comet’s characteristics (as well as computer simulations) might indicate that the surface may be teeming with microbes. The Rosetta spacecraft was launched in March 2004 by