Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Solar eruptions could electrify Martian moons

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Powerful solar eruptions could electrically charge areas of the Martian moon Phobos to hundreds of volts, presenting a complex electrical environment that could possibly affect sensitive electronics carried by future robotic explorers, according to a new NASA study. The study also considered electrical charges that could develop as astronauts transit the surface on potential human missions to Phobos.
via Science Daily
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A mission to Mars could make its own oxygen thanks to plasma technology

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Plasma technology could hold the key to creating a sustainable oxygen supply on Mars, a new study has found. It suggests that Mars, with its 96 per cent carbon dioxide atmosphere, has nearly ideal conditions for creating oxygen from CO2 through a process known as decomposition.
via Science Daily
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How bright is the moon, really?

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is planning to take new measurements of the Moon's brightness, a highly useful property that satellites rely upon every day.
via Science Daily
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Potential human habitat located on the moon

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A new study confirms the existence of a large open lava tube in the Marius Hills region of the moon, which could be used to protect astronauts from hazardous conditions on the surface.
via Science Daily
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Looking for microbe 'fingerprints' on simulated Martian rocks

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Scientists are searching for unique bio-signatures left on synthetic extraterrestrial minerals by microbial activity. A new paper describes investigations into these signatures at a miniaturized 'Mars farm' where researchers can observe interactions between the archaeon Metallosphaera sedula and Mars-like rocks. These microbes are capable of oxidizing and integrating metals into their metabolism.
via Science Daily
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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Study shows how water could have flowed on 'cold and icy' ancient Mars

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Research by planetary scientists finds that periodic melting of ice sheets on a cold early Mars would have created enough water to carve the ancient valleys and lakebeds seen on the planet today.
via Science Daily
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To keep Saturn's A ring contained, its moons stand united

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For three decades, astronomers thought that only Saturn's moon Janus confined the planet's A ring -- the largest and farthest of the visible rings. But after poring over NASA's Cassini mission data, astronomers now conclude that the teamwork of seven moons keeps this ring corralled.
via Science Daily
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Webcam on Mars Express surveys high-altitude clouds

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An unprecedented catalogue of more than 21 000 images taken by a webcam on ESA’s Mars Express is proving its worth as a science instrument, providing a global survey of unusual high-altitude cloud features on the Red Planet.


via ESA Space Science
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Webcam_on_Mars_Express_surveys_high-altitude_clouds

Monday, 16 October 2017

Unpacking What We Just Learned About Neutron Star Collisions

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Here are answers to some questions you might have about the discovery that was announced on Monday.
via New York Times

Catch a fleeting kilonova

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Alerted by the first-ever gravitational waves caused by two neutron stars merging, astronomers detect the resulting optical flash.
via Science Daily
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Seeing the light of neutron star collisions

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When two neutron stars collided on Aug. 17, a widespread search for electromagnetic radiation from the event led to observations of light from the afterglow of the explosion, finally connecting a gravitational-wave-producing event with conventional astronomy using light, according to an international team of astronomers.
via Science Daily
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Gravitational waves plus new clues from space reveal new way to make a black hole

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For the first time, scientists have detected both gravitational waves and light shooting toward our planet from the birthplace of a new black hole created by the merger of two neutron stars. The discovery marks the beginning of a new era of
via Science Daily
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Gamma-ray burst detection just what researchers exclusively predicted

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More than a month before a game-changing detection of a short gamma-ray burst, scientists predicted such a discovery would occur.
via Science Daily
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Hubble observes source of gravitational waves for the first time

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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed for the first time the source of a gravitational wave, created by the merger of two neutron stars. This merger created a kilonova -- an object predicted by theory decades ago -- that ejects heavy elements such as gold and platinum into space. This event also provides the strongest evidence yet that short duration gamma-ray bursts are caused by mergers of neutron stars.
via Science Daily
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Astronomers strike cosmic gold, confirm origin of precious metals in neutron star mergers

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What many thought would be a long way off, the detection of gravitational waves from the merger of binary neutron stars, actually happened on Aug. 17. The observation of a blue and then red glow from the radioactive debris cloud left behind matched simulations of what the merger should look like, proving that such mergers are the source of most of the very heavy elements in the universe, including gold.
via Science Daily
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NASA Missions Catch First Light From a Gravitational-Wave Event


Neutron Star Collision Cooks Up Exotic Elements, Gravitational Waves

When some people get in the kitchen, they create a delicious meal but leave behind a chaotic mess of splattered food and dirty dishes. Cosmic cookery can be just as messy. While a star can create chemical elements as heavy as iron within its core, anything heavier needs a more powerful source like a stellar explosion or the collision of two neutron stars.

Colliding neutron stars can yield gold, plutonium, and a variety of other elements. Theoretically, they also generate gravitational waves as they spiral together at breakneck speed before merging. The first gravitational wave signal from a neutron star merger was detected on August 17. It was accompanied by gamma rays and other light, allowing astronomers to locate a gravitational wave source for the first time.

Hubble photographed the glow from this titanic collision, shining within the galaxy NGC 4993 at a distance of 130 million light-years. Hubble also obtained an infrared spectrum that may yield signs of exotic, radioactive elements. The analysis will continue while astronomers wait for the gravitational wave source to emerge from behind the Sun from Earth’s point of view, where it slipped just days after discovery.


via Hubble - News feed
http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-41

Integral sees blast travelling with gravitational waves

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ESA’s Integral satellite recently played a crucial role in discovering the flash of gamma rays linked to the gravitational waves released by the collision of two neutron stars.


via ESA Space Science
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Integral_sees_blast_travelling_with_gravitational_waves

First observations of merging neutron stars mark a new era in astronomy

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After LIGO detected gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars, the race was on to detect a visible counterpart, because unlike the colliding black holes responsible for LIGO's four previous detections, this event was expected to produce an explosion of visible light. Researchers have now found the source of the gravitational waves, capturing the first images of the event with the Swope Telescope in Chile.
via Science Daily
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LIGO Detects Fierce Collision of Neutron Stars for the First Time

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Seen and heard, the fireball is a stunning breakthrough into kilonovas, bursts of energy believed to produce metals like gold and uranium in the universe.
via New York Times

Detecting a Kilonova Explosion

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For the first time, astronomers have seen and heard a pair of neutron stars collide in a crucible of cosmic alchemy.
via New York Times

Radio 'eyes' unlocking secrets of neutron-star collision

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When a pair of superdense neutron stars collided and potentially formed a black hole in a galaxy 130 million light-years from Earth, they unleashed not only a train of gravitational waves but also an ongoing torrent of radio waves that are answering some of the biggest questions about the nature of such a cataclysmic event.
via Science Daily
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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Meet ISOLDE Live: Celebrate 50 years of physics at ISOLDE

On this day 50 years ago, the beams at ISOLDE were turned on, and the experiment began taking physics data. Today, that experiment has grown into a facility that provides beams for more than 50 experiments and over 500 scientists. The research done at ISOLDE has helped us to build better, faster computers, taught us more about the stars, and is helping medical researchers improve radiation treatment, for cancer. 

Find out more about ISOLDE in our series, Meet ISOLDE, and join us on Facebook at 14:00 today, Monday 16 October 2017, live from the ISOLDE control centre for a chance to have your questions answered by our scientists. 

 


via CERN: Updates for the general public
http://home.cern/about/updates/2017/10/meet-isolde-live-celebrate-50-years-physics-isolde

Meet ISOLDE: Where did it all begin?

Meet ISOLDE: Targeting new discoveries

Meet Isolde: Fresh faces bring fresh ideas

Meet ISOLDE: Future physics with HIE-ISOLDE

Meet ISOLDE: What can ISOLDE do for cancer research?

Saturday, 14 October 2017

How scientists used NASA data to predict the corona of the Aug. 21 Total Solar Eclipse

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When the total solar eclipse swept across the United States on Aug. 21, 2017, NASA satellites captured a diverse set of images from space. But days before the eclipse, some NASA satellites also enabled scientists to predict what the corona -- the Sun's outer atmosphere -- would look like during the eclipse, from the ground. In addition to offering a case study to test our predictive abilities, the predictions also enabled some eclipse scientists to choose their study targets in advance.
via Science Daily
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Solar research: NASA sounding rocket instrument spots signatures of long-sought small solar flares

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Like most solar sounding rockets, the second flight of the FOXSI instrument -- short for Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager -- lasted 15 minutes, with just six minutes of data collection. But in that short time, the cutting-edge instrument found the best evidence to date of a phenomenon scientists have been seeking for years: signatures of tiny solar flares that could help explain the mysterious extreme heating of the Sun's outer atmosphere.
via Science Daily
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Friday, 13 October 2017

Solar research: On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves

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Combining computer observations and simulations, a new model shows that the presence of neutrals in the gas facilitates the magnetic fields to penetrate through the surface of the Sun producing the spicules.
via Science Daily
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Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

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While it's true that space radiation is one of the biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars, it's also true that NASA is developing technologies and countermeasures to ensure a safe and successful journey to the red planet.
via Science Daily
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Baby MIND born at CERN now moving to Japan

Star Dust Helps Explain Mysterious Dimming Star

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Astronomers are working to understand the mysterious dimming of Tabby's Star. The astronomers report that space dust orbiting the star -- not alien megastructures -- is the likely cause of the star's long-term dimming.
via Science Daily
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New insight into the limits of possible life on Mars

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Researchers investigating whether liquid water could exist on Mars have provided new insight into the limits of life on the red planet.
via Science Daily
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Thursday, 12 October 2017

For one day only LHC collides xenon beams

Intense storms batter Saturn’s largest moon, scientists report

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Titan, the largest of Saturn's more than 60 moons, has surprisingly intense rainstorms, according to research by a team of UCLA planetary scientists and geologists. Although the storms are relatively rare -- they occur less than once per Titan year, which is 29 and a half Earth years -- they occur much more frequently than the scientists expected.
via Science Daily
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A better understanding of space, via helicopter

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An algorithm that helps engineers design better helicopters may help astronomers more precisely envision the formation of planets and galaxies. Researchers have created a new model for understanding how black holes, planets, and galaxies emerge from the vortex-rich environments of space.
via Science Daily
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Satellites map photosynthesis at high resolution

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Life on Earth is impossible without photosynthesis. It provides food and oxygen to all higher life forms and plays an important role in the climate system, since this process regulates the uptake of carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere and its fixation in biomass. However, quantification of photosynthesis at the ecosystem-to-global scale remains uncertain. Now an international team of scientists have made a major step forward.
via Science Daily
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Devourer of planets? Astronomers dub star 'Kronos'

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'Kronos' is enhanced in metals and other rock-forming elements but not in volatiles, prompting a team of researchers to conclude that it absorbed as much as 15 Earth masses worth of rocky planets. Its twin, 'Krios,' does not show this unusual pattern of enhancement.
via Science Daily
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A new miniature solution for storing renewable energy

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In a first for metal-organic frameworks, scientists have demonstrated their metallic conductivity.
via Science Daily

Reconstructing Cassini's plunge into Saturn

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As NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its fateful dive into the upper atmosphere of Saturn on Sept. 15, the spacecraft was live-streaming data from eight of its science instruments, along with readings from a variety of engineering systems. While analysis of science data from the final plunge will take some time, Cassini engineers already have a pretty clear understanding of how the spacecraft itself behaved as it went in.
via Science Daily
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The moon once had an atmosphere

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A new study shows that an atmosphere was produced around the ancient Moon, 3 to 4 billion years ago, when intense volcanic eruptions spewed gases above the surface faster than they could escape to space.
via Science Daily
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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

This is a test: Asteroid tracking network observes close approach

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On Oct. 12 EDT (Oct. 11 PDT), a small asteroid designated 2012 TC4 will safely pass by Earth at a distance of approximately 26,000 miles (42,000 kilometers). This is a little over one tenth the distance to the Moon and just above the orbital altitude of communications satellites. This encounter with TC4 is being used by asteroid trackers around the world to test their ability to operate as a coordinated international asteroid warning network.
via Science Daily
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Giant exoplanet hunters: Look for debris disks

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There's no map showing all the billions of exoplanets hiding in our galaxy -- they're so distant and faint compared to their stars, it's hard to find them. Now, astronomers hunting for new worlds have established a possible signpost for giant exoplanets.
via Science Daily
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Scientists discover one of the most luminous 'new stars' ever

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Astronomers have discovered possibly the most luminous 'new star' ever -- a nova discovered in the direction of one of our closest neighboring galaxies: The Small Magellanic Cloud.
via Science Daily
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Batteries of the future: Low-cost battery from waste graphite

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Lithium ion batteries are flammable and the price of the raw material is rising. Are there alternatives? Yes: researchers have discovered promising approaches as to how we might produce batteries out waste graphite and scrap metal.
via Science Daily

Characterizing electrical properties of graphene for industrial applications

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Characterizing the electrical properties of graphene and other 2D materials is quickly becoming a bottleneck for industrial applications. Although large-scale production of high-quality graphene has rapidly advanced, development of practical characterization methods has lagged behind. Common methods are either too slow for industrial use or damage the device beyond repair.

In a recent publication in the journal 2D Materials, scientists from Denmark, the UK, and Spain compare the standard methods of measuring and mapping electronic properties and propose industrially scalable solutions. For the majority of applications of single sheet graphene in optoelectronics, high-speed, low-power electronics and photovoltaics, electronic properties such as carrier mobility, sheet resistivity, and background doping carrier density are essential. The most commonly used method of measuring these properties in graphene research, standard lithography, although useful in the infant stages of graphene technology, contaminates the device with lithographic resist that is difficult or impossible to remove, causing irreversible damage to the electronic quality of the sample. In addition, this method is time-consuming, requiring at least half a day for sample preparation. To hasten sample preparation, one could use direct laser lithography (DLL), which takes about 1-2 hours per wafer. During this process metal contacts are deposited at fixed locations using a stencil mask, whereas the graphene devices are defined with laser ablation. Although it bypasses lithographic resist residues and is quicker than conventional lithography, DLL yields a fixed device geometry and is thus applicable to certain applications only, i.e. it doesn’t probe the graphene film as-is.

Image: Non-destructive, non-contact characterization of electrical properties of graphene. Source: 2D Materials 4, 042003 (2017), creative commons

Characterizing electronic properties of pristine graphene films and later using the film for a custom application can only be done with non-destructive methods. One such method is micro four point probe (M4PP). M4PP was introduced in the year 2000 as an ultra-compact alternative to conventional four point probing used in microelectronics. M4PP is suitable for thin films and fragile surfaces, such as graphene, as it consists of sensitive micro-fabricated cantilever electrodes on a silicon chip. This method can be applied to non-patterned graphene films and performs measurements on about one device per minute.

For even faster, industrial-scale device testing, non-contact, non-destructive terahertz time-domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS) appears as a most viable solution. THz-TDS is carried out by measuring the attenuation of a terahertz pulse by transmission through the sample or by reflection back. This method measures electrical properties of graphene sheets within 10 milliseconds per pixel, with a resolution better than 100 micrometers. The authors of the paper, entitled “Mapping the electrical properties of large-area graphene”, conclude that THz-TDS is the best candidate for characterizing graphene films with the consistency, quality, and speed required for the entry of graphene into mass market products.


via Graphenea

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Ancient asteroid impact exposes the moon's interior

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A large basin on the moon has revealed that its interior is made of a different mineral than Earth's interior, contradicting the theory that the interior of the planets look mostly the same.
via Science Daily
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Seeing the next dimension of computer chips

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Researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope to image the side-surfaces of 3-D silicon crystals for the first time. The pictures, captured with atomic-level of resolution, can help semiconductor manufacturers build the next generation of computer chips with three-dimensional features.
via Science Daily

Building a barrier against oxidation

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Chemically stabilizing atomically flat materials improves their potential for commercial application, report scientists.
via Science Daily

Beamline for Schools 2017: a successful story continues

Monday, 9 October 2017

Patchwork geology

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Space Science Image of the Week: This colourful patchwork maps geological features on Mercury, destination for our upcoming BepiColombo mission
via ESA Space Science
http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2017/10/Geology_of_the_Victoria_Quadrangle_on_Mercury

Sunday, 8 October 2017

New telescope attachment allows ground-based observations of new worlds

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A new, low-cost attachment to telescopes allows previously unachievable precision in ground-based observations of planets beyond our solar system. With it, ground-based telescopes can produce measurements of light intensity that rival the highest quality photometric observations from space.
via Science Daily
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Friday, 6 October 2017

Mars study yields clues to possible cradle of life

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The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth. The research offers evidence that these deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet's crust entering the bottom of a large sea long ago.
via Science Daily
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Exotic quantum particle observed in bilayer graphene

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Physicists have definitively observed an intensely studied anomaly in condensed matter physics -- the even-denominator fractional quantum Hall state -- via transport measurement in bilayer graphene.
via Science Daily

To Mars with ESA and the Guggenheim Bilbao

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ESA and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, with the BBK Foundation, are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Spanish arts centre with a performance of Chasmata, a journey to Mars through contemporary art, music and architecture. Monday’s concert can be seen online starting at 18:30 GMT (20:30 CEST).


via ESA Space Science
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/To_Mars_with_ESA_and_the_Guggenheim_Bilbao

When Soviets Launched Sputnik, C.I.A. Was Not Surprised

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Declassified documents show that intelligence officers, and President Eisenhower, knew that the Soviet Union was close to launching a man-made satellite.
via New York Times

Thursday, 5 October 2017

2017 Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to LIGO Black Hole Researchers

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Rainer Weiss of M.I.T. and his Caltech collaborators Kip Thorne and Barry Barish discovered ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves.
via New York Times

Space Council Chooses the Moon as Trump Administration Priority

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Vice President Mike Pence accused the Obama administration of neglecting the space program, while others saw an ongoing renaissance.
via New York Times

Why lab researchers should talk with industry counterparts

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A research team has found both obstacles and lessons from the process of getting a novel membrane for chemical processing out of the lab into the commercial world.
via Science Daily

Mars' moon Phobos examined in a different light

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NASA's longest-lived mission to Mars has gained its first look at the Martian moon Phobos, pursuing a deeper understanding by examining it in infrared wavelengths.
via Science Daily
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Tracking debris in the Earth‘s orbit with centimeter precision using efficient laser technology

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Uncontrollable flying objects in orbit are a massive risk for modern space travel, and, due to our dependence on satellites today, it is also a risk to global economy. Scientists have now developed a fiber laser that reliably determines the position and direction of the space debris' movement to mitigate these risks.
via Science Daily
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Violent helium reaction on white dwarf surface triggers supernova explosion

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Astronomers have found solid evidence about what triggered a star to explode, which will contribute to a further understanding of supernova history and behavior.
via Science Daily
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Milky Way's 'most-mysterious star' continues to confound

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In 2015, a star called KIC 8462852 caused quite a stir in and beyond the astronomy community due to a series of rapid, unexplained dimming events. The latest findings from astronomers take a longer look at the star, going back to 2006 -- before its strange behavior was detected by Kepler.
via Science Daily
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Colourful dunes on wind-swept Mars

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Dunes are prominent indicators of prevailing winds, as can be seen on this crater floor on Mars, imaged by ESA’s Mars Express on 16 May.


via ESA Space Science
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Colourful_dunes_on_wind-swept_Mars

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The super-Earth that came home for dinner

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It might be lingering bashfully on the icy outer edges of our solar system, hiding in the dark, but subtly pulling strings behind the scenes: stretching out the orbits of distant bodies, perhaps even tilting the entire solar system to one side. It is a possible "Planet Nine" -- a world perhaps 10 times the mass of Earth and 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune.
via Science Daily
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