Unprecedented Views of Mercury's Surface

Desert Gypsy's picture 6/18/13, Sean Breslin


Mercury Image

For the first time since 1975, a NASA spacecraft has captured fresh images of Mercury, shedding new light on a planet that's mostly been in the dark because of its close proximity to the sun.

Thanks to the MESSENGER spacecraft, the first to orbit Mercury, more than 80,000 photos have been taken of the planet's surface, according to an report. The article also states the craft intends to take another 80,000 photos or more before the mission ends.

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A rare total eclipse of Jupiter by the Sun on June 19, 2013

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The Watchers, 6/19/13, Chiffre



Planet Jupiter began the month of June 2013 being positioned very low in the west sky just after sunset. However soon it will disappear into the solar glare, as Jupiter is approaching the Sun for a solar conjunction on June 19, 2013. At that time Jupiter will pass behind the Sun, an event that happens about every thirteen months.

Because Jupiter`s orbit is somewhat ecliptic, it often passes either slightly above or below the Sun, when observed from our planet. Interestingly, on June 19, 2013, Jupiter will pass directly behind the solar disk and get totally obscured by the Sun, which occurs only twice within the planet`s 12-year orbit around the Sun

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Did comet impacts jump-start life on Earth?

Desert Gypsy's picture - 6/5/13




Icy comets that crashed into Earth millions of years ago could have produced life building organic compounds.

Early Earth was not very hospitable when it came to jump starting life. In fact, new research shows that life on Earth may have come from out of this world.

Lawrence Livermore scientist Nir Goldman and University of Ontario Institute of Technology colleague Isaac Tamblyn (a former LLNL postdoc) found that icy comets that crashed into Earth billions of years ago could have produced life building organic compounds, including the building blocks of proteins and nucleobases pairs of DNA and RNA.


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Rare View of Ancient Galaxy Crash Revealed : Video

Desert Gypsy's picture - 5/27/13



The merger is occurring 11 billion light-years away, meaning that astronomers are seeing the two colliding galaxies as they were about 3 billion years after the Big Bang that created the universe. During this epoch, "red and dead" elliptical galaxies full of old stars were common.

Fu and his colleagues initially thought the two merging galaxies were a singleton, dubbed HXMM01, when they saw it with the European Space Agency's infrared Herschel space telescope.

But follow-up observations with a variety of other instruments, both on the ground and in space, revealed that HXMM01 is actually two galaxies on a collision course, separated by about 62,000 light-years at the moment.

Galaxies fed by funnels of fuel

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Galaxies fed by funnels of fuel


( —Computer simulations of galaxies growing over billions of years have revealed a likely scenario for how they feed: a cosmic version of swirly straws.


The results show that cold gas—fuel for stars—spirals into the cores of galaxies along filaments, rapidly making its way to their "guts." Once there, the gas is converted into new stars, and the galaxies bulk up in mass.

"Galaxy formation is really chaotic," said Kyle Stewart, lead author of the new study appearing in the May 20th issue of the Astrophysical Journal. "It took us several hundred computer processors, over months of time, to simulate and learn more about how this process works." Stewart, who is now at the California Baptist University in Riverside, Calif., completed the majority of this work while at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.


Mystery of Moon’s Magnetic Field Deepens

Silver's picture, Charles Q. Choi (, 05/23/2013

Mystery of Moon's Magnetic Field Deepens

The moon generated a surprisingly intense magnetic field until at least 3.56 billion years ago, 160 million years longer than previously thought, a new study reports. These findings could shed light not just on the magnetic field of the moon, which is now extremely weak, but on that of asteroids and other distant worlds, investigators added.


Earth’s magnetic field is created by its internal dynamo, which itself is generated by the planet’s churning molten metal core. Research increasingly suggests that the moon once had a dynamo as well, with evidence of magnetism found in lunar rocks returned by Apollo astronauts. Models of the moon’s core suggest its dynamo should have lasted only until about 4.1 billion years ago. However, last year, scientists revealed that the moon possessed a magnetic field for much longer than previously thought, with a powerful dynamo in its core from 4.2 billion years ago to at least 3.72 billion years ago.


Storms That Spawned Deadly Oklahoma Tornadoes Seen from Space

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AccuWeather May 21, 2013; 11:08 AM




The beginnings of Monday's (May 20) disastrous tornado in Oklahoma were caught from space by a weather satellite in orbit.

The GOES-13 satellite, which is operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), imaged the movement of storm systems in the south-central United States between May 19 and 20, including the storm that sparked a tornado in Moore, Okla., estimated to be an EF-4 in strength, on Monday at 2:56 p.m. CDT (3:56 p.m. EDT, or 1956 GMT).




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