scientist

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Take a deep breath

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has “sniffed” molecular oxygen ions around Saturn’s icy moon Dione for the first time, confirming the presence of a very tenuous atmosphere. The oxygen ions are quite sparse – one for every…


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The Hayabusa Booty

The first dust grains ever retrieved from the surface of an asteroid now confirm that these minor planets are constantly shaped by a continuous barrage of high-speed microscopic impacts, scientists find. The Japanese asteroid probe…


A drama in 3D

At the turn of the 19th century, the binary star system Eta Carinae was faint and undistinguished. In the first decades of the century, it became brighter and brighter, until, by April 1843, it was…


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Steamy windows for possible settlers

This looks like a mighty cool – hot – planet. A waterworld under an atmosphere of water vapor. There could be boiling some life over there! It’s clear (yet damp) that there’s a whole lot…


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The Big Bang inventor will leave Earth with a big bang

ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) are an essential contribution by Europe to running the International Space Station. Naming the fifth after Belgian scientist Georges Lemaître continues the tradition of drawing on great European visionaries to…


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Tellurium in the distance

Nearly 13.7 billion years ago, the universe was made of only hydrogen, helium and traces of lithium — byproducts of the Big Bang. Some 300 million years later, the very first stars emerged, creating additional…


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Dried up aliens

Alien planets might experience tidal forces powerful enough to remove all their water, leaving behind hot, dry worlds like Venus, researchers said.   These findings might significantly affect searches for habitable exoplanets, scientists explained. Although…