Earth & Space

Cassini visits Saturn’s oxygenated moon

he Cassini spacecraft has detected atmospheric oxygen on Rhea, a rocky, icy moon orbiting Saturn. 950 miles in diameter (less than half that of our moon), the tiny world is covered with water ice, which likely produces free oxygen as it is bombarded with charged particles from the magnetosphere of its parent planet, Saturn.

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SETI keeps looking up

The search for extraterrestrial life is serious science: its methods are precisely documented, its results painstakingly peer-reviewed. But at the same time its a field with curious standards when it comes to advances.

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NASA’s Icebridge: imaging the abyss

Researchers with NASA's Icebridge campaign are completing their fourth tour of flights over the polar regions to image ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland. The places they measure and scan are crucial to our understanding of global climateand forbiddingly hostile as well.

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Printing out the orbital infrastructure

3-D printing is going viral. With 3-D fabrication technology at for the desktop, for LEGOs, and for nanoscale materials, it was only a matter of time before the paradigm found its way into spaceand corporate science fiction. But this promising technology still has to prove itself in terrestrial infrastructure first.

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Dust-laden Hayabusa returns to Earth

IN 2005, the Japanese probe Hayabusa made its rendezvous with Itowaka, a five-hundred-meter long, sausage-shaped asteroid whose circular orbit intersects that of Earth. Yesterday, Japan's space agency announced that the probe had collected the first material ever gathered from an asteroid and delivered successfully to Earth.

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How to paint a fireball in the sky

"Some flashes of lambent light, much like the aurora borealis, were first observed on the northern part of the heavens....as soon as the meteor emerged from behind the cloud, its light was prodigious."

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