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Your Sunday Space Surprise: Philae is alive!

Your Sunday Space Surprise: Philae is alive!

Scientists at the European Space Agency have had a Sunday surprise, with the plucky Philae lander unexpectedly waking up after over half a year of hibernation. The probe landed on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014, but celebrations quickly soured when the ESA team realized its positioning would leave it short on sunlight for its solar panels. After around 60 hours of operation, Philae shut down and left the scientists uncertain whether it would be heard from again.

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This “genetic switch” could explain the big gonad decision

This “genetic switch” could explain the big gonad decision

A groundbreaking study could answer fundamental questions about gender and sex determination, and the process by which cells become either eggs or sperm. While males and females may come from the same basic beginnings, it was unclear until now how the reproductive precursor cells in vertebrates went on to become either the sperm in males or the eggs in females. Turns out, new research from Japan indicates, it's all down to a gene that's particularly active in female animals.

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Chimps are now an Endangered Species: scientific research restricted

Chimps are now an Endangered Species: scientific research restricted

Primate researcher Jane Goodall calls today's decision "an awakening." The United States has named chimpanzees as full endangered species, giving them protection from a far wider variety of threats. This includes threats from scientists. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have made clear this week that permits issued for the scientific testing of chimpanzees from this point on will be issued only when the purpose is to "benefit the species in the wild" or to "enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species." Habit restoration, and all that good stuff.

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NASA photographs Pluto: watch New Horizons approach

NASA photographs Pluto: watch New Horizons approach

Today NASA's New Horizons spacecraft presented a series of images beamed back from space as it moves close to Pluto. Closer than we've ever been before. This mission's images - attained between May 29th and June 2nd, show Pluto as a "complex world with very bright and very dark terrain." NASA suggests that these images "afford the best views ever obtained of the Pluto system." Below you'll see these images in their full glory - and NASA's provided links to RAW images as well, if that's what you're all about.

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English high school student discovers exoplanet

English high school student discovers exoplanet

Discovering a new planet is something that many astronomers dream of and at the ripe age of 15-years-old, an English high school student named Tom Wagg has done just that. Wagg has discovered a gas-giant exoplanet that he first came across two years ago while he was doing a work-experience study at Keele University in England. Additional observations of the planet have now been made and the existence of the planet has been confirmed.

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Ancient genomics reveal Bronze Age secrets

Ancient genomics reveal Bronze Age secrets

Trying to glean some details about long gone ages isn't easy, and though there's a wealth of knowledge already discerned, a lot of things are still called into question. Thanks to ancient genomics, though, the practice of sequencing ancient genomes, researchers are learning more about the Eurasian Bronze Age and some of the secrets it has long retained. The time period runs from approximately 3000BC to 1000BC, and was a big transitioning period for many things: culture, technology, and more.

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Saturn’s newest ring is the largest in the solar system

Saturn’s newest ring is the largest in the solar system

When it comes to planets with ring systems in our solar system, we all know that Saturn has rings. What we didn’t know for decades was that the traditional ring system we all know about wasn't all of the rings Saturn had. In 2009, scientists discovered a new ring around Saturn and after being researched for years, scientists think they now know how large the newest ring around Saturn is.

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Watch a chimp drink alcohol for science

Watch a chimp drink alcohol for science

Due to a local human village tapping in to raffia palm trees for their alcohol-rich sap, chimpanzees have found their own way to drink the drink in Bossou. This Guinea, West Africa environment sets the stage for a research paper which suggests that not only are African apes and humans both able to effectively metabolize ethanol, we're both voluntarily doing so now, too. This drinking of the contents of the raffia palm (Raphia hookeri, Arecaceae) by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Bossou in Guinea, West Africa, was observed from 1995 to 2012.

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Snapshot Serengeti snaps millions of wild photos without photographers

Snapshot Serengeti snaps millions of wild photos without photographers

Project Snapshot Serengeti captures 1.2 million sets of photos, all automated, all capturing wild animals in their natural habitats. That's SETS of photos, not just individual photos - there are millions in the full collection. Over a period of about 3 years, from 2010 to 2013, this camera project lived inside the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Whether or not you've been privileged to see the website, SnapshotSerengeti.org has had citizen-scientists classifying images in this project for several years. Now here in June of 2015, the full collection has been published for the public.

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Scientists break dinosaur bones, find red blood cells

Scientists break dinosaur bones, find red blood cells

Dinosaur bones in London contain traces of what appear to be red blood cells and collagen. These scientists have pulled up results from dinosaur bones they'd only otherwise called "crap" - bones so fragmented and shotty they'd been put into storage. Because of this, material scientist Sergio Bertazzo asked paleontologist Susannah Maidment (both of them from Imperial College in London) whether the bones might be OK to break open and study. One morning Bertazzo "turned on the microscope... and thought 'wait - that looks like blood!'"

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