Science

NASA’s Dawn captures most detailed pics of Ceres to date

NASA’s Dawn captures most detailed pics of Ceres to date

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is back in dwarf planet Ceres’ sunny-side orbit after spending in excess of a month on the planet’s dark side. Now that it can see again, the spacecraft has captured a series of new pictures of the tiny planet, and they are the most detailed and highest resolution so far, having been snapped at a distance of 21,000 miles. Furthermore, the images have been aggregated into a short animation showing the planet rotate in relatively small increments.

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Researchers find oldest stone tools predate modern humans

Researchers find oldest stone tools predate modern humans

The record for oldest stone tools discovered has been broken, with researchers working in Kenya finding a set of tools that are about 3.3 million years old. This eclipses stone tools that had been discovered in Ethiopia in the past, which had up until now been the oldest stone tools discovered. That’s not the most interesting part of the discovery, however — these newest old tools are older than the earliest genus Homo human fossils. The tools, then, are older than modern humans, dashing some previously held beliefs.

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Scientists mistook microwave interference for alien messages

Scientists mistook microwave interference for alien messages

Mistakes do happen even in science, which is the whole basis for the experimentation process. But there are some mistakes are just too embarrassing to make. Take for example this group of scientists who stumbled on what they thought could possibly be messages from intelligent lifeforms in outer space. Fact, however, couldn't be farther from the truth, or nearer to the scientists, in this case. Apparently, the source of the shorts bursts of energy was nothing more than their very own laboratory microwave.

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New SpaceX Falcon 9 crash video shows how close they came

New SpaceX Falcon 9 crash video shows how close they came

SpaceX had a successful launch this week to send supplies to the ISS inside its Dragon capsule. The more interesting bit about the launch was SpaceX's latest attempt to have the Falcon 9 rocket land on a floating platform at sea so that it could be refitted and reused. The last time SpaceX tried to have the Falcon 9 land at sea on the platform it created a fantastic explosion.

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NASA’s Mercury probe is about to crash (and they couldn’t be happier)

NASA’s Mercury probe is about to crash (and they couldn’t be happier)

Normally a hugely expensive spacecraft crashing into a planet wouldn't be a cause for celebration, but NASA scientists are gleeful at the prospect later this month. Messenger, a probe launched back in 2004 and which has been orbiting Mercury for roughly the past four years, will very soon run out of propellant and go hurtling toward the surface. Rather than mourning it, however, NASA is positively embracing the destruction.

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NASA Spitzer Space Telescope discovers exoplanet 13,000 light years away

NASA Spitzer Space Telescope discovers exoplanet 13,000 light years away

NASA has used the Spitzer Space Telescope to discover many exoplanets and so far, most of those exoplanets have been relatively close in the cosmic scheme of things. The latest exoplanet that NASA has discovered with Spitzer is much farther away from the Earth than most previously discovered. The new planet is a distant gas giant that is about 13,000 light years away making it one of the most distant planets known to man.

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Tiny camera can power itself and other devices

Tiny camera can power itself and other devices

To innovators envisioning the Internet of Things, wherein everyday devices operate on a wireless, interconnected network, component size and battery life are incredibly important. This self-powered camera was created by a team of scientists from Columbia University, and the prototype may pave the way for future cameras to charge themselves as they capture images, negating the need to a battery pack or charger at all. They claim their discovery is the first self-powered camera that can harvest energy as it takes pictures.

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Watch the SpaceX rocket landing (now in video form)

Watch the SpaceX rocket landing (now in video form)

Before we'd only had tiny glimpses of the near-landing bit of the Falcon 9 rocket. Now we've got a fully operational video from off the starboard bow. This video shows how the rocket flew in at great speed, nearly - so very, very nearly - landing on the "Just Read The Instructions" autonomous sea craft. But with a final blast, it fell to the wayside. Time to try, try again, of course, as Elon Musk suggests they'll be approaching an 80% success rate by the end of this year.

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Gray whale’s migration from Russia to Mexico breaks record

Gray whale’s migration from Russia to Mexico breaks record

A nine-year-old female gray whale has set a new record by migrating from Russia to Mexico and back again, a multi-thousand mile trip that began in November of 2011. Researchers know of the similar gray whales that hang out around California’s coast during the fall migration, and they’ve relatively recently turned their attention to the western north Pacific gray whale population living near the Russian coast. One of those whales broke the researchers’ belief that the Russian whales were isolated, however, by swimming from Russia’s Sakhalin Island to Baja California’s Cabo San Lucas.

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SpaceX launch succeeds: even a crash is progress

SpaceX launch succeeds: even a crash is progress

As the latest Falcon 9 Dragon rocket took off yesterday, history was once again made by SpaceX. While some headlines suggest that the "landing" bit of this mission was a failure - we don't see it that way. The first part of the mission was to send supplies to the International Space Station - that part is in progress. The second part was to successfully land the Falcon 9 back on an autonomous barge in the Atlantic Ocean - it succeeded, but also failed. While the rocket is damaged enough now that it cannot be reused, SpaceX has again come far closer than any other organization at landing like this in history.

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