Science

Jurrasic World for real: new “dragon” dinosaur turns up in China

Jurrasic World for real: new “dragon” dinosaur turns up in China

At 15-meters long, Qijianglong (pronounced “CHI-jyang-lon") was not a small dinosaur. Half of its length was made up of neck, while a tiny head sat on one end and a four-legged hulk of a body sat at the other. The digging site at which this animal was found was first discovered in 2006, and only now have paleontologists gotten to a point where they're comfortable confirming the new species, long neck and head included. This creature is from the mamenchisaurids family and the sauropodomorpha (sauropod) suborder - long necked, plant-eating dinosaurs found all around the world.

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Skull shows earliest Humans and Neanderthals cross-breed

Skull shows earliest Humans and Neanderthals cross-breed

A 55,000-year-old skull has been discovered in a cave in western Galilee, one that's going by the name "Manot." According to a study published this week in Nature, this is the oldest representation of human life in a place and time in which Neanderthals are known to have lived. This skull shows features found in both European Neaderthals and humans around the time the being it belonged to died. Anatomically Modern Humans and Neantherthal traits are both present, and the team that've published the study we're seeing today seem to think they've found something rather extraordinary.

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Falcon Heavy flight animation reveals SpaceX’s future vision

Falcon Heavy flight animation reveals SpaceX’s future vision

Elon Musk's SpaceX has just released a new flight animation video that reveals its vision of how it wants it next launch to proceed. Presuming, of course, it doesn't end up in flames. It shows what will be the first test flight for the heavy-lift Falcon rocket and also throws in some hints of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where SpaceX plans to have its second Florida launch pad later this year. That is, of course, if all goes well.

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Scientists capture laser bouncing off a mirror on video

Scientists capture laser bouncing off a mirror on video

The fact that lasers can be bounced off a mirror is nothing new. Anyone with a laser pointer can figure this out for themselves and researchers have been bouncing lasers off mirrors for years. A group of scientists has captured the flight path of a laser beam on video for the first time. Capturing the laser on video is much more difficult than it might seem.

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Kepler discovers our Solar System’s “ancient twin”

Kepler discovers our Solar System’s “ancient twin”

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has been studying the system they've called Kepler-444 for about four years. This system, they say, was formed about 11.2 billion years ago, making it one of the most ancient star systems with terrestrial-sized planets discovered thus far. This star system is important not because of its age, on the other hand, but because of its resemblance to our own Solar System. Five planets surround this system's star, each of them rocky, none of them able to support life (as we know it, that is to say).

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Launch America: SpaceX, Boeing to taxi NASA astronauts to ISS

Launch America: SpaceX, Boeing to taxi NASA astronauts to ISS

This week the folks at NASA, SpaceX, and Boeing presented a new program for their combined efforts to continue sending astronauts to the International Space Station. This Commercial Crew Transportation system will be operating under the title Launch America. This system is working with both SpaceX and Boeing, both private organizations, to bring the cost of sending US-based astronauts down significantly. NASA has been using the same system since 2011 to send astronauts to the ISS, one based on Russian technology, one this Launch America system will replace.

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Exoplanet J1407b discovered with more rings than Saturn

Exoplanet J1407b discovered with more rings than Saturn

There's a planet out there in the universe that has rings of matter surrounding it so large, they eclipse its nearby sun. This is J1407b, near the star J1407. The image you see here comes from Ron Miller of the University of Rochester, and it shows the planet and its rings as they would have appeared in early 2007. The planet was discovered back in 2012, but just now its become clear how extraordinary this planetary body truly is. Rings so massive they make our nearby planet Saturn look miniature by comparison.

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Google Lunar XPRIZE awards $5.25m to moon mission hopefuls

Google Lunar XPRIZE awards $5.25m to moon mission hopefuls

The Google Lunar XPRIZE competition has handed out $5.25m to five companies for their contribution to taking a private spacecraft to the moon, with the so-called Milestone Prizes awarded in advance of final entries in 2016. XPRIZE aims to spur space exploration with a $30m prize pot from Google's wallet, challenging private industry and researchers help take a private craft to the lunar surface, have it travel at least 500 meters, and transmit high-definition video and imagery back to Earth. Although none of the Milestone winners have actually made it to the moon quite yet, they've been given an early bite of the award cash for their current progress.

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A huge asteroid is about to buzz Earth

A huge asteroid is about to buzz Earth

Try not to let it worry you, but a 550 meter wide chunk of space rock is going to hurtle past Earth at more than 33,000 mph very soon, another near-miss asteroid a celestially-slight 745,000 miles from our planet. While it may not sound all that close - the moon is on average 239k miles from us - asteroid 2004 BL86 is enough to have astronomers from NASA and other space agencies tracking its location closely, given the potential for destruction (or even species-level catastrophe like the "colossal bad luck" that saw the dinosaurs wiped out) the impact of such a rock would have.

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NASA eyes using small helicopters to help Mars rovers

NASA eyes using small helicopters to help Mars rovers

Mars might very soon have its own version of a drone to patrol its skies. NASA is considering creating a Mars Helicopter, an addon to future rovers that will become the advance party of these roaming laboratories. These vehicles will become the eyes of scientists on earth that will help them better determine where to direct rovers to, making each trip more efficient and focusing primarily on more "exciting" parts of Martian landscape, increasing the distance traveled up to three times.

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