Science

NASA spacecraft spots dust cloud around the moon

NASA spacecraft spots dust cloud around the moon

The moon — meaning our moon — has a cloud of dust around it described as lopsided, and it is confounding researchers. Apollo 15 and 17 crews had observed a glow around the moon that was thought to be due to dust, but this latest dust observation — which is thanks to NASA’s LADEE — is said to be different. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is a spacecraft with a dedicated “dust instrument”, and it made its observations while on a low-altitude orbit mission.

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UrtheCast reveals UHD full color videos of cities as seen from space

UrtheCast reveals UHD full color videos of cities as seen from space

UrtheCast, which has been working steadily on getting video of our planet as seen from the International Space Station, has introduced the first videos in full color of Earth as seen from space -- that, at least, the average person and businesses have access to. The videos come from a pair of cameras that have been set up on the ISS, and there are three cities that have been recorded in full color at high definition with them: Boston, USA, London, UK, and Barcelona, Spain.

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LightSail spacecraft burns up on reentry after successful mission

LightSail spacecraft burns up on reentry after successful mission

Early on in the LightSail mission, things weren't going well for the team behind the test mission for a revolutionary spacecraft called LightSail. The test mission was hit with a software glitch early on that kept the LightSail from being deployed. Eventually the reason that the spacecraft was in safe mode was found to be power levels lower than expected in the Earth's shadow and higher than expected in direct sunlight.

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Hockey puck survives fire, ice, and now thermite

Hockey puck survives fire, ice, and now thermite

If you spend any time on the Internet at all, you’ve likely seen that now infamous red-hot ball of nickel burning its way through friend and foe alike: fruits, random objects, nothing has managed to stand in its way. That is, until it met a hockey puck. Turns out hockey pucks are able to do more than take a beating from hockey sticks — they hardly sizzle when paired with red hot destruction. As an act of revenge, perhaps, the nickel-bearer turned to a more destructive force — but, as you’ll see in the video after the jump, a hockey puck is not easily destroyed.

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Self-awareness (probably) isn’t unique to humans

Self-awareness (probably) isn’t unique to humans

You've likely heard it said that humans are distinguished by their self-awareness, but researchers are saying that such statements might be bull. According to recent research, humans likely aren't the only creatures on this planet to possess self-awareness, with some animals possessing at least a primitive level of awareness of self. The key is mental simulation of an environment and the need for at least a low level of self awareness to do that, and signs that some animals are capable of such environmental simulation.

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Researchers create engine powered by water evaporation

Researchers create engine powered by water evaporation

A Columbia University team of researchers have created what is said to be the first ever engine that is driven by evaporation. The engine, in this case, is small and made of plastic and able to power LED lights and similar mild tasks when exposed to a plain puddle of water. The engine is being hailed as a scientific breakthrough, and it could in the future prove to be an inexpensive and effective way to generate useable amounts of energy from commonly found bodies of water.

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While dinosaurs didn’t rule the ancient tropics, alligators did

While dinosaurs didn’t rule the ancient tropics, alligators did

University of Utah paleontologist Randall Irmis and his colleagues have discovered some of the reasons why dinosaurs avoided the ancient tropics. It's partially because they just did not like the weather. You like what you're used to, after all. These researchers suggest that while dinosaurs did not enjoy the dry, hot landscape, other creatures roamed relatively freely. This included the armored aetosaurs and long-snouted phytosaurs you see in the image above. The latter is of the family that eventually gave rise to what we know today as alligators and crocodiles.

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Big dinos avoided the tropics due to chaotic climates

Big dinos avoided the tropics due to chaotic climates

Big dinosaurs, it turns out, avoided the tropics for millions of years due to chaotic, unpredictable climates. Such drastic changes in the climate would have been detrimental to survival, causing the larger dinosaurs to avoid such regions for tens of millions of years. Small carnivorous dinosaurs could have been found in the tropics, but researchers discovered that the larger plant eating dinosaurs stuck to high latitudes during the Triassic period. Climate, it turns out, was to blame for such dinosaur distributions.

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NASA shows off its first 4K ISS video

NASA shows off its first 4K ISS video

For decades, NASA has been big on getting normal, everyday Americans excited about space exploration and travel. One of the ways it gets the public involved with space is by releasing lots of beautiful photos and videos for people to check out. To make space look better to those interested enough in it to vote for elected officials that support giving NASA money for space exploration, NASA has always moved its video and photo technology along as technology progressed.

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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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