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NASA will launch CubeSats as part of next year’s Mars mission

NASA will launch CubeSats as part of next year’s Mars mission

NASA has announced that when it launches a stationary lander next year as part of its Mars effort, it will include a pair of CubeSats. This will mark the first time CubeSats have been flown into deep space, says the space agency, and a success will demonstrate that the technology is able to rapidly transmit data about the status of the primary spacecraft destined for Mars. The CubeSats were both built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and will fly independent of the InSight lander, which will land on Mars next September.

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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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Proposed solar storms alarm could give 24hr advanced warning

Proposed solar storms alarm could give 24hr advanced warning

Solar storms can, at times, present a problem for our planet -- you've likely experienced at one point or another GPS troubles and such due to solar storms. In some cases, though, solar storms could pose larger risks to things like power grids. Advanced warning of these larger, potentially dangerous storms gives people a chance to prepare, but present systems only give up to an hour's warning. A new proposed system, however, would increase that warning time to a day or longer.

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Space Station trio land safe after 199 days in orbit

Space Station trio land safe after 199 days in orbit

A trio of crew members have returned from the International Space Station after 199 days spent in orbit, arriving back on our planet earlier today to mark an all around successful trip. The crew underwent medical tests of various sorts upon returning, including things like performing tasks, taking steps over obstacles, and tasks to test how well they can balance — all of which lends data to the space agency’s researchers regarding the effects of time spent in space on the human body.

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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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Life on Mars may be preserved in meteorite-made glass

Life on Mars may be preserved in meteorite-made glass

A paper released this week by K. Cannon and J. Mustard shows how ancient life on Mars could be preserved by meteorite glass. Impact glass, or glass-rich impactites, have the ability to both encapsulate and preserve biosignatures on Earth. Because of this, these scientists show how Mars may have bio-rich preserves that rovers on Mars may not have even begun to explore. While we've been looking for signs of life - or ancient life - on Mars for many years, we might just have not been looking in the right place!

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SpaceX GoPro shows the calmer side of a rocket launch

SpaceX GoPro shows the calmer side of a rocket launch

The forces exerted on a rocket during launch are incredible. The vibration, G forces, and friction that go along with firing off into space are very hard on equipment and people. However, once the rocket slips out of the Earth's atmosphere, things are suddenly calm and serene. This SpaceX footage is a perfect example of the serene part of a rocket launch.

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Facebook ditches plan to send satellite into space

Facebook ditches plan to send satellite into space

Many of the major tech companies that rely on the internet for users to take advantage of their service are focused on getting people online in areas where broadband is traditionally lacking. Getting the next billion internet users online is a big area of focus for Google. Facebook is also interested in getting as many people online as possible. The more people who use the web around the world, the more users Facebook gains and the more revenue it can potentially generate.

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Einstein ring holds gargantuan galaxy at the edge of the Universe

Einstein ring holds gargantuan galaxy at the edge of the Universe

Japanese researchers have discovered a new galaxy so far away, it is in the outskirts of the charted Universe. To precisely map this galaxy the scientists turned to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope and used the gravitational lensing of a foreground galaxy, which created a "natural telescope," bending and magnifying light from the hidden, background galaxy, SDP.81. As the natural telescope magnifies SDP.81, the image loses focus and becomes smeared. The team of scientists was able to create a mathematical model to account for lens distortion and bring obscured details to light. In a way, the model is like correcting galactic astigmatism.

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NASA finds glass on Mars, could hold signs of life

NASA finds glass on Mars, could hold signs of life

Every mark on a planet's surface details its history. Mars is long suspected of being home to signs of life, so its history is of particular interest to researchers. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has found glass deposits sitting at the nadir of some impact craters on Mars. Previous scientific inquiries into impact glass on earth have been led by Peter Schultz from Brown University. While working on an expedition in Argentina he discovered ancient plant matter and organic material embedded in glass that was formed by an impact from millions of years ago. He proposed that the similar impacts could preserve signs of life on other planets. If they could isolate glass deposits on Mars, there is a chance they could detect and analyze the biosignatures.

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Tracking Bill Nye’s Solar Sailer LightSail

Tracking Bill Nye’s Solar Sailer LightSail

LightSail has deployed, and with it, a Mission Control Center with the ability to predict where the solar sailer will be moving above the Earth as it makes its important journey. The good news is that this solar sailer will be passing over the United States. The bad news is - it's probably already passed over you for the first time if you're reading this article in the late afternoon. This won't be the only opportunity you get to be close to a solar sailer, on the other hand, as development will continue well into the future with The Planetary Society.

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