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Preview: EurekAlert! - Space and Planetary Science

EurekAlert! - Space and Planetary Science



The premier online source for science news since 1996. A service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.



Last Build Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2017 12:45:01 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); All rights reserved.
 



Infrared NASA imagery shows development of Tropical Depression 31W

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) NASA's Aqua satellite provided infrared imagery of the latest tropical cyclone in the South China Sea.



Heavy nitrogen molecules reveal planetary-scale tug-of-war

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(Rice University) Researchers from Rice University, UCLA, Michigan State and the University of New Mexico have discovered a planetary-scale tug-of-war between life, deep Earth and the upper atmosphere that is expressed in atmospheric nitrogen. The research appears this week in Science Advances.



Taking a spin on plasma space tornadoes with NASA observations

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) New NASA mission results show that tornado-like swirls of space plasma create tumultuous boundaries in the near-Earth environment, letting dangerous high-energy particles slip into near Earth space.



Interstellar space probes: Where's the brakes?!

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(Goethe University Frankfurt) With a miniaturized space probe capable of being accelerated to a quarter of the speed of light, we could reach Alpha Centauri, our nearest star, in 20 to 50 years. However, without a mechanism to slow it down, the space probe could only collect data from the star and its planets as it zoomed past. A theoretical physicist at Goethe University Frankfurt has now examined whether interstellar spacecraft can be decelerated using 'magnetic sails.'



A popular tool to trace Earth's oxygen history can give false positives

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(Georgia Institute of Technology) If someone cries 'Eureka!' because it looks like oxygen appeared in Earth's ancient atmosphere long before the body of evidence indicated, be careful. If it was a chromium isotope system reading that caused the enthusiasm, it might need to be curbed.



Scientists win UN data prize for monitoring threats to South African biodiversity hotspot

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(University at Buffalo) The team created a digital tool that maps and analyzes vegetation in the fynbos, a belt of ecologically important shrubland in the Cape Floristic Region. The system can detect abnormal changes in fynbos plant life. Similar tools could be useful for monitoring ecosystems such as those in the Mediterranean Basin, California or South Western Australia.



NASA detects solar flare pulses at sun and Earth

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) Two recent studies show how solar flares exhibit pulses or oscillations in the amount of energy being sent out. Such research provides new insights on the origins of these massive solar flares and the space weather they produce. This is key information as humans and robotic missions venture out into the solar system, farther and farther from Earth.



New physical model explains the origin of Earth's water

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo) Objects scattered to the inner region of the Solar System by Jupiter's growth brought most of the water now found on Earth. Authors of an journal Icarus article describe a computational model which simulates the gravitational interaction between celestial bodies during the era of planet formation, also providing basis for the hypothesis of the dragging of water-rich "planetesimals".



Solar minimum surprisingly constant

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(National Institutes of Natural Sciences) Using more than half a century of observations, Japanese astronomers have discovered that the microwaves coming from the Sun at the minimums of the past five solar cycles have been the same each time, despite large differences in the maximums of the cycles. This is an important step in understanding the creation and amplification of solar magnetic fields, which generate sunspots and other solar activity.



Nearby pulsars shed light on the antimatter puzzle

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences) There are too many high-energy positrons in the cosmic rays reaching the Earth. These positrons (particles that are antimatter equivalents of electrons) could be being produced by pulsars in our vicinity. The most recent measurements from the HAWC Observatory in Mexico have practically excluded this possibility, strengthening the competing and much more exotic hypothesis concerning the origin of the excess positrons.



Influx of earth-bound positrons must have exotic origin, study suggests

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(American Association for the Advancement of Science) The excess positrons arriving at Earth must have a more exotic origin than nearby pulsars, report researchers.



High-altitude observatory sheds light on origin of excess anti-matter

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(University of Maryland) Researchers working with the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma-Ray Observatory have made the first detailed measurements of two pulsars suspected as the source of a mysterious positron accumulation near Earth. Despite being the right age and the right distance from Earth, the pulsars lie within an extended murky cloud that prevents most positrons from escaping. The results suggest there must be an alternate explanation for the positron excess -- perhaps one involving dark matter.



On the origins of star stuff: HAWC collaboration sheds light on origin of anti-matter

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(Michigan Technological University) Michigan Tech team and others use a high-altitude observatory in Mexico to better understand where gamma rays come from.



Salt pond in Antarctica, among the saltiest waters on Earth, is fed from beneath

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(University of Washington) One of the saltiest bodies on Earth, an analog for what water might look like on Mars, is just one piece of a larger aquifer.



What is the computational power of the universe?

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)) Can a close look at the universe give us solutions to problems too difficult for a computer -- even if we built a computer larger than a planet? Physicist Stephen Jordan reflects on this question in a new NIST video, along with a scientific paper that considers one particular tough problem the universe might answer.



Hunt for dark matter is narrowed by new University of Sussex research

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(University of Sussex) Results disprove existence of a type of light axion.



NASA measures Haikui's remnant rainfall over southern Vietnam

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite provided data on rainfall over Vietnam from the remnants of former Tropical Storm Haikui.



FIREBIRD II and NASA mission locate whistling space electrons' origins

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) New research using data from NASA's Van Allen Probes mission and FIREBIRD II CubeSat has shown that plasma waves in space are likely responsible for accelerating high-energy particles into Earth's atmosphere.



Off track: How storms will veer in a warmer world

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(Weizmann Institute of Science) The dry, semi-arid regions are expanding into higher latitudes, and temperate, rainy regions are migrating poleward. In a paper that that was recently published in Nature Geoscience, Weizmann Institute of Science researchers provide new insight into this phenomenon by discovering that mid-latitude storms are steered further toward the poles in a warmer climate.



Winners of the 2017 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(American Association for the Advancement of Science) Stories on the social value of aging female killer whales, a frantic meteor hunt in the Australian Outback and the unusual brain of the world's greatest solo climber are among the winners of the 2017 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards. Judges also honored 'Boomtown, Flood Town,' an ambitious online report by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, and a Reuters series on inadequate tracking of 'superbug' infections.



Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(University of California - Santa Cruz) The gas composition of a planet's atmosphere generally determines how much heat gets trapped in the atmosphere. For the dwarf planet Pluto, however, the predicted temperature based on the composition of its atmosphere was much higher than actual measurements taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. A new study published November 16 in Nature proposes a novel cooling mechanism controlled by haze particles to account for Pluto's frigid atmosphere.



Closest temperate world orbiting quiet star discovered

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(ESO) A temperate Earth-sized planet has been discovered only 11 light-years from the solar system by a team using ESO's unique planet-hunting HARPS instrument. The new world has the designation Ross 128 b and is now the second-closest temperate planet to be detected after Proxima b. It is also the closest planet to be discovered orbiting an inactive red dwarf star, which may increase the likelihood that this planet could potentially sustain life.



WFIRM scientists study space radiation health effects to keep astronauts safe

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center) The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) has been selected by NASA to lead a multi-institutional project to better understand the health risks related to radiation exposure from deep space missions.



With launch of new night sky survey, UW researchers ready for era of 'big data' astronomy

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(University of Washington) On Nov. 14, scientists with the California Institute of Technology, the University of Washington and eight additional partner institutions, announced that the Zwicky Transient Facility, the latest sensitive tool for astrophysical observations in the Northern Hemisphere, has seen 'first light' and took its first detailed image of the night sky. When fully operational in 2018, the ZTF will scan almost the entire northern sky every night.



New NASA mission concept aimed at studying why planets lose their atmospheres

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) A team of NASA scientists want to use Earth as a laboratory to understand how planets lose their atmospheres and has proposed a mission that the agency recently selected as one of five for further consideration as a possible NASA Explorer mission.