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December 2011 Top Stories


Apollo 13 checklist brings $388,375 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas »» Apollo 13 checklist brings $388,375 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas

[Thursday, December 1, 2011] From famous "Houston, we've had a problem..." mission; Historic handwritten calculations made by Lovell in the aftermath of disaster brings highest price for non-moon landed piece of Apollo memorabilia, Nov. 30 in Dallas

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Magnetic Pole Reversal Happens All the (Geologic) Time »» Magnetic Pole Reversal Happens All the (Geologic) Time

[Thursday, December 1, 2011] We know that Earth's magnetic field has flipped its polarity many times over the millennia. In other words, if you were alive about 800,000 years ago, and facing what we call north with a magnetic compass in your hand, the needle would point to 'south.'

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Key Discovery About the Atmosphere of Early Earth »» Key Discovery About the Atmosphere of Early Earth

[Thursday, December 1, 2011] Scientists in the New York Center for Astrobiology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have used the oldest minerals on Earth to reconstruct the atmospheric conditions present on Earth very soon after its birth.

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Cosmic Explosion Explained Just in Time for Christmas »» Cosmic Explosion Explained Just in Time for Christmas

[Thursday, December 1, 2011] An explosion far across the universe rattled astronomers last year on Christmas Day. Called a gamma-ray burst (GRB), it incited a flurry of activity from telescopes in space and on the ground.

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NASA Exercises Contract Option For TDRS-M Satellite Decision Will Retain Hundreds Of Jobs »» NASA Exercises Contract Option For TDRS-M Satellite Decision Will Retain Hundreds Of Jobs

[Thursday, December 1, 2011] NASA has elected to exercise the first of two available contract options for procurement of an additional Tracking Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) from Boeing Satellite Systems, Inc. of El Segundo, Calif.

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Astronomers Hunt Signal of Impending Doom »» Astronomers Hunt Signal of Impending Doom

[Thursday, December 1, 2011] An otherwise nondescript binary star system in the Whirlpool Galaxy has brought astronomers tantalizingly close to their goal of observing a star just before it goes supernova.

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NASA Space Launch System Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction »» NASA Space Launch System Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction

[Thursday, December 1, 2011] The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) intends to issue a Draft NASA Research Announcement (NRA) on or about in the December 12, 2011.

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NASA Announcing Kepler Discoveries at Science Conference »» NASA Announcing Kepler Discoveries at Science Conference

[Thursday, December 1, 2011] NASA will host a news briefing at 8 a.m. PST, Monday, Dec. 5, to announce new discoveries by the Kepler mission. The briefing, during the Kepler Science Conference, will be in building 152 at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

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Thousands to Gather at NASA in Silicon Valley for Technology Festival, Creating Projects for a Better World »» Thousands to Gather at NASA in Silicon Valley for Technology Festival, Creating Projects for a Better World

[Thursday, December 1, 2011] Campus Party announces the first edition of its Silicon Valley Technology Festival, to be held from August 6-12, 2012, at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

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Image: Battered Volcano Tharsis Tholus on Mars »» Image: Battered Volcano Tharsis Tholus on Mars

[Friday, December 2, 2011] The latest image released from Mars Express reveals a large extinct volcano that has been battered and deformed over the aeons.

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NASA MRO HiRISE Image of Mars:  Lava Coating, Flood-Carved Kasei Valles »» NASA MRO HiRISE Image of Mars: Lava Coating, Flood-Carved Kasei Valles

[Friday, December 2, 2011] This HiRISE image covers a small part of the gigantic 1780 kilometer (1100 mile long) set of flood-carved channels on Mars called Kasei Valles. The focus of this image is a much narrower channel that was cut into the floor of the large channel system.

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Photo: Bigach Impact Crater in Kazakhstan As Seen From Space »» Photo: Bigach Impact Crater in Kazakhstan As Seen From Space

[Friday, December 2, 2011] igach Impact Crater in Kazakhstan is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 28 crew member on the International Space Station.

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Photo: Moonrise As Seen From the Space Station »» Photo: Moonrise As Seen From the Space Station

[Friday, December 2, 2011] Backdropped by Earth's horizon and the blackness of space, a full moon is photographed by an Expedition 29 crew member on the International Space Station.

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Image: Mountains and buried ice on Mars »» Image: Mountains and buried ice on Mars

[Friday, December 2, 2011] New images from Mars Express show the Phlegra Montes mountain range, in a region where radar probing indicates large volumes of water ice are hiding below. This could be a source of water for future astronauts.

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Dawn Soars Over Asteroid Vesta in 3-D »» Dawn Soars Over Asteroid Vesta in 3-D

[Friday, December 2, 2011] Glide over the giant asteroid Vesta with NASA's Dawn spacecraft in a new 3-D video. Dawn has been orbiting Vesta since July 15, obtaining high-resolution images of its bumpy, cratered surface and making other scientific measurements.

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ESA suspends tracking support to Russian Mars mission »» ESA suspends tracking support to Russian Mars mission

[Friday, December 2, 2011] In consultation and agreement with Phobos-Grunt mission managers, ESA engineers will end tracking support today.

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Space Station Astronaut Will Answer Video Questions From Public »» Space Station Astronaut Will Answer Video Questions From Public

[Saturday, December 3, 2011] NASA has announced a unique opportunity to ask the commander of the International Space Station a question about his role on the orbiting outpost. Commander Dan Burbank will answer videotaped questions from the public.

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Super Earth-size Planet Confirmed Around Bright F6 Subgiant Star »» Super Earth-size Planet Confirmed Around Bright F6 Subgiant Star

[Saturday, December 3, 2011] A research team led by Steve Howell, NASA Ames Research Center, has announced the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting one of the brightest stars in the Kepler field of view.

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Path to Oxygen in Earth's Atmosphere: Long Series of Starts and Stops »» Path to Oxygen in Earth's Atmosphere: Long Series of Starts and Stops

[Saturday, December 3, 2011] The appearance of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere probably did not occur as a single event, but as a long series of starts and stops, according to geoscientists who investigated rock cores from the FAR DEEP project.

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NASA's Kepler Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-Like Star (W/Video) »» NASA's Kepler Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-Like Star (W/Video)

[Monday, December 5, 2011] NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone," the region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count.

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NASA Challenges Students To Train Like An Astronaut »» NASA Challenges Students To Train Like An Astronaut

[Monday, December 5, 2011] An engaging new NASA program brings the excitement of space exploration to children learning to live a healthy lifestyle.

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December 2011 Issue of Space Quarterly Magazine Available »» December 2011 Issue of Space Quarterly Magazine Available

[Monday, December 5, 2011] The latest edition of Space Quarterly magazine is available. The U.S. edition focuses primarily on space policy and the Space Launch System with a few budget and commercial pieces in between.

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NASA's Voyager Hits New Region at Solar System Edge »» NASA's Voyager Hits New Region at Solar System Edge

[Monday, December 5, 2011] NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space. Data obtained from Voyager over the last year reveal this new region to be a kind of cosmic purgatory.

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NASA Gears Up for Airborne Study of Earth's Radiation Balance »» NASA Gears Up for Airborne Study of Earth's Radiation Balance

[Monday, December 5, 2011] NASA scientists have successfully completed flight tests in preparation for deployment of a multi-year airborne science campaign to study the humidity and chemical composition of air entering the tropical tropopause layer of the atmosphere.

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SETI Search Resumes at Allen Telescope Array Targeting New Planets »» SETI Search Resumes at Allen Telescope Array Targeting New Planets

[Monday, December 5, 2011] The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) is once again searching planetary systems for signals that would be evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. Among its first targets are some of the exoplanet candidates recently discovered by NASA's Kepler space telescop

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Largest Black Holes Ever Measured Found in Nearby Galaxies »» Largest Black Holes Ever Measured Found in Nearby Galaxies

[Tuesday, December 6, 2011] Astronomers recently discovered the most massive black holes to date. Found in two separate nearby galaxies roughly 300 million light years away from Earth, each black hole has a mass equivalent to 10 billion suns.

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The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog, a New Online Database of Habitable Worlds »» The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog, a New Online Database of Habitable Worlds

[Tuesday, December 6, 2011] The Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo (UPR Arecibo) presents a new assessment of the habitability of these worlds as part of its Habitable Exoplanets Catalog (HEC).

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VLT Finds Fastest Rotating Star »» VLT Finds Fastest Rotating Star

[Tuesday, December 6, 2011] ESO's Very Large Telescope has picked up the fastest rotating star found so far. This massive bright young star lies in our neighbouring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 160 000 light-years from Earth.

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European ministers emphasise the role of space for the security of Europe and its citizens »» European ministers emphasise the role of space for the security of Europe and its citizens

[Tuesday, December 6, 2011] The ministers of the ESA-EU Space Council underlined the importance of space systems for security. They drew attention to the role of satellite systems particularly Galileo, EGNOS and GMES as the backbone for improving Europe's response to emergencies.

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Hubble Racks Up 10,000 Science Papers »» Hubble Racks Up 10,000 Science Papers

[Tuesday, December 6, 2011] NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has passed another milestone in its 21 years of exploration: the 10,000th refereed science paper has been published. This makes Hubble one of the most prolific astronomical endeavors in history.

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New NASA Dawn Visuals Show Vesta's 'Color Palette' »» New NASA Dawn Visuals Show Vesta's 'Color Palette'

[Tuesday, December 6, 2011] Vesta appears in a splendid rainbow-colored palette in images obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The colors, assigned by scientists to show different rock or mineral types, reveal Vesta to be a world of many well-separated layers and ingredients.

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Massive Stars Are Born as Giants »» Massive Stars Are Born as Giants

[Tuesday, December 6, 2011] Astronomers from the University of Amsterdam have shown that forming massive stars are much bigger than grown-up massive stars.

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Solar Storms Could 'Sandblast' the Moon »» Solar Storms Could 'Sandblast' the Moon

[Wednesday, December 7, 2011] Solar storms and associated Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) can significantly erode the lunar surface according to a new set of computer simulations by NASA scientists.

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Armadillo Aerospace Launches Successfully from Spaceport America »» Armadillo Aerospace Launches Successfully from Spaceport America

[Wednesday, December 7, 2011] New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) officials announced today a successful launch over the weekend of an advanced sounding rocket designed and built by Armadillo Aerospace.

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ESA responds to Phobos-Grunt tracking request »» ESA responds to Phobos-Grunt tracking request

[Wednesday, December 7, 2011] Communication attempts on Monday, Tuesday and today, which made use of a redundant transmitter on board the spacecraft, did not succeed. The Agency has agreed to continue the effort until Friday, 9 December.

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Vampire Star Reveals its Secrets »» Vampire Star Reveals its Secrets

[Wednesday, December 7, 2011] Astronomers have obtained the best images ever of a star that has lost most of its material to a vampire companion. By combining the light captured by four telescopes at ESO's Paranal Observatory they created a virtual telescope 130 metres across.

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Reborn AGNs? »» Reborn AGNs?

[Wednesday, December 7, 2011] A team of researchers, mainly from Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto (CAUP), has detected a rare type of active galactic nuclei (AGNs), which have simultaneously characteristics of young and old AGNs.

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A Tale of Tails »» A Tale of Tails

[Wednesday, December 7, 2011] An international group of astronomers has discovered extraordinary long one-sided gaseous tails in two groups of galaxies that are amongst the longest structures ever observed in such environments.

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NASA Mars Rover Finds Mineral Vein Deposited by Water »» NASA Mars Rover Finds Mineral Vein Deposited by Water

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has found bright veins of a mineral, apparently gypsum, deposited by water. Analysis of the vein will help improve understanding of the history of wet environments on Mars.

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NOAA activates GOES-15 satellite; deactivates GOES-11 after nearly 12 years in orbit »» NOAA activates GOES-15 satellite; deactivates GOES-11 after nearly 12 years in orbit

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] For 12 years, GOES-11, one of NOAA's geostationary satellites, tracked weather and severe storms that impacted the U.S. West Coast, Hawaii and the Pacific region.

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NASA Opens Registration for Annual Great Moonbuggy Race »» NASA Opens Registration for Annual Great Moonbuggy Race

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] NASA is challenging student inventors to gear up for the agency's 19th annual Great Moonbuggy Race. Registration is open for the engineering design and racing contest set to culminate in a two-day event in Huntsville, Ala., on April 13-14, 2012.

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Proceedings of the IEEE Presents Comprehensive 21st Century Review of Aerospace Communications »» Proceedings of the IEEE Presents Comprehensive 21st Century Review of Aerospace Communications

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] When disasters strike, aerospace communication will be the "go-to technology" to facilitate long-range connectivity, enable rapid response to emergency needs and let survivors communicate with the external world.

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MESSENGER Executes Final Orbit Correction Maneuver of Primary Science Mission »» MESSENGER Executes Final Orbit Correction Maneuver of Primary Science Mission

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] The MESSENGER spacecraft successfully completed a fifth orbit-correction maneuver today to lower MESSENGER's periapsis altitude from 442 to 200 kilometers and decrease the orbital period from 12 hours to 11 hours and 47 minutes.

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New Sub-mm Camera Reveals Dark Side of Universe »» New Sub-mm Camera Reveals Dark Side of Universe

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] A new camera that will revolutionize the field of submillimeter astronomy has been unveiled on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii.

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Milky Way's Magnetic Fields Mapped with Highest Precision »» Milky Way's Magnetic Fields Mapped with Highest Precision

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] With a unique new all-sky map, scientists at MPA have made significant progress toward measuring the magnetic field structure of the Milky Way in unprecedented detail.

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Kepler-22b: A 2.4 Earth-radius Planet in the Habitable Zone of a Sun-like Star »» Kepler-22b: A 2.4 Earth-radius Planet in the Habitable Zone of a Sun-like Star

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] A search of the time-series photometry from NASA's Kepler spacecraft reveals a transiting planet candidate orbiting the 11th magnitude G5 dwarf KIC 10593626 with a period of 290 days.

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Conducting Research on SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo - Payload Opportunities »» Conducting Research on SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo - Payload Opportunities

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] We at Virgin Galactic believe that providing researchers and their experiments affordable, routine, and safe access to space is a core part of our mission.

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NASA Statement on Roscosmos, NASA, ESA, and Future Mars Missions »» NASA Statement on Roscosmos, NASA, ESA, and Future Mars Missions

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] Representatives from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) met in Paris on 7 December 2011 to explore partnership opportunities involving future Mars missions.

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NASA Announces Robotics Student Competition 2012 Grant Awards »» NASA Announces Robotics Student Competition 2012 Grant Awards

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] NASA is continuing its strong support for the annual FIRST Robotics Competition, which inspires student interest in science, technology, and mathematics through a challenge to design and build a robot.

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NASA's Management of Moon Rocks and Other Astromaterials Loaned for Research, Education, and Public Display »» NASA's Management of Moon Rocks and Other Astromaterials Loaned for Research, Education, and Public Display

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin today released an audit examining NASA's controls over loans of moon rocks and other astromaterials to researchers, exhibitors, and educators.

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NASA Deputy Administrator Garver Tours Blue Origin - Announces April Engine Testing At NASA Stennis »» NASA Deputy Administrator Garver Tours Blue Origin - Announces April Engine Testing At NASA Stennis

[Thursday, December 8, 2011] Blue Origin is one of NASA's commercial partners opening a new chapter in human exploration by developing innovative systems to reach low Earth orbit as part of the Commercial Crew Development Program.

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2012 Aerospace & Defense Industry Perspective »» 2012 Aerospace & Defense Industry Perspective

[Friday, December 9, 2011] In defense, large segments of the industrial base may disappear as spending shifts from investment in research, development, and production of new capabilities toward services and support for older platforms and systems.

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Early Earth May Have Been Prone to Deep Freezes »» Early Earth May Have Been Prone to Deep Freezes

[Friday, December 9, 2011] Researchers have adapted a three-dimensional, general circulation model of Earth's climate to a time some 2.8 billion years ago think the planet may have been more prone to catastrophic glaciation than previously believed.

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Study Shows More Shrubbery in a Warming World »» Study Shows More Shrubbery in a Warming World

[Friday, December 9, 2011] Scientists have used satellite data from NASA-built Landsat missions to confirm that more than 20 years of warming temperatures in northern Quebec, Canada, have resulted in an increase in the amount and extent of shrubs and grasses.

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Paleoclimate Record Points Toward Potential Rapid Climate Changes »» Paleoclimate Record Points Toward Potential Rapid Climate Changes

[Friday, December 9, 2011] New research into the Earth's paleoclimate history suggests the potential for rapid climate changes this century, including multiple meters of sea level rise, if global warming is not abated.

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NASA Announces Launch Date and Milestones for Spacex Flight »» NASA Announces Launch Date and Milestones for Spacex Flight

[Friday, December 9, 2011] NASA has announced the launch target for Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight will be Feb. 7, 2012.

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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Observes Final Lunar Eclipse of the Year »» Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Observes Final Lunar Eclipse of the Year

[Friday, December 9, 2011] Orbiting 31 miles above the lunar surface, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft will get a "front-row seat" to the total lunar eclipse on Dec. 10, 2011.

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Antarctic Expedition Checks CryoSat Down-under »» Antarctic Expedition Checks CryoSat Down-under

[Friday, December 9, 2011] Next week marks 100 years since Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. As a team of scientists validate data from ESA's CryoSat mission, it's hard to imagine what these first intrepid explorers would have thought of today's advances in polar science.

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Extremely Large Telescope Moves Closer to Reality »» Extremely Large Telescope Moves Closer to Reality

[Saturday, December 10, 2011] At its 124th meeting, at ESO's headquarters, on 7-8 December 2011 the ESO Council approved the budget for 2012, which contains funding for some of the first elements of the E-ELT.

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Star Explosion Leaves Behind a Rose »» Star Explosion Leaves Behind a Rose

[Saturday, December 10, 2011] About 3,700 years ago people on Earth would have seen a brand-new bright star in the sky. As it slowly dimmed out of sight, it was eventually forgotten, until modern astronomers found its remains -- called Puppis A.

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Fresh Impact Craters on Asteroid Vesta »» Fresh Impact Craters on Asteroid Vesta

[Saturday, December 10, 2011] This image, taken December 6, 2011, combines two separate views of the giant asteroid Vesta obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The images were taken by Dawn's framing camera.

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Early Black Holes Grew Big Eating Cold, Fast Food »» Early Black Holes Grew Big Eating Cold, Fast Food

[Monday, December 12, 2011] Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Bruce and Astrid McWilliams Center for Cosmology have discovered what caused the rapid growth of early supermassive black holes - a steady diet of cold, fast food.

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Mars Rover Opportunity to Stop and Study Rocks (with photos) »» Mars Rover Opportunity to Stop and Study Rocks (with photos)

[Monday, December 12, 2011] Opportunity is currently exploring one of the candidate sites for winter, on the north end of "Cape sols 2791-2797, November 30 - December 6, 2011: York" on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

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Orbital Selects »» Orbital Selects "Antares" as Permanent Name for New Rocket Created by the Taurus II R&D Program

[Monday, December 12, 2011] Orbital Sciences Corporation today announced that Antares will be the permanent operational name for the medium-class launch vehicle created by its research and development program formerly known as Taurus II.

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NASA's Dawn Spirals Down to Lowest Orbit »» NASA's Dawn Spirals Down to Lowest Orbit

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011] NASA's Dawn spacecraft successfully maneuvered into its closest orbit around the giant asteroid Vesta today, beginning a new phase of science observations.

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Coalition for Space Exploration contest winner's innovative video answers the question »» Coalition for Space Exploration contest winner's innovative video answers the question

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011] The Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) is pleased to announce that Caleb Ekeroth is the grand prize winner of its "What's Next?" in space exploration contest. Ekeroth's video titled, "Visit Mars Today.

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NASA Announcement: Game Changing Opportunities in Technology Development »» NASA Announcement: Game Changing Opportunities in Technology Development

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011] This publication announces NASA, Office of Chief Technologist's Game Changing Development (GCD) Program's plans to release the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 NASA Research Announcement "Game Changing Opportunities in Technology Development"

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Cassini Radar View of Southern Enceladus »» Cassini Radar View of Southern Enceladus

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011] NASA's Cassini spacecraft obtained these views of the south polar area of Saturn's moon Enceladus in visible and near-visible (ultraviolet and infrared) light and synthetic-aperture radar (SAR).

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Leading space technologists converge at ESA's Technology Innovation Days »» Leading space technologists converge at ESA's Technology Innovation Days

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011] More than 260 European technologists, engineers and industrial representatives gathered at ESTEC, ESA's main technical centre at Noordwijk, the Netherlands, for the second annual Technology- Innovation Days on 22 - 23 November.

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Experiment to Reveal How Key Elements Were Forged »» Experiment to Reveal How Key Elements Were Forged

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011] Ernst K. Zinner, PhD has received a three-year, $1,380,000 grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to study presolar grains in a sample of the Murchison meteorite

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Paul Allen Announces Revolution in Space Transportation Stratolaunch System »» Paul Allen Announces Revolution in Space Transportation Stratolaunch System

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011] Entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul G. Allen announced today that he and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan have reunited to develop the next generation of space travel.

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ATLAS & CMS Experiments Present Higgs Search Status »» ATLAS & CMS Experiments Present Higgs Search Status

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011] In a seminar held at CERN today, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented the status of their searches for the Standard Model Higgs boson.

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Gazing Out of the Cupola at Earth Below »» Gazing Out of the Cupola at Earth Below

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011] NASA astronaut Mike Fossum, Expedition 29 commander, uses a still camera to photograph the topography of a point on Earth from a window in the Cupola of the International Space Station. I

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Virgin Galactic welcomes announcement of new air-launched space system »» Virgin Galactic welcomes announcement of new air-launched space system

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011] Virgin Galactic welcomes announcement of new air-launched space system as foundation for commercial orbital operation

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Johnson Space Center and Houston Technology Center Partner for Entrepreneurs »» Johnson Space Center and Houston Technology Center Partner for Entrepreneurs

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) and the Houston Technology Center (HTC) have formed a strategic partnership to further expand HTC's mission of accelerating the growth of emerging technology companies in the Houston region.

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NASA's Voyager spacecraft that toured outer planets nearing solar system edge »» NASA's Voyager spacecraft that toured outer planets nearing solar system edge

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] In 1977, Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president, Elvis died, Virginia park ranger Roy Sullivan was hit by lightning a record seventh time, and two NASA space probes destined to turn planetary science on its head launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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NASA Developing Comet Harpoon for Sample Return »» NASA Developing Comet Harpoon for Sample Return

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] The best way to grab a sample of a rotating comet that is racing through the inner solar system at up to 150,000 miles per hour while spewing chunks of ice, rock and dust may be to avoid the risky business of landing on it.

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Fermi Shows that Tycho's Star Shines in Gamma Rays »» Fermi Shows that Tycho's Star Shines in Gamma Rays

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] In early November 1572, observers on Earth witnessed the appearance of a "new star" in the constellation Cassiopeia, an event now recognized as the brightest naked-eye supernova in more than 400 years.

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Media Invited To Simulated Asteroid Campout In Houston »» Media Invited To Simulated Asteroid Campout In Houston

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] For three days this week, a small part of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston will simulate a human mission to an asteroid. Reporters are invited to observe what the mission might entail.

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Planet Earth in your pocket ... and on your tablet »» Planet Earth in your pocket ... and on your tablet

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] ESA has updated its application for iPhone and iPad. With the launch of the ESA App V2, users can see ESA's latest satellite imagery from Envisat in near-real time, complementing the latest news and discoveries in space exploration and Earth observation.

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Antarctic Iceberg B-15J As Seen From Space »» Antarctic Iceberg B-15J As Seen From Space

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] As part of a natural cycle, ice shelves periodically calve icebergs. In March 2000, Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf released a mammoth berg nearly the size of Connecticut. Named B-15, it was one of the largest icebergs ever observed.

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Image: Dione, Pandora, and Prometheus As Seen by Cassini »» Image: Dione, Pandora, and Prometheus As Seen by Cassini

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] These raw, unprocessed images of Saturn's moon Dione were taken on Dec. 12, 2011, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Although Cassini obtained more detailed images on previous flybys of Dione, this was the spacecraft's closest pass of the moon's surface.

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A Galaxy Cluster Gets Sloshed »» A Galaxy Cluster Gets Sloshed

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] Vast clouds of hot gas are sloshing back and forth in Abell 2052, a galaxy cluster located about 480 million light-years from Earth. X-ray data (blue) from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

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Challenger Center Announces New Leadership Team »» Challenger Center Announces New Leadership Team

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] Dr. Scott Parazynski, chairman of Challenger Center, today announced a new leadership team for the non-profit organization with Dr. Lance Bush as President and Chief Executive Officer and Steven Kussmann as Chief Operating Officer.

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Sequestration Trigger Clouds Aerospace Picture »» Sequestration Trigger Clouds Aerospace Picture

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] Failure of the deficit reduction supercommittee and the specter of sequestration cuts cast a shadow on a relatively strong year for the aerospace industry.

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NASA Center Signs Commercial Agreement With Sierra Nevada »» NASA Center Signs Commercial Agreement With Sierra Nevada

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is entering into a space act agreement with Sierra Nevada Corp. Space Systems to provide key wind tunnel testing of a new spacecraft designed to transport crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station.

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Climate Change May Bring Big Ecosystem Changes »» Climate Change May Bring Big Ecosystem Changes

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011] By 2100, global climate change will modify plant communities covering almost half of Earth's land surface and will drive the conversion of nearly 40 percent of land-based ecosystems from one major ecological community type toward another.

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AIP FYI Number 146: Administration to Announce Decision on Mars Missions in February »» AIP FYI Number 146: Administration to Announce Decision on Mars Missions in February

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] Members of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics expressed frustration at a hearing about what they and a prominent planetary scientist charged was the Obama Administration's lack of commitment to two missions to Mars in 2016 and 2018.

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The beginning of the end for comet Lovejoy »» The beginning of the end for comet Lovejoy

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] The SOHO spaceborne solar observatory today captured comet Lovejoy in its field of view for the first time, indicating that the icy body is on its final destructive plunge towards the Sun.

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VLT Spots Cloud Being Disrupted by a Black Hole »» VLT Spots Cloud Being Disrupted by a Black Hole

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] A team of astronomers led by Reinhard Genzel at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, Germany, has discovered a unique new object fast approaching the black hole.

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NASA Mars-Bound Rover Begins Research in Space »» NASA Mars-Bound Rover Begins Research in Space

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] NASA's car-sized Curiosity rover has begun monitoring space radiation during its 8-month trip from Earth to Mars. The research will aid in planning for future human missions to the Red Planet.

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NASA to Discuss Plans for Commercial Crew Development »» NASA to Discuss Plans for Commercial Crew Development

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] NASA will host a media teleconference today, Thursday, Dec. 15, at 11:30 a.m. EST, to discuss a modified competitive procurement strategy for the Commercial Crew Program.

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NASA Takes Next Step in Developing Commercial Crew Program »» NASA Takes Next Step in Developing Commercial Crew Program

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] NASA announced today a modified competitive procurement strategy to keep on track the agency's plan to have U.S. companies transport American astronauts into space instead of outsourcing this work to foreign governments.

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GAO: NASA Acquisition Approach for Commercial Crew Transportation Includes Good Practices, but Faces Significant Challenges »» GAO: NASA Acquisition Approach for Commercial Crew Transportation Includes Good Practices, but Faces Significant Challenges

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] NASA's planned approach for acquiring U.S. commercial crew transportation faces significant challenges that could impact its success, although it includes some good acquisition practices.

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A Galaxy Blooming with New Stars »» A Galaxy Blooming with New Stars

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) has captured the beauty of the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 253. The new portrait is probably the most detailed wide-field view of this object and its surroundings ever taken.

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NASA Unaffected by Potential Government Shutdown »» NASA Unaffected by Potential Government Shutdown

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] NASA will not shut down because our fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill has been approved. Your work schedule and pay will generally continue as usual.

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 First low-mass star detected in globular cluster »» First low-mass star detected in globular cluster

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] Together with researchers from Poland and Chile, an astrophysicist from the University of Zurich has now detected a low-mass star in globular cluster M22 for the first time through microlensing.

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Hubble Serves Up a Holiday Snow Angel »» Hubble Serves Up a Holiday Snow Angel

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] NASA's Hubble Space Telescope presents a festive holiday greeting that's out of this world. The bipolar star-forming region, called Sharpless 2-106, looks like a soaring, celestial snow angel.

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GAO: International Space Station Approaches for Ensuring Utilization through 2020 »» GAO: International Space Station Approaches for Ensuring Utilization through 2020

[Thursday, December 15, 2011] The statistical process and methodology being used to determine the expected lifetimes of replacement units is a sound and commonly accepted approach.

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Human Space Exploration Global Exploration Roadmap Materials Online »» Human Space Exploration Global Exploration Roadmap Materials Online

[Friday, December 16, 2011] NASA conducted the Human Exploration Community Workshop on the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) in San Diego, CA from November 14-16, 2011.

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Conrad Foundation 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge Semi-Finalists Announced »» Conrad Foundation 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge Semi-Finalists Announced

[Friday, December 16, 2011] This year, student teams exceeded our expectations in regards to innovation and creativity when applying STEM principles to their product concepts.

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Meteorite Shock Waves Trigger Dust Avalanches on Mars »» Meteorite Shock Waves Trigger Dust Avalanches on Mars

[Friday, December 16, 2011] When a meteorite careens toward the dusty surface of the Red Planet, it kicks up dust and can cause avalanching even before the rock from outer space hits the ground, a research team led by an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona has discove

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Hubble images help pin down identity of August supernova's companion star »» Hubble images help pin down identity of August supernova's companion star

[Friday, December 16, 2011] In August, as amateurs and professionals alike turned their telescopes on the nearest Type Ia supernova discovered in decades, University of California, Berkeley, research astronomer Weidong Li focused instead on what could not be seen.

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Image: Dione and Titan »» Image: Dione and Titan

[Friday, December 16, 2011] This image was taken on December 07, 2011 and received on Earth December 09, 2011. The camera was pointing toward Dione at approximately 1,610,657 kilometers away.

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Fourth Status Report on Commercial Partners Progress Released »» Fourth Status Report on Commercial Partners Progress Released

[Friday, December 16, 2011] NASA released the fourth in a series of 60-day reports today showing that commercial spaceflight development programs are moving forward.

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Media Accreditation Now Open For NASA/SPACEX Launch »» Media Accreditation Now Open For NASA/SPACEX Launch

[Friday, December 16, 2011] Media accreditation for NASA's second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services demonstration flight is open.

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Photo: Indus River As Seen From Space »» Photo: Indus River As Seen From Space

[Friday, December 16, 2011] This Envisat image shows western India and southern Pakistan, with the Indus River snaking through Pakistan's Sindh province before emptying into the Arabian Sea.

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Vega to fly ESA experimental reentry vehicle »» Vega to fly ESA experimental reentry vehicle

[Friday, December 16, 2011] The launch of ESA's IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle on Europe's new Vega rocket is now in detailed planning, a major step towards the craft's flight in 2014.

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NASA Reaffirms Agency Scientific Integrity Policy »» NASA Reaffirms Agency Scientific Integrity Policy

[Friday, December 16, 2011] NASA has reaffirmed its commitment to science with the release of a new framework on scientific integrity.

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Message from the NASA Administrator - Year Ender »» Message from the NASA Administrator - Year Ender

[Saturday, December 17, 2011] Hello. I want to wish the entire NASA family a happy, safe and blessed holiday season. As we approach a new year, we have much for which to be proud and thankful in 2011.

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Antarctica on Google Maps »» Antarctica on Google Maps

[Saturday, December 17, 2011] Of course, the southern continent has always been on Google maps and its popular Google Earth application. The problem was that much of the imagery was about as sharp as the graphics in Pong, one of the earliest arcade video games.

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Video: Inside the ISS - Time Lapse »» Video: Inside the ISS - Time Lapse

[Sunday, December 18, 2011] In Episode 2 of "Inside the International Space Station," Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum speaks from space with astronaut Mike Massimino about Fossum's amazing time lapse photography.

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Physicist and Former Astronaut John Grunsfeld to Head NASA Science Directorate »» Physicist and Former Astronaut John Grunsfeld to Head NASA Science Directorate

[Monday, December 19, 2011] NASA has named physicist and former astronaut John Grunsfeld as the new associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. Grunsfeld will take the reins of the office effective Jan. 4, 2012.

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Final Report NASA's Infrastructure and Facilities - An Assessment of the Agency's Real Property Master Planning »» Final Report NASA's Infrastructure and Facilities - An Assessment of the Agency's Real Property Master Planning

[Monday, December 19, 2011] NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin today released an audit examining NASA's real property master planning efforts.

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NASA Solicitation: Status on Commercial Crew Program »» NASA Solicitation: Status on Commercial Crew Program

[Monday, December 19, 2011] The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will present an updated status of the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) strategy on Tuesday, December 20, 2011.

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NASA's Kepler Announcing Newly Confirmed Planets »» NASA's Kepler Announcing Newly Confirmed Planets

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] NASA will host a news teleconference at 1 p.m. EST, Tuesday, Dec. 20, announcing new discoveries by the Kepler mission.

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The Virtual Observatory and its Benefits for Amateur Astronomers »» The Virtual Observatory and its Benefits for Amateur Astronomers

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] The contemporary astronomical instruments have been producing the unprecedented amount of data. The largest part of this "data avalanche" is being produced by deep all-sky surveys yielding terabytes of raw data per night.

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The Energy Spectrum of a Radio Pulse Created by a Cascade Disk Within the Moon's Regolith »» The Energy Spectrum of a Radio Pulse Created by a Cascade Disk Within the Moon's Regolith

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] Some known analytical solutions for a cascade shower were used for determining the intensity of excess electrons' radio-emission. It is shown that the energy spectrum has a sharp decline in the region of high frequencies.

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Evidence for Complex Molecules on Pluto's Surface »» Evidence for Complex Molecules on Pluto's Surface

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph aboard Hubble has discovered a strong ultraviolet-wavelength absorber on Pluto's surface, providing new evidence that points to the possibility of complex hydrocarbon and/or nitrile molecules lying on the surface

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NASA Selects 85 Small Business Research And Technology Projects For Continued Development »» NASA Selects 85 Small Business Research And Technology Projects For Continued Development

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] NASA has selected 85 small business proposals to enter into negotiations for Phase II contract awards through the agency's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.

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Station Crew Set To Launch To A New Home For The Holidays »» Station Crew Set To Launch To A New Home For The Holidays

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] Just in time for the holidays, the residents of the International Space Station will welcome three new crew members.

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Celestial Bauble Intrigues Astronomers »» Celestial Bauble Intrigues Astronomers

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton have been combined to discover a young pulsar in the remains of a supernova located in the Small Magellanic Cloud, or SMC.

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SOFIA Peers Into the Heart of the Orion Nebula »» SOFIA Peers Into the Heart of the Orion Nebula

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] A new image from NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) shows a complex distribution of interstellar dust and stars in the Orion nebula.

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NASA Discovers First Earth-size Planets Beyond Our Solar System »» NASA Discovers First Earth-size Planets Beyond Our Solar System

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] The planets, called Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are too close to their star to be in the so-called habitable zone where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface, but they are the smallest exoplanets ever confirmed around a star like our sun.

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NASA, Industry Leaders Discuss New Booster Development for Space Launch System »» NASA, Industry Leaders Discuss New Booster Development for Space Launch System

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] On Dec. 15, more than 120 aerospace industry leaders from more than 70 companies attended the Space Launch System's Advanced Booster Industry Day held at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

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Photo: Enceladus and Epimetheus Dwarfed by The Immensity of Saturn's Rings »» Photo: Enceladus and Epimetheus Dwarfed by The Immensity of Saturn's Rings

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] A pair of Saturn's moons appear insignificant compared to the immensity of the planet in this Cassini spacecraft view along the terminator where day transitions to night.

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Bizarre Case of Meteors with Two Identities »» Bizarre Case of Meteors with Two Identities

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011] Astronomers have discovered why we see meteors flash through the night sky while they seemingly rain down on us gently at the same time.

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Take a Virtual Sleigh Ride Over the Real Landscapes of Mars »» Take a Virtual Sleigh Ride Over the Real Landscapes of Mars

[Wednesday, December 21, 2011] NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab put together this great video of real landscapes on Mars with imagery from the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter accompanied by some holiday music.

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Trio Heads For Holiday Reunion With Space Station Residents »» Trio Heads For Holiday Reunion With Space Station Residents

[Wednesday, December 21, 2011] Don Pettit, Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kuipers launched to the International Space Station aboard their Soyuz TMA-03M craft at 7:16 a.m. CST Wednesday, Dec. 21 (7:16 p.m. local time), from Kazakhstan.

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NASA Conducts Orion Parachute Testing For Orbital Test Flight »» NASA Conducts Orion Parachute Testing For Orbital Test Flight

[Wednesday, December 21, 2011] NASA successfully conducted a drop test of the Orion crew vehicle's parachutes high above the Arizona desert Tuesday in preparation for its orbital flight test in 2014.

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NASA Selects Student Teams For Microgravity Research Flights »» NASA Selects Student Teams For Microgravity Research Flights

[Wednesday, December 21, 2011] NASA has selected 24 undergraduate student teams to test science experiments under microgravity conditions. The teams will fly during 2012 as part of the agency's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program (RGEFP).

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Discovery of two Earth-size planets raises questions about the evolution of stars »» Discovery of two Earth-size planets raises questions about the evolution of stars

[Wednesday, December 21, 2011] University of Toulouse and University of Montreal researchers have detected two planets of sizes comparable to Earth orbiting around an old star that has just passed the red giant stage.

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Dawn Obtains First Low Altitude Images of Vesta »» Dawn Obtains First Low Altitude Images of Vesta

[Wednesday, December 21, 2011] NASA's Dawn spacecraft has sent back the first images of the giant asteroid Vesta from its low-altitude mapping orbit.

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Cryogenic Testing Completed For NASA's Webb Telescope Mirrors »» Cryogenic Testing Completed For NASA's Webb Telescope Mirrors

[Wednesday, December 21, 2011] Cryogenic testing is complete for the final six primary mirror segments and a secondary mirror that will fly on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

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Discovery of A Vigorous Star-Forming Galaxy at Cosmic Dawn »» Discovery of A Vigorous Star-Forming Galaxy at Cosmic Dawn

[Wednesday, December 21, 2011] An international team of astronomers led by Masami Ouchi at the University of Tokyo has discovered a vigorous, star-forming galaxy that existed about 750 million years after the Big Bang.

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First ever direct measurement of the Earth's rotation »» First ever direct measurement of the Earth's rotation

[Thursday, December 22, 2011] Pinpointing the orientation of the Earth's axis using the world's most stable ring laser.

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Europe's first Galileo satellite appears in blooming health, transmitting test signals received by ESA's ground station in Redu, Belgium across the whole of its assigned radio spectrum. »» Europe's first Galileo satellite appears in blooming health, transmitting test signals received by ESA's ground station in Redu, Belgium across the whole of its assigned radio spectrum.

[Thursday, December 22, 2011] Europe's first Galileo satellite appears in blooming health, transmitting test signals received by ESA's ground station in Redu, Belgium across the whole of its assigned radio spectrum.

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Photo: Station Commander Captures Unprecedented View of Comet »» Photo: Station Commander Captures Unprecedented View of Comet

[Thursday, December 22, 2011] International Space Station Commander Dan Burbank captured spectacular imagery of Comet Lovejoy from about 240 miles above the Earth's horizon on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

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CryoSat ice satellite rides new waves »» CryoSat ice satellite rides new waves

[Thursday, December 22, 2011] ESA's CryoSat mission has been gathering detailed information on the thickness of Earth's ice since its launch in 2010. Through international collaboration, this state-of-the-art mission is soon to be used to monitor conditions at sea for marine forecasti

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NASA to Host Media Telecon on Probes' Moon Orbit Insertion »» NASA to Host Media Telecon on Probes' Moon Orbit Insertion

[Friday, December 23, 2011] NASA will hold a media teleconference at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) on Wednesday, Dec. 28, to preview twin spacecraft being placed in orbit around the moon on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

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Happy Holidays From Antarctica »» Happy Holidays From Antarctica

[Sunday, December 25, 2011] Astrobiologist Dale Andersen from the SETI Institute is currently on his way back to the U.S. via a stop over in Capetown, South Africa.

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Christmas Comet Lovejoy Captured at Paranal »» Christmas Comet Lovejoy Captured at Paranal

[Tuesday, December 27, 2011] The recently discovered Comet Lovejoy has been captured in stunning photos and time-lapse video taken from ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile. The comet graced the southern sky after it had unexpectedly survived a close encounter with the Sun.

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Image: Peering Through Titan's South Pole Haze »» Image: Peering Through Titan's South Pole Haze

[Tuesday, December 27, 2011] These views from NASA's Cassini spacecraft look toward the south polar region of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, and show a depression within the moon's orange and blue haze layers near the south pole.

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NASA Twin Spacecraft on Final Approach for Moon Orbit »» NASA Twin Spacecraft on Final Approach for Moon Orbit

[Wednesday, December 28, 2011] NASA's twin spacecraft to study the moon from crust to core are nearing their New Year's Eve and New Year's Day main-engine burns to place the duo in lunar orbit.

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Europe's navigation pioneer GIOVE-A celebrates sixth birthday in space »» Europe's navigation pioneer GIOVE-A celebrates sixth birthday in space

[Wednesday, December 28, 2011] GIOVE-A, ESA's prototype navigation satellite, remains operational after six years in space. Its flight paved the way for Europe's Galileo satellites, the first two of which joined GIOVE-A in medium-Earth orbit on 21 October this year.

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Lockheed Martin Wins Contract Worth up to $2 Billion to Support the U.S. Antarctic Program »» Lockheed Martin Wins Contract Worth up to $2 Billion to Support the U.S. Antarctic Program

[Wednesday, December 28, 2011] The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a multi-year contract to Lockheed Martin for logistical support for the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP).

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Another year of Arianespace launch accomplishments is completed with a Soyuz mission for Globalstar »» Another year of Arianespace launch accomplishments is completed with a Soyuz mission for Globalstar

[Wednesday, December 28, 2011] Today's mission, performed from Baikonur Cosmodrome by the Starsem affiliate of Arianespace, carried the latest cluster of second-generation satellites for Globalstar and utilized the medium-lift Soyuz.

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China Releases White Paper - China's Space Activities in 2011 »» China Releases White Paper - China's Space Activities in 2011

[Thursday, December 29, 2011] China's Information Office of the State Council today published a white paper on China's space activities in 2011.

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Mars Rover Opportunity Wheel Passes Checkup After Stalled Drive (with photos) »» Mars Rover Opportunity Wheel Passes Checkup After Stalled Drive (with photos)

[Thursday, December 29, 2011] This period began with a campaign of using the Microscopic Imager (MI) and Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) to examine a target called "Komati" on the "Saddleback" outcrop.

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Photo: Titan and Dione As Seen by Cassini »» Photo: Titan and Dione As Seen by Cassini

[Thursday, December 29, 2011] Saturn's third-largest moon Dione can be seen through the haze of its largest moon, Titan, in this view of the two posing before the planet and its rings from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

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South Pole Anniversary »» South Pole Anniversary

[Friday, December 30, 2011] A celebration of past achievements and future promises received a warm reception in a very cold as the National Science Foundation hosted Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

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NASA OIG: NASA's Real Property Master Planning Efforts »» NASA OIG: NASA's Real Property Master Planning Efforts

[Friday, December 30, 2011] "We found deficiencies within the individual Center master plans the Agency is using to develop the integrated Agency plan that may limit the Plan's usefulness for making strategic real property decisions."

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Powerful Pixels: Mapping the Apollo Zone on the Moon »» Powerful Pixels: Mapping the Apollo Zone on the Moon

[Friday, December 30, 2011] Grayscale pixels - up close, they look like black, white or grey squares. But when you zoom out to see the bigger picture, they can create a digital photograph, like this one of our moon.

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Fragile Oasis: Astronaut Dan Burbank: A Beacon For The Holidays »» Fragile Oasis: Astronaut Dan Burbank: A Beacon For The Holidays

[Friday, December 30, 2011] Welcoming our new crewmates, Oleg Kononenko, Andre Kuipers and Don Pettit aboard the International Space Station on Friday was wonderful, made all the more so as it came just before Christmas.

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Fastest Rotating Star Found in Neighboring Galaxy »» Fastest Rotating Star Found in Neighboring Galaxy

[Friday, December 30, 2011] This artist's concept pictures the fastest rotating star found to date. The massive, bright young star, called VFTS 102, rotates at a million miles per hour, or 100 times faster than our sun does.

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Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity 30 December 2011 »» Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity 30 December 2011

[Friday, December 30, 2011] Two M-class flares were observed from Region 1389 (S22E44), an M2/Sf at 29/2151Z and a M1/Sn at 30/0309Z. The region ended the period as an Ekc type group with beta magnetic characteristics.

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