ESA Spacecraft May Help Unravel Cosmic Mystery

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Cassini-Huygens swings by Earth and accelerates towards Saturn.

When Europe’s comet chaser Rosetta swings by Earth on Nov. 13 for a critical gravity assist, tracking data will be collected to precisely measure the satellite’s change in orbital energy. The results could help unravel a cosmic mystery that has stumped scientists for two decades.

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Are Earth’s Oceans Made Of Extraterrestrial Material?

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Pacific ocean. Did water come from ice-covered asteroids that may have reached the Earth around one hundred million years after the birth of the planets?

Contrary to preconceived notions, the atmosphere and the oceans were perhaps not formed from vapors emitted during intense volcanism at the dawning of our planet. Francis Albarède of the Laboratoire des Sciences de la Terre (CNRS / ENS Lyon / Université Claude Bernard) suggests that water was not part of the Earth’s initial inventory but stems from the turbulence caused in the outer Solar System by giant planets. Ice-covered asteroids thus reached the Earth around one hundred million years after the birth of the planets.

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Unsettled Youth: Spitzer Observes A Chaotic Planetary System

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this infrared image of a giant halo of very fine dust around the young star HR 8799.

Before our planets found their way to the stable orbits they circle in today, they wiggled and jostled about like unsettled children. Now, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has found a young star with evidence for the same kind of orbital hyperactivity. Young planets circling the star are thought to be disturbing smaller comet-like bodies, causing them to collide and kick up a huge halo of dust.

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Rare Meteorite Found Using New Camera Network In Australian Desert

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This is Bunburra Rockhole, the meteorite, at the discovery site.

Researchers have discovered an unusual kind of meteorite in the Western Australian desert and have uncovered where in the Solar System it came from, in a very rare finding published in the journal Science. Continue reading… “Rare Meteorite Found Using New Camera Network In Australian Desert”

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Space Shuttle Science Shows How 1908 Tunguska Explosion Was Caused By A Comet

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A comet is thought to have caused Tunguska explosion

The mysterious 1908 Tunguska explosion that leveled 830 square miles of Siberian forest was almost certainly caused by a comet entering the Earth’s atmosphere, says new Cornell University research. The conclusion is supported by an unlikely source: the exhaust plume from the NASA space shuttle launched a century later.

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New Tidal Debris Discovered From Colliding Galaxies

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Deep optical image of the Antennae galaxies

Astronomers have discovered new tidal debris stripped away from colliding galaxies. New debris images are of special interest since they show the full history of galaxy collisions and resultant starburst activities, which are important in ‘growing’ galaxies in the early Universe.

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Extension For Earth Also Doubles Odds Of Finding Life On Other Planets

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Roughly a billion years from now, the ever-increasing radiation from the sun will have heated Earth into inhabitability

Roughly a billion years from now, the ever-increasing radiation from the sun will have heated Earth into inhabitability; the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that serves as food for plant life will disappear, pulled out by the weathering of rocks; the oceans will evaporate; and all living things will disappear.

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