Formation of Bulge on Far Side of Moon Explained

Who knew the moon looked like a whole bunch of melted skittles rolled into one!

A bulge of elevated topography on the far side of the moon — known as the lunar far side highlands — has defied explanation for decades. But a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows that the highlands may be the result of tidal forces acting early in the moon’s history when its solid outer crust floated on an ocean of liquid rock.

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Fog Discovered on Saturn’s Largest Moon, Titan

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Fingers of fog can be seen moving across the south pole of Titan in this image constructed by Mike Brown and his colleagues using data from the Cassini spacecraft.

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, looks to be the only place in the solar system — aside from our home planet, Earth — with copious quantities of liquid (largely, liquid methane and ethane) sitting on its surface. According to planetary astronomer Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Earth and Titan share yet another feature, which is inextricably linked with that surface liquid: common fog.

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First Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Sun-Like Stars

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This image from a simulation of atmospheric flow shows temperature patterns on one of the newly discovered planets (61Virb), which is hot enough that it glows with its own thermal emission.

An international team of planet hunters has discovered as many as six low-mass planets around two nearby Sun-like stars, including two “super-Earths” with masses 5 and 7.5 times the mass of Earth. The researchers, led by Steven Vogt of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, said the two “super-Earths” are the first ones found around Sun-like stars.

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New Transient Radiation Belt Discovered Around Saturn

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Radiation belt map of the ions with energies between 25-60 MeV, in Saturn’s magnetosphere, based on several years of Cassini MIMI/LEMMS data.

Scientists using the Cassini spacecraft’s Magnetospheric Imaging instrument (MIMI) have detected a new, temporary radiation belt at Saturn, located around the orbit of its moon Dione at about 377,000 km from the center of the planet. Continue reading… “New Transient Radiation Belt Discovered Around Saturn”

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Coolest Spacecraft Ever In Orbit Around L2 (-273 Degrees Celsius)

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This artist’s impression shows the focal plane unit of the Planck telescope.

On July 2 the detectors of Planck’s High Frequency Instrument reached their amazingly low operational temperature of -273°C, making them the coldest known objects in space. The spacecraft has also just entered its final orbit around the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system, L2. Planck is equipped with a passive cooling system that brings its temperature down to about -230°C by radiating heat into space. Three active coolers take over from there, and bring the temperature down further to an amazing low of -273.05°C, only 0.1°C above absolute zero – the coldest temperature theoretically possible in our 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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