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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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+ - Ceres' Mystery Bright Dots May Have Volcanic Origin->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "As NASA’s Dawn mission slowly spirals in on its dwarf planet target, Ceres’ alien landscape is becoming sharper by the day. And, at a distance of only 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers), the robotic spacecraft has revealed multiple bright patches on the surface, but one of the brightest spots has revealed a dimmer bright patch right next door. “Ceres’ bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin,” said Chris Russell, of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and principal investigator for the Dawn mission. “This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations.”"
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+ - Star Quadruplets Spied Growing Inside Stellar Womb->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "New observations of a star-forming nebula have revealed four stellar embryos, providing clues as to how multiple star systems evolve. The majority of stars in our galaxy come in pairs, triplets or even quadruplets, but our sun appears to be a loner. This fact poses an interesting question: if our star is alone, and yet contains a rich multiplanetary system, how do planetary systems evolve in multi-star systems? In a new study published in the journal Nature this week, Alyssa Goodman, professor of astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), reports on the discovery of four embryonic stars slowly forming 825 light-years from Earth. Previously known to contain one protostar, the molecular cloud located in the constellation Perseus apparently contains more stellar siblings."
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+ - Supermassive Diet: Black Holes Bulk-Up on Dark Matter->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "It has long been assumed that the size of a supermassive black hole in a galaxy’s core is intimately related to the number of stars that galaxy contains — but it might not be that simple after all. According to new research, it may in fact be a galaxy's extensive dark matter halo that controls the evolution of the central supermassive black hole and not the total number of stars that galaxy contains. “There seems to be a mysterious link between the amount of dark matter a galaxy holds and the size of its central black hole, even though the two operate on vastly different scales,” said lead author Akos Bogdan of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), Cambridge, Mass."
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+ - Oldest Twin Remains Found in Siberia->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "A team of Canadian and Russian researchers investigating an early Neolithic cemetery in Siberia have identified the world’s oldest set of human twins, buried with their young mother. The skeleton of the woman was exhumed in 1997 from a hunter-gatherer cemetery in south-eastern Siberia. Found with 15 marmot teeth — decorative accessories which were probably attached to clothing — the remains were photographed and labelled, but were not investigated by anthropologists. Now Angela Lieverse, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, and colleagues Andrzej Weber from the University of Alberta, Canada, and Vladimir Bazaliiskii from Irkutsk University, Russia, have examined the skeleton and found remains of twin fetuses nestled between the pelvis and upper legs. The twins, about 36 to 40 weeks old, probably suffocated during their mother’s troubled labor nearly 8,000 years ago. “This is not only one of the oldest archaeologically documented cases of death during childbirth, but also the earliest confirmed set of human twins in the world,” Lieverse said."
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+ - Comets Form Like Deep Fried Ice Cream Scoops->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif., have added another oddity to the cometary ‘weird list’: comets are best described as scoops of deep fried ice cream. “The crust is made of crystalline ice, while the interior is colder and more porous,” said Murthy Gudipati of JPL, co-author of a recent study appearing in The Journal of Physical Chemistry. “The organics are like a final layer of chocolate on top.”"
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+ - West to East Coast: SpaceX Ready for Extreme Multitasking->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "Breaking new ground is nothing new for SpaceX, but how about launch and landing operations on opposite sides of the country at the same time? A poor weather forecast in Florida prompted SpaceX to pass on a second launch opportunity Monday to put the Deep Space Climate Observatory into orbit. The first launch attempt on Sunday was called off with two minutes to spare because of a glitch with a ground-based radar system needed to track the Falcon 9 rocket in flight. The launch of the spacecraft, nicknamed DSCOVR, is now pegged for 6:05 p.m. EST Tuesday, which overlaps with the return flight of a Dragon cargo ship from the International Space Station."
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+ - Craters Pop as NASA's Dawn Probe Approaches Ceres->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "New features on Ceres’ icy surface are popping into view as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft slowly spirals in on its final celestial target in the asteroid belt. Due to arrive in a stable Ceres orbit in March, the ion drive-propelled spacecraft is now less than 90,000 miles (145,000 kilometers) from its ultimate goal. Once arrived at Ceres, NASA will insert the probe into a highly stable orbit where, when the mission concludes in a year from now, Dawn will become a permanent man-made moon of the dwarf planet."
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+ - Kepler Discovers Solar System's Ancient 'Twin'->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "Astronomers have found a star system that bears striking resemblance to our inner solar system. It’s a sun-like star that plays host to a system of five small exoplanets — from the size of Mercury to the size of Venus. But there’s something very alien about this compact ‘solar system’; it formed when the universe was only 20 percent the age it is now, making making it the most ancient star system playing host to terrestrial sized worlds discovered to date."
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+ - SpaceX Releases Dramatic Video of Crashing Rocket->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "Last week, SpaceX attempted the unprecedented return the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket after a successful launch of the Dragon cargo vehicle to the International Space Station. The rocket landing attempt was not successful, however; it hit the company’s unmanned landing platform in the Atlantic Ocean and exploded. But the fact that it made contact with the small platform at all suggests that Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company is on the right track."
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+ - Virgin Galactic Test Flights to Restart This Year->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "Test flights of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo are on schedule to begin again this year – this time with its own pilots, the chief executive of Richard Branson’s space startup said Friday. The first in a series of planned passenger spaceships was destroyed on Oct. 31, 2014, during a fatal test flight being conducted by manufacturer Scaled Composites. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident, determined that co-pilot Michael Alsbury, who died in the crash, released the ship’s moveable tail section early. The vehicle was not traveling fast enough for aerodynamic forces to keep the so-called “feather” pinned in place, as designs called for. As a result, the ship was torn apart, jettisoning pilot Pete Siebold in the process, who managed to parachute to safety."
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+ - Hubble's Stunning New View of the 'Pillars of Creation'->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "20 years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope showed the world what has become one of the most famous images of our time. Staring deep into the Eagle Nebula, Hubble demonstrated its sheer imaging power, picking out the vast pillars of gas and dust in a star-making factory. Deep within their dusty cocoons, baby stars are being born, a factor that spawned the apt moniker “Pillars of Creation.” Now, to celebrate 25 years in space, Hubble has released a new version of the same nebula, only this time it's in high-definition. And it's spectacular."
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+ - Mars Rover Opportunity Suffers Worrying Bouts of 'Amnesia'->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has been exploring the Martian surface for over a decade — that’s an amazing ten years longer than the 3-month primary mission it began in January 2004. But with its great successes, inevitable age-related issues have surfaced and mission engineers are being challenged by an increasingly troubling bout of “amnesia” triggered by the rover's flash memory. “The problems started off fairly benign, but now they’ve become more serious — much like an illness, the symptoms were mild, but now with the progression of time things have become more serious,” Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told Discovery News."
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+ - Kepler Makes First Exoplanet Discovery After Mission Reboot->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "NASA’s Kepler space telescope has detected its first new extrasolar planet after mission engineers were able to save the mission from a premature death after two of the exoplanet hunter’s four stabilizing reaction wheels failed last year. Called “K2, the extended mission arose from an “innovative idea” that appears to have given the prolific telescope a new lease on life. “Last summer, the possibility of a scientifically productive mission for Kepler after its reaction wheel failure in its extended mission was not part of the conversation,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director at the agency’s headquarters in Washington D.C. “Today, thanks to an innovative idea and lots of hard work by the NASA and Ball Aerospace team, Kepler may well deliver the first candidates for follow-up study by the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of distant worlds and search for signatures of life.”"
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+ - Wait, There's More: Curiosity Confirms Organics on Mars->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "NASA’s rover Curiosity has found organic compounds on Mars, the first definitive proof of materials, which on Earth are building blocks for life, also exist on the Red Planet. “We have had a major discovery. We have found organics on Mars,” Curiosity lead scientist John Grotzinger, with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., said during a webcast press conference at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco. Whether the organics were delivered by carbon-rich meteorites or formed on Mars has yet to be determined. The discovery, paired with a sister investigation that found occasional spikes of methane gas in the Martian atmosphere, is a turning point for the mission, which began 2.5 years ago inside a 96-mile wide impact basin named Gale Crater. On Earth, more than 90 percent of the atmospheric methane is produced by biological processes. The rest is tied to geochemical processes."
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