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Space

Cassini glimpses the dark eye of Saturn's south polar storm

The Cassini spacecraft has captured a stunningly detailed view of the "dark eye" of Saturn's vast south polar vortex, a feature so large that it could comfortably swallow planet Earth. The vista is a composite shot comprised of two separate images captured in July 2008 from a distance of roughly 392,000 km (243,578 miles) from the gas giant.Read More

Dwarf planet lurking beyond Neptune's orbit is far larger than expected

According to a team of astronomers making use of data from two powerful orbital telescopes, a dwarf planet known as 2007 OR10 orbiting in the far reaches of our solar system is significantly larger than previously believed. The results of the study makes the little-known planetoid the third largest dwarf planet behind Pluto and Eris.Read More

Oldest micrometeorites ever found hold clues to Earth's ancient atmosphere

About 2.4 billion years ago on Earth, something known as the Great Oxygenation Event occurred when Earth's lower atmosphere began to become rich in O2 as oxygen sinks such as dissolved iron and organic material became saturated and couldn't hold any more. Before that, the air near the surface of our planet contained less than 0.001 percent of today's oxygen level. While we've known this for a while, scientists were never quite sure what the Earth's upper atmosphere looked like at the time. Now, by examining fossilized cosmic dust, a team of researchers has sorted it out.Read More

SpaceX's Dragon returns to Earth brimming with microgravity research samples

April 8, 2016 was an important day for space exploration. Not only did SpaceX finally manage to land a Falcon 9 rocket on a barge ship in the ocean, it also welcomed back into service its Dragon spacecraft after a previous flight had ended in a ball of fire. Today, the Dragon completed its round trip to the International Space Station, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean with more than a tonne of valuable scientific samples in tow.Read More

2,325 and counting: Kepler doubles its haul in largest exoplanet discovery ever

Since it launched six years years ago, NASA's Kepler space telescope has provided a guiding light in our search for extraterrestrial life, scanning the sky for potentially habitable Earth-size planets. Today the agency has announced the discovery of almost 1,300 new exoplanets, doubling the craft's previous tally and giving the chances of finding another world just like ours a healthy little boost.Read More

How Earth's magnetic field is changing

The European Space Agency (ESA) launched its trio of Earth-facing satellites – the Swarm satellites – more than two years ago. Since then, the three probes have been tirelessly making measurements of the Earth's magnetic field, mapping it out in detail. Now, that data has been used in a new study of how the magnetic field has changed over recent years, with the results echoing what's happening at the planet's core. Read More

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