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December 5 2014

Moon's magnetic heart still a mystery


Billions of years ago the Moon had a magnetic field much stronger than the Earth does now, according to a new review of scientific data.

Today, the Moon has no global magnetic field.

"We know the Moon had a powerful magnetic field between 4.25 and 3.56 billion years ago, which was much stronger than the Earth's magnetic field today," says Weiss.

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December 5 2014

Asteroids could wipe out humanity, warn Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox


Asteroids could wipe out humanity unless more effort is made to track and destroy them, a leading body of scientists and astronauts has warned.

Lord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, Brian Cox, and Richard Dawkins are among more than 100 experts calling for the creation of a huge asteroid detection system to prevent a doomsday scenario.

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December 5 2014

Astronomers solve mystery of the universe’s missing stars


There are not enough stars in the universe and now astronomers think they know why.

Using the Hubble space telescope, they have discovered a distant galaxy in which star formation is itself driving the raw materials for more stars out into space at two million miles per hour – and in the process slowing future star production.

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December 5 2014

'Clean' Sun-Like Stars a Boon for Alien Planet Hunters


Dust gets everywhere, particularly around young stars. But when it comes to the presence of dust in their interplanetary environments, many mature sun-like stars appear to be very house-proud, providing astronomers with better conditions to seek out and directly image extrasolar planets, or exoplanets.

“Dust is a double-edged sword when it comes to imaging distant planets,” said Bertrand Mennesson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “The presence of dust is a signpost for planets, but too much dust can block our view.”.

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December 5 2014

Volcanic Eruptions on Mars Could Have Caused Water to Flow


Volcanic eruptions on Mars could have warmed that world, potentially helping solve the mystery of how water could have flowed across the surface of the Red Planet long ago, researchers say.

Although the surface of Mars is now cold and dry, there is ample evidence suggesting that rivers and lakes covered the Red Planet billions of years ago. However, the latest generation of climate models for early Mars suggests its atmosphere was too thin to keep the planet warm enough for water to flow. Moreover, the sun was much dimmer billions of years ago than it is now, suggesting Mars would have had less sunlight to heat it.

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December 5 2014

Why Elon Musk's space agency is hiring a farmer


A high school diploma and 10 years of row crop farming experience in the central Texas area could land you a job with SpaceX.

That's right, Elon Musk's cutting-edge spaceflight company, which intends to "pave the way to Mars," is looking to hire a farmer.

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December 5 2014

China Has Big Plans to Explore the Moon and Mars


China continues to ramp up its space activities, which include a new launch complex, more powerful boosters and the construction of a large space station, as well as plans for complex robotic missions to the moon and Mars.

For example, China's "little fly" spacecraft looped around the moon and returned to Earth Nov. 1 (Beijing time) after eight days of flight, parachuting safely down in northern China's Inner Mongolia.


Related: Africa’s First Mission to the Moon Announced

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December 5 2014

Japan Launches Asteroid-chasing Probe to Bring Space Rock Samples to Earth


A Japanese spacecraft has launched on an ambitious mission to blast a hole in an asteroid and return samples of the space rock back to Earth.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Hayabusa2 asteroid mission blasted off Tuesday (Dec. 2) at 11:22 p.m. EST (0422 GMT Dec. 3) from the country's Tanegashima Space Center, where the local time at liftoff was 1:22 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3. If all goes well, the spacecraft should return samples of the asteroid 1999 JU3 to Earth in late 2020, JAXA officials said.


Related: Orion: highly anticipated Nasa launch postponed after multiple attempts

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December 4 2014

Traces of possible Martian biological activity inside a meteorite


Did Mars ever have life? Does it still? A meteorite from Mars has reignited the old debate. An international team that includes scientists from EPFL has published a paper in the scientific journal Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences, showing that martian life is more probable than previously thought.


Alt: Meteorite May Contain Proof of Life on Mars, Researchers Say

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December 4 2014

NASA's Journey to Mars


NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s – goals outlined in the bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2010 and in the U.S. National Space Policy, also issued in 2010.

Mars is a rich destination for scientific discovery and robotic and human exploration as we expand our presence into the solar system.


Alt: NASA Is Launching a Spacecraft That Will Take Humans to Mars

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December 4 2014

Europa Life: Could ‘Extreme Shrimp’ Point To Microbes On That Moon?


For all of the talk about aliens that we see in science fiction, the reality is in our Solar System, any extraterrestrial life is likely to be microbial. The lucky thing for us is there are an abundance of places that we can search for them — not least Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter believed to harbor a global ocean and that NASA wants to visit fairly soon. What lurks in those waters?.

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December 4 2014

Ravens Have Social Abilities Previously Only Seen In Humans


Humans and their primate cousins are well known for their intelligence and social abilities. You hear them called bird-brained, but birds have demonstrated a great deal of intelligence in many tasks.

However, little is known about their social skills. A new study shows that ravens are socially savvier than we give them credit for. They are able to work out the social dynamics of other raven groups, something which only humans had shown the ability to do.

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December 4 2014

Even Great Tits Pass on Traditions


Where you’re from can dictate a lot about how you do things. In the United States, you drive on the right side of the road, in England — the left. Your home state may have its own traditions about what kind of foods you eat (seafood in Maine or cheese steak in Philly, for example).

It turns out humans aren’t the only ones with local traditions. New research on the humble little bird the great tit shows that even these birds conform to local traditions. In this case, researchers were able to test the small birds’ technique when opening a puzzle box containing a tasty mealworm.


Alt: Birds conform to local 'traditions'

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December 4 2014

Why House Cats Generally Don't Care (About You)


House cats often appear aloof and indifferent toward their human companions. But it's not just an act — they actually don't care. A recent study of the domestic cat genome reveals why.

Scientists from the Genome Institute at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis sequenced the first house cat reference genome, and discovered that house cats may not be that genetically different from wild cats. This may explain why house cats seem to ignore their human companions and instead behave like they have their own agenda. Maybe they're acting like wild cats.

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December 4 2014

Why a ravening wolf is a sheep’s best friend


Culling wolves doesn’t save the lives of the sheep and cattle they feed on, according to new research which found that the more wolves that are killed the greater the risk to local livestock of being eaten.

Washington State University researchers discovered that it is counterproductive to shoot and trap wolves because losses in their numbers change the animals’ social behaviour, and encourages them to eat more sheep and cattle.

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December 4 2014

Ants Are Cleaning Up the Streets of NYC


In the words of the great ecologist E. O. Wilson, ants are among the “little things that run the world.” It turns out they even help clean the streets of New York City.

Over a period of six days, a team from North Carolina State University dropped hot dogs, cookies and potato chips around a 150-block section of New York City to study how much food-waste scavengers could eat in 24 hours.


Alt: City ants are garbage eating, rat-fighting machines

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December 4 2014

Why Men Love Lingerie: Rat Study Offers Hints


Just as lingerie turns on human males, tiny jackets do the same for male rats, a new study finds.

In an unusual study, researchers allowed virgin male rats to have sex with females wearing special rodent "jackets." Later, when scientists gave the males a chance to mate again, the animals preferred to mate with jacket-wearing female rats rather than with unclad ones.

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