Cosmic Rays Constantly Pummel Our Moon

According to scientists cosmic rays from beyond our solar system constantly pummel Earth’s moon, fundamentally changing the chemistry and color of the lunar ice and dirt. New measurements of the strength of this space radiation from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show that these cosmic rays can cause significant chemical alteration on the surface of the moon. The measurements also help scientists test theoretical models of the moon’s radiation environment.

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Jupiter’s New Video Reveals Invisible Jet Stream Waves

New video of Jupiter are the first to catch an invisible wave shaking up Jupiter’s jet streams, an interaction that also takes place in Earth’s atmosphere and influences the weather. The video, made from images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft when it flew by Jupiter in 2000, are part of an in-depth study conducted by a team of scientists and amateur astronomers led by Amy Simon-Miller at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md..

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Felix Baumgartner Makes Successful Jump

Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner aiming to set the record for world’s highest skydive moved one step closer to his goal (March 15), completing a practice jump from more than 13 miles up in the stratosphere. He stepped out of a custom-built capsule at an altitude of 71,581 feet (21,818 meters), officials with Red Bull Stratos (name of Baumgartner’s ambitious mission). He plummeted to Earth in a freefall that lasted three minutes and 43 seconds, reaching a top speed of 364 mph (586 kph).

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Solar Flares

One of the Biggest Flare of the Solar Cycle

With the help of data from the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) and the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) NASA models have now provided more information about the two CMEs associated with the two March 6 flares. The first is traveling faster than 1300 miles per second, the second more than 1100 miles per second. NASA’s models predict that the CMEs will impact both Earth and Mars, as well as pass by several NASA spacecraft, Messenger, Spitzer, and STEREO-B. The models also predict that the leading edge of the first CME will reach Earth at about 1:25 AM EST on the morning of March 8 (plus or minus 7 hours).

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Huge Space Rock May Have Collided With Earth 13000 Years Ago

New evidence supports the idea that a huge space rock collided with our planet about 13,000 years ago and broke up in Earth’s atmosphere. This impact would have been powerful enough to melt the ground, and could have killed off many large mammals and humans. According to researchers it may even have set off a period of unusual cold called the Younger Dryas that began at that time. The idea that Earth experienced an asteroid or comet impact at the start of the Younger Dryas has been controversial, in part because there is no smoking-gun impact crater left behind as with other known events in our planet’s past.

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Cassini Snapped New Photo Rings of Saturn

In new photo, snapped by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on January 5, 2012, Saturn’s rings cast shadows on the huge planet. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is visible just below the rings, in the upper right of the picture. Just above the rings sits the tiny moon Prometheus, barely visible as a tiny white speck. At 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometers) in diameter, Titan is nearly 50 percent wider than Earth’s moon. The only moon in our solar system larger than Titan is Ganymede, which orbits Jupiter.

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Molecular Oxygen Ions Around Icy Moon of Saturn Dione

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has “sniffed” molecular oxygen ions around Saturn’s icy moon Dione for the first time, confirming the presence of a very tenuous atmosphere. The oxygen ions are quite sparse, one for every 0.67 cubic inches of space (one for every 11 cubic centimeters of space) or about 2,550 per cubic foot (90,000 per cubic meter), show that Dione has an extremely thin neutral atmosphere.

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Study Show Sea Ice Decline Driving Rise in Arctic Air Pollutants

According to a new NASA-led study Drastic reductions in Arctic sea ice in the last decade may be intensifying the chemical release of bromine into the atmosphere, resulting in ground-level ozone depletion and the deposit of toxic mercury in the Arctic. The connection between changes in the Arctic Ocean’s ice cover and bromine chemical processes is determined by the interaction between the salt in sea ice, frigid temperatures and sunlight. When these mix, the salty ice releases bromine into the air and starts a cascade of chemical reactions called a “bromine explosion.”

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Habitable Zone Of Red Dwarfs May Be Larger Than Thought

Red dwarfs, also known as M stars, are dim compared to stars like our sun and are just 10 to 20 percent as massive.Recently scientists found red dwarfs are far more common than before thought, making up at least 80 percent of the total number of stars. The fact that red dwarfs are so very common has made astrobiologists wonder if they might be the best chance for discovering planets habitable to life as we know it. The habitable zone of a star is defined by whether liquid water can survive on its surface. Since red dwarfs are so cold compared to our sun, planets would have to be very close in to be habitable to any life. However, being too close to a star can have its disadvantages. For instance, the gravitational pull of the star would cause tides that could wreak havoc on such a world.

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