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Monday, March 19 2018 @ 06:25 AM AKDT


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Astronomy Picture of the Day


Cassini Spacecraft Crosses Saturn's Ring Plane
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA
Explanation: If this is Saturn, where are the rings? When Saturn's "appendages" disappeared in 1612, Galileo did not understand why. Later that century, it became understood that Saturn's unusual protrusions were rings and that when the Earth crosses the ring plane, the edge-on rings will appear to disappear. This is because Saturn's rings are confined to a plane many times thinner, in proportion, than a razor blade. In modern times, the robot Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn now also crosses Saturn's ring plane. A series of plane crossing images from 2005 February was dug out of the vast online Cassini raw image archive by interested Spanish amateur Fernando Garcia Navarro. Pictured above, digitally cropped and set in representative colors, is the striking result. Saturn's thin ring plane appears in blue, bands and clouds in Saturn's upper atmosphere appear in gold. Details of Saturn's rings can be seen in the high dark shadows across the top of this image, taken back in 2005. Moons appear as bumps in the rings.
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Russian satellite predicted to hit Earth today.

ScienceThe defunct Russian satellite Kosmos-1220 may be falling somewhere into the Pacific Ocean, but 'the exact impact time and location … may change due to external factors,' according to a Russian authority. The size and weight are also not known, but much of the satellite is expected to burn up during reentry, though some fragments will hit the Earth.
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Huge Asteroid to Fly Safely By Earth Monday: Watch It Live

ScienceA Contributor writes: "An asteroid the size of three football fields is set to make a close brush of Earth on Monday (Feb. 17), and you can watch the flyby in a live webcast.

Near-Earth asteroid 2000 EM26 poses no threat of actually hitting the planet, but the online Slooh Space Camera will track the asteroid as it passes by Earth on Monday. The live Slooh webcast will start at 9 p.m. EST (0200 Feb. 18 GMT), and you can also watch the webcast directly through the Slooh website."

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6 Sky Events This Week: Cosmic Outburst, Asteroid Flyby, Buzzing Beehive

ScienceNational Geographic, founded today in 1888 for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge, posted a list of sky events coming this week. Mild local weather means it's a great time to enjoy our beautiful night sky. Go to: the National Geographic news page for more information.
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Celebrating 10 Years on Mars!

ScienceNASA-"Opportunity, one of NASA's twin Mars Exploration Rovers, reached the Red Planet Jan. 24, 2004 (PST), on what was to be a three-month mission, but instead the rover has lived beyond its prime mission and roved the planet for nearly 10 years. It landed three weeks after its twin, named Spirit. Both rovers made important discoveries about wet environments that could have supported microbial life on ancient Mars. Spirit stopped communicating with Earth in 2010. Opportunity is continuing to provide scientific results, and currently is investigating the rim of a crater 14 miles (22 kilometers) wide.

Opportunity 'Selfie'
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Spiral Galaxies Used To Be ‘Barless’, According To Galaxy Zoo

Science"There are a number of interesting puzzles in astronomy that have faced significant challenge because the analysis simply requires massive amounts of data and complicated algorithms that demands serious computing power. Luckily, in at least some of these cases, the same algorithms that are a difficult for a computer to execute are relatively easy for our brains to decipher. Even better? You don’t even have to be particularly talented in math or science to contribute.

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Searching For The Science Behind Reincarnation

Science"Say a child has memories of being a Hollywood extra in the 1930s. Is it just an active imagination, or actual evidence of reincarnation? Jim Tucker, a psychologist at the University of Virginia studies hundreds of cases like this and joins NPR's Rachel Martin to share his research on the science behind reincarnation."
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Curiosity rover spotted by Mars orbiter

Science"A high-resolution camera mounted on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has collected imagery showing the Curiosity rover's trek across Gale Crater toward a three-mile-high mountain.

Scientists often use the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera to study the red planet's evolving geology, detecting intermittent water percolating to the Martian surface, mapping the planet's craters, mountains and canyons, and surveying landing sites for future missions.

HiRISE has also periodically imaged spacecraft already on Mars, including Curiosity, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers and the Phoenix lander after it arrived in 2008. "
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Study: Dogs accompanied humans across the Bering Land Bridge

Science"When people first walked across the Bering Land Bridge thousands of years ago, dogs were by their sides, according to researchers who wrote a paper published in the journal Science.

Scientists from Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles used dog DNA material -- some of it unearthed by miners in Interior Alaska -- to conclude that today’s domestic dog originated in Asia and accompanied the first humans to the New World about 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. One of the study’s coauthors suggests that man’s best friend may have enabled the arduous journey from Asia into North America."
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NASA lays out long-term vision for astrophysics

ScienceA new year is a good time to make long-term plans, and NASA has jumped into the deep end of planning. On 20 December the US space agency’s astrophysics division released a wish list of future space missions — looking three decades into the future, and even beyond.

The new ‘astrophysics road map’ is notable not because it restates broad and popular themes it thinks scientists should pursue, such as ‘Are we Alone?’, ‘How Did We Get Here?’ and ‘How Does Our Universe Work?’, but because the report, compiled by a team led by NASA’s Chryssa Kouveliotou, also lays out the technologies needed to help missions answer these broad-brush questions.
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Researchers find no proof of Time Travellers

Science"Anyone hoping to one day emulate the likes of time travellers Doctor Who or Marty McFly in Back To The Future has just been dealt a devastating blow.

Researchers from Michigan have scoured websites, search engine results and social networks dating back as far as 1996 in search of people who discussed select events before they happened.

They even asked time travellers from the future to tweet using a specific hashtag.
Yet despite comprehensive analysis of thousands of records, they were unable to find any evidence time travellers existed."

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Dogs align themselves with Earth’s magnetic field when it comes time to poop

ScienceJan. 2 (UPI) -- Dogs have been found to be sensitive to Earth's magnetic field, and apparently align themselves along the magnetic north-south axis before they defecate.
Czech and German researchers studied 70 dogs during 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations over the course of two years, and found that when the Earth's magnetic field was stable the dogs chose to align themselves with it. When it was unstable, such as during a solar flare, the dogs would become confused.

Their findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology, show that the dogs were sensitive to the polarity of the field, though not as much to its intensity.

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Former Alaska broadcast journalist in running for one-way trip to Mars

Science“A New York City comedian and former Alaska broadcast journalist has been chosen as one of about 1,000 finalists for a Dutch-based plan to send people to colonize Mars. The initial list of people who applied for a one-way trip to the Red Planet contained more than 200,000 names. Former Fairbanks resident Lauren Reeves, 30, is among the “lucky” ones named to the list of semi-finalists, which was announced early Tuesday.” Read More
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