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On Saturday, SpaceX triumphantly returned to flight after an accident last September. The company launched 10 Iridium satellites into an orbit 625km above the Earth's surface, and, as a bonus, SpaceX also demonstrated its increasing mastery of rocket landings by bringing the first stage booster back to a drone ship off the California coast. SpaceX has now successfully landed seven rockets back on Earth.


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Astronomers studying a binary star system about 1,800 light years from the Sun say they are increasingly confident that the two stars will merge into a luminous red nova in about five years. At its brightest, the spectacular explosion produced by this nova could reach an apparent magnitude of about 2.0, akin to a bright star in the night sky, making it visible even from most urban areas.


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On December 30, the White House quietly released its Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy, a 25-page document outlining the United States’ plans in the event that a giant asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth. Among the priorities outlined by the strategy are improving Near-Earth Object (NEO) detection, developing methods for deflecting asteroids, and developing interagency emergency procedures in the event of an NEO impact.


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Asteroids are some of the last unexplored territories in the solar system. To help fill in some of the blanks, NASA just announced two upcoming missions that will visit new types of asteroids in the 2030s. Launching in 2023, the Psyche spacecraft will fly into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter to explore an asteroid quite unlike the balls of mud, ice, and rock we've studied before; "16 Psyche" is a giant hunk of metal. Measuring 130 miles in diameter, it's thought to be made of iron and nickel. 16 Psyche may be the leftover core of a protoplanet—an infant world as large as Mars. Violent collisions are thought to have blasted away its rocky outer layers, leaving behind an asteroid very similar to Earth's own metallic core.


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New Horizons continues to deliver the goods. Having sent back all of the data collected during its Pluto flyby in 2015, the spacecraft is still speeding along at a velocity of 14.32 kilometers per second relative to the Sun. That has allowed it to travel almost halfway between Pluto and its next target, a small Kuiper Belt object called 2014 MU69. By last Sunday, in fact, it had come to within two years of its flyby date—January 1, 2019.


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The best observatory in the world is arguably divided among three sites in northern Chile—La Silla, Paranal, and Chajnantor. Each location in the high, arid Atacama desert offers excellent dark and clear skies for the European Southern Observatory's suite of telescopes. At 2,635 meters in elevation Paranal boasts the best instruments, with four 8.2-meter telescopes combining to make up the Very Large Telescope. Such an observatory also fulfills another, more human purpose. Outside of our light-polluted cities (and even countrysides in developed countries), the dark skies above the Atacama offer perspective on Earth's minuscule corner of the observable Universe.


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Water ice has been found on the dwarf planet Ceres, data from Nasa's Dawn spacecraft has revealed. The discovery of the ice makes Ceres the third planetary body to have the substance within our solar system, after the Moon and Mercury.


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We have some exciting news. We have an update for our iOS app going live tomorrow! The standard version will get some new features and the opportunity to update from Redshift to Redshift Pro with an In App Purchase. These are the new Redshift features (update 3.0): - Lunar/planetary gazetteers - 3D-model of the Milky Way galaxy - Extended Today’s Sky panel (visibility of space stations, events in the sky and weather tonight) - Notification about today’s events at startup - Dictionary of Astronomy - In-App Purchase: Upgrade to Redshift Pro Redshift Pro will also be updated and will then be available in the same 10 languages as Redshift standard (update 1.1): - Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese localisations - Access to the GAIA DR1 online catalog of 1.1 billion stars - 3D-area of stars from the Hipparcos and Tycho-2 catalogs in the Milky Way galaxy


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This movie, based on images taken by ESA’s Mars Express, highlights Mawrth Vallis, a 600 km-long, 2 km-deep outflow channel at the boundary of the southern highlands and the northern lowlands of Mars.


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John Glenn, former astronaut and US senator for almost quarter of a century, has died in Ohio aged 95. Glenn became a national hero in 1962 when he became the first American to orbit the Earth, one year after the Soviet Union had sent their own man into orbit, Yuri Gagarin. Glenn was the third US astronaut in space and the first American in orbit, circling the Earth three times.


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Hyperion, one of Saturn's small moons, orbits the planet in such a chaotic manner that it's impossible to predict.


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An uncrewed Russian spacecraft meant to resupply the International Space Station has been lost. Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, says that communication with the spacecraft ended 382 seconds into the flight. The third stage of the Soyuz rocket, which helps propel the cargo ship to its final orbit, reportedly shut down “earlier than planned” according to NASA’s live broadcast of the mission. The Progress MS-04 spacecraft never made it into proper orbit without that full third stage burn. Instead, gravity took hold and it burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere sometime in the hours after the 9:51AM ET launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Reports of explosions and fireballs in the sky of Tuva, Russia around the same time.


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NASA offers live HD Earth viewing from the International Space Station - go full screen, sit back, watch and enjoy our home planet.


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International Astronomical Union formally approves 227 star names


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A cauliflower-shaped structure on Mars has some researchers scratching their heads — and others wondering if it could have been created by martian microbes. The Spirit rover discovered pieces of a mineral called opaline silica on Mars in 2007 in the Gusev crater. The silica is commonly seen in nodular masses that look like cauliflower sprouting out of the ground.


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The most spectacular supermoon since 1948 will light up the sky, appearing 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than usual. The event on Monday November 14 - described as "undeniably beautiful" by American space agency Nasa - is the result of the moon coming closer to Earth than it has done for 69 years. Nothing will match it until the moon makes a similar approach on November 25 2034. At 11.23am UK time on Monday, the gap between the Earth and the moon will close to its shortest point, known as "perigee" - a distance of 221,525 miles (356,510 km). Sky watchers in the UK will have to wait a little longer before the full moon emerges in all its glory shortly before 5pm.


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Executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer previously worked together on Apollo 13, A Brilliant Mind, and From Earth to the Moon. We caught up with them to chat about why Mars captured their attention, and how it felt to make a documentary about the future instead of the past.


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Just when you thought our planet had enough doomsday problems to grapple with, Saturn went ahead and changed colors on us. Specifically, Saturn’s north pole—a hexagonal vortex that Gizmodo claims could swallow our planet whole. While no one knows for certain how Saturn’s north pole came to be this way, scientists have been tracking its shifting hue thanks to the Cassini Imaging Team, a probe that has been circling the planet since 2004.


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If you step outside on November 14, you might notice the moon is looking bigger and brighter than usual. Bigger in fact, than it has appeared at any point in the last 68 years, say scientists. This month's supermoon, the penultimate of the year, will be the biggest so far of the 21st century.


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The director general of the European Space Agency, a German civil engineer named Johann-Dietrich Woerner, has for more than a year engaged in a charm offensive to unite the primary spacefaring nations. The goal? Creating a “village” on the Moon. Woerner has pressed his case for the Moon even as his agency’s closest ally, NASA and President Obama, have pushed for a human “Journey to Mars.”


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After more than 20 years of construction, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is complete and, following in-depth testing, the largest-ever space telescope is expected to launch within two years, NASA officials announced.




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