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The appearance of a single green leaf hinted at a future in which astronauts would grow their own food in space, potentially setting up residence at outposts on the moon or other planets. Now, barely after it had sprouted, the cotton plant onboard China’s lunar rover has died. The plant relied on sunlight at the moon’s surface, but as night arrived at the lunar far side and temperatures plunged as low as -170C, its short life came to an end.


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Astronomers have revealed details of mysterious signals emanating from a distant galaxy, picked up by a telescope in Canada. The precise nature and origin of the blasts of radio waves is unknown. Among the 13 fast radio bursts, known as FRBs, was a very unusual repeating signal, coming from the same source about 1.5 billion light years away.


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Three new planets and six supernovae outside our solar system have been observed by Nasa’s planet-hunting Tess mission in its first three months. Since it started surveying the sky in July, the MIT-led Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite project has identified Pi Mensae b, a “super-Earth” that travels around its star every six days, and LHS 3844b, a rocky world with an orbit of only 11 hours.


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Humanity just planted its flag on the far side of the moon. China's robotic Chang'e 4 mission touched down on the floor of the 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater Wednesday night (Jan. 2), pulling off the first-ever soft landing on the mysterious lunar far side.


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A Chinese spacecraft could become the first ever to land on the “far side” of the moon tomorrow, in a milestone for human space exploration. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is aiming to land the craft in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest, oldest, deepest, crater on the moon’s surface. The robotic probe, Chang’e 4, entered an elliptical path around the moon last weekend, drawing as close as 15km (9 miles) from the surface. China’s mission control has not confirmed a time for the touchdown attempt but reports in state-run media suggested it would be early Thursday morning UK time.


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Happy New Year! Follow the New Horizons mission status here for the latest updates on the Ultima Thule flyby


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We hope you all had a very merry great Christmas time. Here is Universe Today’s list of the top astronomy events of 2019!


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In the early morning of Dec. 21, 1968, at Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC) Launch Pad 39A, the five engines of the Saturn V’s first stage came to life precisely on time at 7:51 AM EST, powering up to their full 7.5 million pounds of thrust. The brilliance of the flame was like a second sunrise. At the top of the 6.5-million pound rocket, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, and William A. Anders were strapped inside their Command Module (CM), the first humans to first-hand experience a Saturn V launch. After 2.5 minutes, the first stage had exhausted its fuel, burning it at the rate of 13 tons every second, and had carried the vehicle to an altitude of 40 miles. The second stage took over, burning for more than six minutes before it too fell away. The third stage, called the S-IVB, finished placing Apollo 8 into Earth orbit 11 and a half minutes after liftoff.


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The stunning Korolev crater in the northern lowlands of Mars is filled with ice all year round owing to a trapped layer of cold Martian air that keeps the water frozen. The 50-mile-wide crater contains 530 cubic miles of water ice, as much as Great Bear Lake in northern Canada, and in the centre of the crater the ice is more than a mile thick.


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New NASA research confirms that Saturn is losing its iconic rings at the maximum rate estimated from Voyager 1 & 2 observations made decades ago. The rings are being pulled into Saturn by gravity as a dusty rain of ice particles under the influence of Saturn’s magnetic field.


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Richard Branson's commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic literally soared to new heights during a Thursday morning test flight of its rocket-powered SpaceShipTwo space plane. It returned safely to Earth after the flight.


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For the second time in history, a human-made object has reached the space between the stars. NASA's Voyager 2 probe now has exited the heliosphere - the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun.


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NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander, which touched down on Mars just 10 days ago, has provided the first ever "sounds" of Martian winds on the Red Planet. A media teleconference about these sounds will be held today at 12:30 p.m. EST (9:30 a.m. PST). InSight sensors captured a haunting low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind, estimated to be blowing between 10 to 15 mph (5 to 7 meters a second) on Dec. 1, from northwest to southeast. The winds were consistent with the direction of dust devil streaks in the landing area, which were observed from orbit.


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The first spacecraft to attempt a landing on the far side of the moon is due to blast off from a launch facility in China, a historic step in lunar exploration. The Chinese space agency’s Chang’e 4 mission aims to drop a robotic lander and rover into the moon’s vast and unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest and deepest impact crater in the solar system.


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After a two-year chase, a Nasa probe has reached the ancient asteroid Bennu. The robotic explorer Osiris-Rex pulled within 12 miles (19km) of the diamond-shaped object on Monday and will go into orbit around it on 31 December. No spacecraft has ever orbited such a small body.


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Can Venus Teach Us to Take Climate Change Seriously?


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Mars has just received its newest robotic resident. NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander successfully touched down on the Red Planet after an almost seven-month, 300-million-mile (458-million-kilometer) journey from Earth. InSight’s two-year mission will be to study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including Earth and the Moon, formed.


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After a seven-month, 300m-mile journey, Nasa’s Mars InSight probe has reached its destination and touched down near the red planet’s equator. The lander came to a rest on the dusty surface shortly before 8pm GMT on Monday after a nail-biting descent that started when the spacecraft slammed into the Martian atmosphere at 12,300mph and ended minutes later with the probe settled on the ground, its thrusters quiet.


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NASA's InSight lander is scheduled to touch down on Mars at approximately 3 p.m. EST, Monday, Nov. 26. NASA TV live coverage of the InSight Mars landing will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. UTC).


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After years of development and almost 7 months of space travel, NASA will attempt to land InSight on Mars on Monday.


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NASA has chosen Jezero Crater as the landing site for its upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission after a five year search, during which every available detail of more than 60 candidate locations on the Red Planet was scrutinized and debated by the mission team and the planetary science community. The rover mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 as NASA’s next step in exploration of the Red Planet. It will not only seek signs of ancient habitable conditions – and past microbial life -- but the rover also will collect rock and soil samples and store them in a cache on the planet's surface. NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are studying future mission concepts to retrieve the samples and return them to Earth, so this landing site sets the stage for the next decade of Mars exploration.


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The Leonid meteor shower is about to light up the sky. The spectacular should be visible over the weekend, as small space rocks collide with the Earth's atmosphere and light up into shooting stars.


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The cosmic weather forecast calls for strong dark matter winds in our region of the Galaxy. The prediction is based on a new study of a nearby collection of stars that are all moving in the same direction. This so-called S1 stream is believed to be the remnant of a dwarf galaxy that was swallowed by the Milky Way billions of years ago. The dark matter from this long-gone galaxy may be blowing past us at roughly 500 km/s, according to the study’s authors. Such a “dark matter hurricane” might leave a detectable imprint in data from dark matter searches.


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A huge impact crater has been discovered under a half-mile-thick Greenland ice sheet. The enormous bowl-shaped dent appears to be the result of a mile-wide iron meteorite slamming into the island at a speed of 12 miles per second as recently as 12,000 years ago.


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SpaceX plans shortcut to test a mini version of its Big Falcon Rocket. The company hopes to send the mini rocket to orbit in June 2019.




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