Gravity measurements confirm subsurface ocean on Enceladus

In 2005, NASA's Cassini spacecraft sent pictures back to Earth depicting an icy Saturnian moon spewing water vapor and ice from fractures, known as "tiger stripes," in its frozen surface. It was big news that tiny Enceladus -- a mere...

NIF experiments show initial gain in fusion fuel

Ignition -- the process of releasing fusion energy equal to or greater than the amount of energy used to confine the fuel -- has long been considered the "holy grail"...

'The era of neutrino astronomy has begun'

Computers at the IceCube laboratory collect raw data in near-real time from detectors buried deep in the Antarctic ice. Events selected for physics studies are sent north via satellite for use by any member of the IceCube Collaboration. The UMD Maryland IceCube team designed the data collection system.Astrophysicists using a telescope embedded in Antarctic ice have succeeded in a quest to detect and record the mysterious phenomena known as cosmic neutrinos -- nearly massless particles that stream...

Astronomers answer key question: How common are habitable planets?

NASA's Kepler spacecraft observed 150,000 stars within a field in the constellation Cygnus.NASA's Kepler space telescope, now crippled and its four-year mission at an end, nevertheless provided enough data to answer its main research question: How many of the 200 billion stars...

Using airport screening technology to visualize waves in fusion plasma

ECE-Imaging and the new diagnostic, MIR, sample overlapping regions of the tokamak plasma and produce 2D images of turbulence and fluctuations. ECE-Imaging measures the radiation temperature of electrons orbiting around magnetic field lines, while MIR detects changes in the electron density. In the series of frames shown, an instability associated with the formation of internal magnetic islands can be seen rotating through the diagnostic field of view.Millimeter-wave imaging technology is widely used in airborne radar, automotive sensors and full-body scanners for passenger screening at airports. A new, quasi-optical radar technique images millimeter-wave radiation reflected from fusion...

Robotic construction crew needs no foreman

The TERMES robots can carry bricks, build staircases, and climb them to add bricks to a structure, following low-level rules to independently complete a construction project.On the plains of Namibia, millions of tiny termites are building a mound of soil -- an 8-foot-tall "lung" for their underground nest. During a year of construction, many termites...

When is a comet not a comet?

These NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images reveal a never-before seen set of six comet-like tails radiating from a body in the asteroid belt and designated P/2013 P5.

The asteroid was discovered as an unusually fuzzy looking object by astronomers using the Pan-STARRS survey telescope in Hawaii. The multiple tails were discovered in Hubble images taken on 10 September 2013. When Hubble returned to the asteroid on 23 September its appearance had totally changed — it looked as if the entire structure had swung around.

One interpretation is that the asteroid's rotation rate has increased to the point where dust is falling off the surface and escaping into space, where it is swept out into tails by the pressure of sunlight. According to this theory, the asteroid's spin has been accelerated by the gentle push of sunlight. Based on an analysis of the tail structure, the object has ejected dust for at least five months.

These visible-light images were taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. P/2013 P5 is seen on the left as viewed on 10 September 2013, and on the right as seen on 23 September 2013.Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have observed a unique and baffling object in the asteroid belt that looks like a rotating lawn sprinkler or badminton shuttlecock. While this...

NASA's Van Allen Probes discover particle accelerator in the heart of Earth's radiation belts

Recent observations by NASA's twin Van Allen Probes show that particles in the radiation belts surrounding Earth are accelerated by a local kick of energy, helping to explain how these particles reach speeds of 99 percent the speed of light.Scientists have discovered a massive particle accelerator in the heart of one of the harshest regions of near-Earth space, a region of super-energetic, charged particles surrounding the globe called the...

NASA Hubble finds new Neptune moon

This composite Hubble Space Telescope picture shows the location of a newly discovered moon, designated S/2004 N 1, orbiting Neptune. The black and white image was taken in 2009 with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 in visible light. Hubble took the color inset of Neptune on August 2009.NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a new moon orbiting the distant blue-green planet Neptune, the 14th known to be circling the giant planet.

Bad night's sleep? The moon could be to blame

Many people complain about poor sleep around the full moon, and now a report appearing in <i>Current Biology</i>, a Cell Press publication, on July 25 offers some of the first convincing scientific evidence to suggest that this really is true. The findings add to evidence that humans -- despite the comforts of our civilized world -- still respond to the geophysical rhythms of the moon, driven by a circalunar clock.Many people complain about poor sleep around the full moon, and now a report appearing in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on July 25 offers some of the first...

Smithsonian scientists discover new species of carnivore

Observed in the wild, tucked away in museum collections, and even exhibited in zoos around the world -- there is one mysterious creature that has been a victim of mistaken...

Scientists announce first results from LUX dark matter detector

In its first three months of operation, the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment has proven itself to be the most sensitive dark matter detector in the world, scientists with the experiment announced today.

NASA data reveals mega-canyon under Greenland Ice Sheet

Data from a NASA airborne science mission reveals evidence of a large and previously unknown canyon hidden under a mile of Greenland ice.

NASA Hubble finds a true blue planet

This plot compares the colors of planets in our solar system to exoplanet HD 189733b. The exoplanet's deep blue color is produced by silicate droplets, which scatter blue light in its atmosphere.Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have deduced the actual visible-light color of a planet orbiting another star 63 light-years away.

A 700,000 year old horse gets its genome sequenced

Dr. Ludovic Orlando and professor Eske Willerslev, both of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, have sequenced the genome of the oldest horse ever found on Earth. Bone fragments from a 700,000 year old nag excavated in Yukon, Canada, had enough DNA in them to reveal new aspects of the evolutionary history of the horse.It is nothing short of a world record in DNA research that scientists at the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark (University of Copenhagen) have hit....

Humans can distinguish at least 1 trillion different odors

In a world perfumed by freshly popped popcorn and exhaust fumes, where sea breezes can mingle with the scents of sweet flowers or wet paint, new research shows that humans...

Archaeologists discover largest, oldest wine cellar in Near East

Ancient wine jugs were unearthed at Tel Kabri.Would you drink wine flavored with mint, honey and a dash of psychotropic resins? Ancient Canaanites did more than 3,000 years ago.

Researchers discover that an exoplanet is Earth-like in mass and size

In August, MIT researchers identified an exoplanet with an extremely brief orbital period: The team found that Kepler 78b, a small, intensely hot planet 400 light-years from Earth,...

Nuke test radiation can fight poachers

This African elephant has what are believed to be the biggest tusks among elephants at Kenya's Samburu National Reserve. Illegal poaching of some 30,000 elephants a year for their ivory tusks threatens the animals with extinction. University of Utah geochemists developed a new way to fight poaching of elephants, hippos, rhinos and other animals. Carbon-14 from 1950s and 1960s nuclear  weapons tests was and still is deposited in animals' tusks or teeth, and those carbon-14 levels reveal the year an animal died, and thus whether the ivory was taken before or after international bans on ivory trading.University of Utah researchers developed a new weapon to fight poachers who kill elephants, hippos, rhinos and other wildlife. By measuring radioactive carbon-14 deposited in tusks and teeth by open-air...

Evolution of monogamy in humans the result of infanticide risk

The threat of infants being killed by unrelated males is the key driver of monogamy in humans and other primates.

NASA'S Chandra catches our galaxy's giant black hole rejecting food

One of the biggest observing campaigns ever performed by Chandra has provided new understanding into why gas near the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way is extraordinarily faint in X-rays. The large image contains X-rays from Chandra (blue) and infrared emission from the Hubble (red and yellow). The inset shows a close-up of Sgr A* in X-rays only, covering a region half a light year wide. The diffuse X-ray emission is from hot gas captured by the black hole and being pulled inwards. The new results indicate that less than 1% of the material that is initially within the black hole's gravitational grasp reaches the event horizon, or, point of no return.Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have taken a major step in explaining why material around the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy is extraordinarily...

Sharks stun sardine prey with tail-slaps

Thresher sharks hunt schooling sardines in the waters off a small coral island in the Philippines by rapidly slapping their tails hard enough to stun or kill several of the...