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...

Oldest most complete, genetically intact human skeleton in New World

The skeletal remains of a teenage female from the late Pleistocene or last ice age found in an underwater cave in Mexico have major implications for our understanding of the...

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.

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 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...

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...

New isotopic evidence supporting moon formation via Earth collision with planet-sized body

A new series of measurements of oxygen isotopes provides increasing evidence that the Moon formed from the collision of Earth with another large, planet-sized astronomical body, around 4.5 billion years...

Scientist identifies world's biggest-ever flying bird

Paleontologist Dan Ksepka examines the fossilized skull of what may be the biggest flying bird ever found. Its telltale beak allowed Ksepka to identify the find as a previously unknown species of pelagornithid, an extinct group of giant seabirds known for bony tooth-like spikes that lined their upper and lower jaws.Scientists have identified the fossilized remains of an extinct giant bird that could be the biggest flying bird ever found. With an estimated 20-24-foot wingspan, the creature surpassed size estimates...

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.

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...

Extinct human cousin gave Tibetans advantage at high elevation

A Chinese researcher collects a blood sample from an ethnic Tibetan man participating in the DNA study.Tibetans were able to adapt to high altitudes thanks to a gene picked up when their ancestors mated with a species of human they helped push to extinction, according to...

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,...

Functioning of aged brains and muscles in mice made younger

This is Amy Wagers, Harvard Stem Cell Institute Principal Faculty Member and professor in Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology.Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers have shown that a protein they previously demonstrated can make the failing hearts in aging mice appear more like those of young health mice,...

Curiosity's SAM instrument finds water and more in surface sample

The Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite found water in the dust, dirt and fine soil from the Rocknest site on Mars. (This file photo shows trenches Curiosity dug in October 2012.)The first scoop of soil analyzed by the analytical suite in the belly of NASA's Curiosity rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain several percent...

Dolphins keep lifelong social memories, longest in a non-human species

Jason Bruck, who completed his Ph.D. this summer at the University of Chicago, is pictured here working with a dolphin at the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago. His research indicates that dolphins have the longest social memory ever recorded among non-human species.Dolphins can recognize their old tank mates' whistles after being separated for more than 20 years -- the longest social memory ever recorded for a non-human species.

Oklahoma quakes induced by wastewater injection, study finds

The dramatic increase in earthquakes in central Oklahoma since 2009 is likely attributable to subsurface wastewater injection at just a handful of disposal wells, finds a new study to be...