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Earth and space sciences posts

The heart of Pluto News

by David, 10 November 2017 | 0 comments

Pluto

Sputnik Planitia is a gigantic, ice-covered area, one thousand kilometres across. This large, pale basin makes up one half of the famous ‘heart’ shape on Pluto’s surface. Despite its size, the Sputnik Planitia was discovered recently, and it only got its name this year!

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Rocks and genes tell the same story News

by David, 19 September 2017 | 0 comments

A map of a world where all the land is connected into one blob.

The rocks beneath your feet tell an amazing story. Back when dinosaurs roamed the land, all the continents of Earth were joined together in a supercontinent we call Pangaea. But it wasn’t to last. About 180 million years ago, Pangaea started to split apart – first into two, and then into smaller and smaller pieces. Eventually,…

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A wiggly photo shoot for the Moon

by David, 19 July 2017 | 0 comments

A wiggly photo of a cratered surface.

If humans return to the Moon, they will need good maps. Luckily, one plucky little spacecraft has been making them. For the past seven years, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been painstakingly photographing almost all of the Moon’s surface. But the mission has not always gone to plan. One day, a photo came out…

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This supercomputer is super-fast, and super-cool News

by David, 7 July 2017 | 0 comments

A diagram illustrating undergraound lakes fedin into a supercomputer.

A few kilometres from the centre of Perth sits the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. This futuristic building contains several supercomputers, including the fastest computer in the southern hemisphere, Magnus. Pawsey is dedicated to supporting science, but it takes a lot of science to keep the building running.

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Making bricks on Mars News

by David, 25 May 2017 | 0 comments

An illustration of an underground Mars base.

If you’ve ever dreamed of living on Mars, you’ve probably realised you’ll need a place to live. That’s one reason to be excited about Martian brick research being conducted by scientists in the United States. Recently, a team showed that it’s actually quite easy to make bricks out of Mars dirt. But how did they…

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Hovering surprise for earthquake scientists News

by David, 12 May 2017 | 0 comments

A blue helicopter.

Iceland is a remote and beautiful island, brimming with volcanoes. Volcanic eruptions give the Earth an almighty shake, so it’s no surprise that Iceland has lots of earthquake measuring seismometers. But you might be surprised to find out what these instruments are picking up. Recently, a team of scientists placed several seismometers around an Icelandic…

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Cool stars and comfy planets News

by David, 17 March 2017 | 0 comments

Is there life on other planets? It may seem like we’re alone in the universe, but there’s still hope. The race is on to find signs of life on Earth-like planets, which have atmospheres and liquid water on the surface. Recently, it was announced that scientists have discovered seven planets orbiting nearby star TRAPPIST-1, each…

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Who knew? Sea birds fight climate change! Activity

by David, 9 January 2017 | 0 comments

You might think we know everything there is to know about climate change. We know that greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are trapping heat. And we know that average temperatures are climbing worldwide. But there’s still lots for us to learn, and new discoveries are being made all the time. For example,…

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New dish helps spaceships phone home

by David, 22 December 2016 | 0 comments

Voyager, Pathfinder, Cassini. Humanity has sent out dozens of plucky little space probes to explore our solar system. But when these robots need to call home, who’s listening in? Luckily for them, NASA has three deep space communication complexes scattered around the world. One of them is right here in Australia, operated by CSIRO. And…

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We found Philae!

by David, 14 November 2016 | 0 comments

It’s been a wild ride through space for the Philae lander. Two years ago, Philae hitched a ride aboard the European Space Agency spacecraft Rosetta. Together they took a one-way trip to a comet known as 67P. This little lander became the first spacecraft to touchdown on a comet. Unfortunately, Philae’s harpoons didn’t fire properly…

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