Science Daily: Pluto

Meet 'DeeDee,' a distant, dim member of our solar system

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have revealed extraordinary details about a recently discovered far-flung member of our solar system, the planetary body 2014 UZ224, more informally known as DeeDee.

Solar wind stripped Martian atmosphere away

Solar wind and radiation are responsible for stripping the Martian atmosphere, transforming Mars from a planet that could have supported life billions of years ago into a frigid desert world, according to new results.

Does Mars have rings? Not right now, but maybe one day

Researchers have developed a model that suggests that debris that was pushed into space from an asteroid or other body slamming into Mars around 4.3 billion years ago and alternates between becoming a planetary ring and clumping up to form a moon.

Less radiation in inner Van Allen belt than previously believed

The inner Van Allen belt has less radiation than previously believed, according to a recent study. Observations from NASA's Van Allen probes show the fastest, most energetic electrons in the inner radiation belt are actually much rarer and harder to find than scientists expected. This is good news for spacecraft that are orbiting in the region and can be damaged by high levels of radiation.

Scientists make the case to restore Pluto's planet status

Kirby Runyon wants to make one thing clear: regardless of what one prestigious scientific organization says to the contrary, Pluto is a planet. So, he says, is Europa, commonly known as a moon of Jupiter, and so is the Earth's moon, and so are more than 100 other celestial bodies in our solar system that are denied this status under the prevailing definition of 'planet.'

Gigantic Jupiter-type planet reveals insights into how planets evolve

A team of astrophysicists studying an enormous and bizarre young planet approximately 300 lights years from Earth has gained a rare glimpse into the final stages of planetary evolution. While astronomers think the vast majority of planets outside our solar system are inside their star system's vast dusty debris disk, this strange planet is far beyond the disk.

Relativistic electrons uncovered with NASA's Van Allen Probes

Earth's radiation belts, two doughnut-shaped regions of charged particles encircling our planet, were discovered more than 50 years ago, but their behavior is still not completely understood. Now, new observations from NASA's Van Allen Probes mission show that the fastest, most energetic electrons in the inner radiation belt are not present as much of the time as previously thought.

NASA's Kepler provides another peek at ultra-cool neighbor

On Feb. 22, astronomers announced that the ultra-cool dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1, hosts a total of seven Earth-size planets that are likely rocky, a discovery made by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope in combination with ground-based telescopes. NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also has been observing this star since December 2016. Today these additional data about TRAPPIST-1 from Kepler are available to the scientific community.

New NASA radar technique finds lost lunar spacecraft

A new technological application of interplanetary radar has successfully located spacecraft orbiting the moon -- one active, and one dormant. This new technique could assist planners of future moon missions.

Probing seven worlds with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

With the discovery of seven earth-sized planets around the TRAPPIST-1 star 40 light years away, astronomers are looking to the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to help us find out if any of these planets could possibly support life.

The heat is on

NASA is developing a new family of flexible heat-shield systems with a woven carbon-fiber base material, and is using X-rays to test the designs.

Spontaneous 'dust traps:' Astronomers discover a missing link in planet formation

Planets are thought to form in the disks of dust and gas found around young stars. But astronomers have struggled to assemble a complete theory of their origin that explains how the initial dust develops into planetary systems. A team now think they have the answer, with their simulations showing the formation of 'dust traps' where pebble-sized fragments collect and stick together, to grow into the building blocks of planets.

Volcanic hydrogen spurs chances of finding exoplanet life

Hunting for habitable exoplanets now may be easier: astronomers report that hydrogen pouring from volcanic sources on planets throughout the universe could improve the chances of locating life in the cosmos.

Official naming of surface features on Pluto and its satellites: First step approved

The New Horizons flyby of Pluto and its satellites returned a scientific treasure trove of information about these distant and surprisingly complex worlds, showing a vast nitrogen glacier as well as ice mountains, canyons, cliffs, craters and more. Now the categories for official names have been approved and the name proposals can be submitted by the New Horizons team.

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

Plumbing a 90 million-year-old layer cake of sedimentary rock in Colorado, a team of scientists has found evidence confirming a critical theory of how the planets in our solar system behave in their orbits around the sun. The finding is important because it provides the first hard proof for what scientists call the ''chaotic solar system.'

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