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Wednesday, May 23rd

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NASA launches InSight lander toward Mars

NASA launches InSight lander toward MarsIn a first for the West Coast, an Atlas 5 rocket boosted a robotic Mars lander into space Saturday, the first step in a six-and-a-half month voyage to the red planet for a two-year, $1 billion mission to monitor marsquakes, probe the temperature of the core and map the planet's hidden interior.

With heavy fog blanketing Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Los Angeles, the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5's first stage engine thundered to life at 4:05 a.m. PT (GMT-7; 7:05 a.m. ET), throttled up to full thrust and quickly pushed the 20-story-tall booster away from pad 3-East atop 860,000 pounds of thrust.

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NASA Mars Mission Faces Setback After Heat Shield Cracks Under Pressure

NASA setback: heat shield on Mars probe cracks

A critical part of NASA's next $2 billion rover mission to Mars broke during testing earlier this month.

The Mars 2020 mission's heat shield was undergoing stress-testing when it developed a crack that appeared around its entire circumference. The shield is designed to protect the rover as it enters the Martian atmosphere.

"The test was designed to subject the heat shield to forces up to 20 percent greater than those expected during entry into the Martian atmosphere," NASA said in a statement. The crack was "unexpected" according to the release, and engineers will have to build a new shield for the mission.

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NASA to launch satellite looking for 20,000 new exoplanets

NASA to launch satellite looking for exoplanets

NASA is set to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on Monday, starting a new chapter in the search for planets that could potentially support extraterrestrial life.

During its mission, TESS will analyse thousands of relatively nearby stars for planets orbiting the stars.

According to NASA, scientists expect to find about 50 Earth-sized planets and about 20,000 exoplanets in total, of which the vast majority will probably be larger than Neptune, our solar system's fourth biggest planet.

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Stephen Hawking: Visionary physicist dies aged 76

Stephen Hawking

World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.

He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, his family said.

The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease.

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Scientists discover atoms inside the orbiting electrons of a 'giant atom'

Scientists discover atoms inside electrons of giant atom Scientists have discovered an atom filled with atoms. The atom's electrons orbit at such a great distance that there's room for other atoms.

The atoms within the "giant atom" form weak bonds, produ cing a new exotic state of matter -- what scientists have dubbed "Rydberg polarons."

The discovery combines a pair of atomic phenomenon, both of which can only be studied under extremely cold conditions: Bose-Einstein condensates and Rydberg atoms.

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Move over, Dolly: Monkeys cloned; a step closer to people?

Moneys cloned; are humans next?For the first time, researchers have used the cloning method that produced Dolly the sheep to create two healthy monkeys, bringing science an important step closer to being able to do the same with humans.

Since Dolly's birth in 1996, scientists have cloned nearly two dozen kinds of mammals, including dogs, cats, pigs, cows and polo ponies, and have also created human embryos with this method. But until now, they have been unable to make babies this way in primates, the category that includes monkeys, apes and people.

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Scientists invent double-pane solar windows powered by quantum dots

scientists invent double panel solar windowsResearchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have designed efficient and cost-effective solar windows by combining quantum dot technology with a double pane structure.

The layers of quantum dots are tweaked to absorb only part of the solar spectrum, allowing the double-pane solar windows to generate energy while providing shade and insulation.

Scientists suggest the new technology will lower the cost of solar electricity.

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