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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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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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Ex-NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless, first to fly untethered in space, dies

Ex-NASA astronaaut Bruce McCandless, dies at 71Former NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless, the first person to fly untethered in space, died this week at 80 years old, the agency said Friday.

McCandless, who died Thursday, became the first astronaut to fly in space without being harnessed to a space vessel on Feb. 7, 1984, while on a mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Other astronauts on the mission used a 70mm camera to capture the moment in a now-iconic photograph, NASA said in a release.

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Farewell Cassini: Saturn spacecraft makes fiery, final dive

Cassini makes final, fiery diveNASA's Cassini spacecraft disintegrated in the skies above Saturn on Friday in a final, fateful blaze of cosmic glory, following a remarkable journey of 20 years.

Confirmation of Cassini's expected demise came about 7:55 a.m. EDT. That's when radio signals from the spacecraft — its last scientific gifts to Earth — came to an abrupt halt. The radio waves went flat, and the spacecraft fell silent.

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Massive black hole discovered near heart of the Milky Way

Black hole found at center of Milky WayAn enormous black hole one hundred thousand times more massive than the sun has been found hiding in a toxic gas cloud wafting around near the heart of the Milky Way.

If the discovery is confirmed, the invisible behemoth will rank as the second largest black hole ever seen in the Milky Way after the supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A* that is anchored at the very centre of the galaxy.

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