Zapped By Zodiacal Light

Every fall, a big, faint, cone-shaped glow towers in the eastern sky at the start of dawn called the zodiacal light. It resembles the Milky Way’s smoky appearance but has a smoother texture, and instead of being comprised of stars, originates from comet and asteroid dust. Dust and fine rocky grit sloughed by comets as…
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Dust Storms May Be Linked To Erosion Of Mars’ Atmosphere

Don’t be surprised if you hear the god of war’s name dropped in casual conversation at the local burger joint this summer. 2018 promises to be the Year of Mars. On July 31, Mars will come closest to Earth since 2003 during its perihelic opposition. Every 15 or 16 years, Mars reaches perihelion (closest to the…
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See What Comets And Blizzards Have In Common

If you’ve ever driven through a snowstorm you know how disorienting it can be. Millions of flakes rebounding off your windshield. White-out conditions. It’s not so different for a spacecraft orbiting a comet. The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission had a similar experience, for more than two years, as it flew alongside Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko between 2014…
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Ancient Dust In Remote Galaxy Ties Us To Our Cosmic Beginnings

To make planets and people you need dust. That’s what we’re made of. Dust. But mixed and tended in ways so remarkable our bodies give that dust passion and voice. Dust comes from aging and exploding stars. Supernovae are the most spectacular but not the only dust-makers. As stars like our sun age, they puff…
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Heavenly Ho Ho Ho! From A Cosmic Santa Claus

If you look closely, you might be able to picture the face of Santa Claus in these festive pink clouds. You’re seeing two overlapping glowing nebulas called NGC 248 in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a small galaxy that orbits the Milky Way like a planet orbit the sun. Intense radiation from hot young stars in the center…
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