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Dung beetles follow the milky way: Insects found to use stars for orientation

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The dung beetle is the first animal proven to use the Milky Way for orientation. (Credit: Emily Baird)

Jan. 24, 2013 — An insect with a tiny brain and minimal computing power has become the first animal proven to use the Milky Way for orientation. Scientists from South Africa and Sweden have published findings showing the link between dung beetles and the spray of stars which comprises our galaxy.

Although their eyes are too weak to distinguish individual constellations, dung beetles use the gradient of light to dark provided by the Milky Way to ensure they keep rolling their balls in a straight line and don't circle back to competitors at the dung pile.

"The dung beetles don't care which...

Revolutionary theory of dark matter

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Looking for dark matter. Professor Are Raklev has launched a mathematical model that explains what dark matter may consist of. (Credit: Yngve Vogt)

Jan. 24, 2013 — The universe abounds with dark matter. Nobody knows what it consists of. University of Oslo physicists have now come up with a mathematical explanation that could solve the mystery once and for all.

Astrophysicists have known for the last 80 years that most of the universe consists of an unknown...

Space instrument adds big piece to solar corona puzzle

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This is one of the highest-resolution images ever taken of the solar corona, or outer atmosphere. It was captured by NASA's High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, in the ultraviolet wavelength of 19.3 nanometers. Hi-C showed that the Sun is dynamic, with magnetic fields constantly warping, twisting, and colliding in bursts of energy. Added together, those energy bursts can boost the temperature of the corona to 7 million degrees Fahrenheit when the Sun is particularly active...

How the universe has cooled since the Big Bang fits Big Bang theory

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Radio waves from a distant quasar pass through another galaxy on their way to Earth. Changes in the radio waves indicate the temperature of the gas. (Credit: Onsala Space Observatory)

Jan. 22, 2013 — Astronomers using a CSIRO radio telescope have taken the Universe's temperature, and have found that it has cooled down just the way the Big Bang theory predicts.

Using the CSIRO Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, NSW, an international team from...

Setting the Dark on Fire: Beautiful view of clouds of cosmic dust in region of Orion

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A new image from the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile shows a beautiful view of clouds of cosmic dust in the region of Orion. While these dense interstellar clouds seem dark and obscured in visible-light observations, APEX’s LABOCA camera can detect the heat glow of the dust and reveal the hiding places where new stars are being formed. The image shows the region around the reflection nebula NGC 1999 in visible light, with the APEX observations overlaid in...

NASA to test Bigelow expandable module on space station

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The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. (Credit: Bigelow)

Jan. 22, 2013 — NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced Jan. 16 a newly planned addition to the International Space Station that will use the orbiting laboratory to test expandable space habitat technology. NASA has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to provide a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which is scheduled to arrive at the space station in 2015 for a two-year...

NASA's IRIS spacecraft is fully integrated

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The fully integrated spacecraft and science instrument for NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission is seen in a clean room at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Sunnyvale, Calif. facility. The solar arrays are deployed in the configuration they will assume when in orbit. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Jan. 22, 2013 — NASA's next Small Explorer (SMEX) mission to study the little-understood lower levels of the sun's atmosphere has been fully integrated...

Hubble focuses on the 'Great Attractor'

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Located on the border of Triangulum Australe (The Southern Triangle) and Norma (The Carpenter’s Square), this field covers part of the Norma Cluster (Abell 3627) as well as a dense area of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. (Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

Jan. 22, 2013 — A busy patch of space has been captured in an image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Scattered with many nearby stars, the field also has numerous galaxies in the...

NASA signs agreement for a European-provided Orion service module

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As part of a new agreement between the two space agencies, the European Space Agency will provide the service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

Jan. 22, 2013 — NASA signed an agreement in mid-December for the European Space Agency (ESA) to provide a service module for the Orion spacecraft's Exploration Mission-1 in 2017.

When the Orion spacecraft blasts off atop NASA's Space Launch System rocket in 2017, attached will be the...