Plants

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking faster than ever before

In any other circumstance, a huge, red, festering blemish would be a bad thing but not for the planet Jupiter. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has been a defining characteristic of the planet since man began looking at the stars through bamboo shoots. But that may be about to change. NASA says that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking in size faster than ever and could disappear altogether within 20 years. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is an Earth-sized storm raging on the gas giant’s surface. Scientists have known about the red spot since at least 1831 (and possibly as early as 1665). The storm rotates differently than the planet’s atmosphere and is believed to have traveled around the planet several times during its recorded history. For…
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Space

Oh how cute! Saturn just made an itty-biddy baby moon (named “Peggy”)

Saturn has more than 60 moons and researchers said yesterday that they think they may have captured a photo of Saturn giving birth to another itty-biddy moon (which they named "Peggy"). NASA’s Cassini space probe took the picture in April 2013 which shows a bright arc about 750 miles wide at the edge of Saturn’s outermost ring (see bottom left-hand side of picture above). Scientists think the arc and strange bumps located near it were probably created by the gravity of a small, icy object – possibly a newborn moon. Scientists think that most of Saturn’s moons are made of ice that broke out of Saturn’s rings (which are also made mostly of water ice) when the rings were much, much bigger.
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Space

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft provides evidence of an ocean of water underneath Saturn’s moon

Scientists had long thought that Saturn’s moon Enceladus had an ocean of liquid water underneath its thick, icy surface (in 2004, NASA scientists saw water vapor and ice spewing from vents near the moon’s south pole). Today. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft revealed actual evidence that their theory was correct – an ocean lies hidden inside the moon. NASA scientists discovered the evidence by deducing gravity variations using the Doppler Effect (the same principle used in our earthly radar systems). NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explained: “As the spacecraft flies by Enceladus, its velocity is perturbed by an amount that depends on variations in the gravity field that we’re trying to measure. We see the change in velocity as a change in radio frequency, received at our ground…
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Biology

Uh oh. How come this map just released by NASA is glowing RED!!!

NASA just released this satellite image of an eerie red glow over the Midwestern and Eastern United States.  If your reaction was similar to Reeko’s (he threw on his hat and ran to the closet to grab his suitcase), you might think this is a bad thing.  It’s not.  As plants carry out photosynthesis, their chlorophyll also creates a very small amount of fluorescence, a type of radiation.  This radiation is invisible to our eyes but the superhumans at NASA however, have the technology to detect the fluorescence on satellite images and display on this map.  The brighter red areas show where greater amounts of photosynthesis have taken place from 2007 through 2011.
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Science Tips

Saturn – the greatest planet (except for Uranus which is easier to work into jokes)

Saturn is Reeko’s favorite planet (although Uranus, which makes great joke material, comes in a close 2nd).  Like Jupiter, Saturn is a large, gaseous planet composed mostly of the gases hydrogen and helium. Saturn has a magnetic field 1,000 times stronger than Earth's but not as strong as Jupiter's. Due to its gaseous nature, Saturn's density is so low that it could float in an ocean of water. It probably has a core similar to that of Jupiter. It is covered with cloud bands, some forming cyclonic patterns like Jupiter's, but the colors appear more subdued than do Jupiter's because of an atmospheric haze that covers the clouds. Saturn is surrounded by a spectacular ring system (see the picture above). Galileo observed these rings in…
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Science Tips

Astronauts

Astronaut is a person who pilots a spacecraft or works in space. In Russia and the other former Soviet republics, such people are called cosmonauts. Astronauts and cosmonauts operate spacecraft and space stations, launch and recapture satellites, and conduct engineering, medical, and scientific experiments in space. The word astronaut comes from Greek words that mean sailor among the stars. Cosmonaut means sailor of the universe. Most American astronauts work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). They live and train at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston (Reeko's been there!). On July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., became the first people to set foot on the moon. They landed the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle and…
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