Jupiter May Have Been Hit by a Massive Proto-Planet Long Ago

Posted on Categories Discover Magazine

A massive planet slamming into Jupiter in its infancy could create the fuzzy core that astronomers observe in the gas giant today. (Credit: K. Suda & Y. Akimoto/Mabuchi Design Office/Astrobiology Center, Japan) In 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter with the goal of peering through Jupiter’s dense clouds to reveal the giant planet’s inner secrets. Along with the stunning pictures Juno has sent back, it’s also used its instruments to gaze deep into Jupit ...read more

Scientists Just Solved a Mystery of How Gallstones Form

Posted on Categories Discover Magazine

A large gallstone. (Credit: eleonimages/Shutterstock) Up to 25 million Americans suffer from gallstones. The unwanted pebbles form in the gallbladder and can grow to be as large as a golf ball. They can block bile ducts and cause severe abdominal pain, infection and even death. For decades, doctors have known they appear when excess cholesterol and calcium salts accumulate in the bile — a yellowish-brown liquid that helps the small intestine break down lipids. What holds the particl ...read more

ExoMars Fails Another Parachute Test, Threatening 2020 Mission

Posted on Categories Discover Magazine

Most Mars landers or rovers use parachutes as part of their landing procedure, but Mars’ thin atmosphere makes even this low-tech approach a perilous one. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab) ExoMars is a planned mission to Mars set to launch in the summer of 2020. But a recent series of parachute test failures may threaten that launch date. ExoMars is being built by a joint operation between the European and Russian space agencies (ESA and Roscosmos). It was designed as a two-part mission, t ...read more

NASA’s Air Traffic Control System for Drones Nearing Completion

Posted on Categories Discover Magazine

Increasing numbers of drones in urban areas means air traffic control is needed. (Credit: Volodymyr Goinyk/Shutterstock) Highways in the sky are one step closer to becoming reality as NASA conducts the final planned tests of its traffic management system for unmanned drones in Corpus Christi, Texas this week. The system would act like air traffic control for drones, tracking them to help avoid collisions and ensure smooth flight paths. Testing the cloud-based system’s capabilities in ...read more

An Atmospheric Drought Is Slowing Plant Growth Worldwide, Study Says

Posted on Categories Discover Magazine

Less moisture in the atmosphere means plants grow more slowly. (Credit: OhEngine/Shutterstock) Water shortage troubles are common in the arid West and South Africa. But they’re not the only places enduring dry spells. In a new study today, scientists say the atmosphere itself is suffering from a major drought. The lack of moisture in the air is sucking water from dirt and plants, leading to reduced crop yields and impaired plant growth worldwide, and likely adding to global warming. ...read more

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