'Ghost' dwarf galaxy found hiding at the edge of the Milky Way

An international team of astronomers can’t fully explain the “ghost” galaxy that they discovered about 130,000 light-years from the edge of the Milky Way.This galaxy, named Antlia 2 (or Ant 2), is described as a “ghost” because of how strangely dim it is . Ant 2 is rather large for a dwarf galaxy – it’s about the same size as the 7,000 light-year-wide Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), which is the Milky Way’s largest satellite galaxy. Yet it’s 10,000 times fainter than the LMC. So Ant 2 gives off ve

Rainfall in the Atacama Desert spells death for microbes

The rain fell in the Atacama Desert in Chile for the first time in hundreds of years, and it caused a mass extinction.It might seem natural to think that such rains would be followed by blooming flowers and new life. But, an international team of planetary astrobiologists found, this precipitation killed most of the microbial life in the region.“When the rains came to the Atacama, we were hoping for majestic blooms and deserts springing to life. Instead, we learned the contrary, as we found that

Pluto’s strange ridges formed from ancient glaciers

The maps and images revealed two different types of ridges bordering Sputnik Planitia: washboard and fluted. Washboard ridges exist in flat areas like valley floors and basins. Fluted ridges, however, exist in steeper areas like the crater walls that separate basins and valleys. These fluted and washboard ridges also coincide with a major tectonic system at the edge of Sputnik Planitia.In piecing together the ridges’ history, the researchers found that their formative events happened about 4 bil

'Science Fair' Documentary Showcases the Real-Life Genius of Teenage Scientists

In science fairs all over the world, students dream big and work hard, hoping to impress with their creative hypotheses. In National Geographic Documentary Films' "Science Fair," filmmakers Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster showcase the journeys of nine young scientists striving to win big at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Los Angeles. In the film, students from around the globe are shown working on the projects they will present at ISEF. The documentary tracks a v

This Pride, Be Inspired by Sally Ride's Legacy

Seen on board the space shuttle Challenger, astronaut Sally Ride became the first U.S. woman in space on June 18, 1983. Sally Ride, the United States' first woman in space, who flew 35 years today (June 18), in 1983, has inspired countless people, as she lived a life committed to science, education and inclusion. And while she only "came out" publicly as a member of the LGBTQ community in her obituary, written by Tam O'Shaughnessy, Ride's surviving partner of 27 years, Ride is still the first

Why You Need to Go to a Rocket Launch This Summer

It turns out you can just go to a rocket launch — and, after attending my first, I can say with certainty that everyone should watch a rocket launch at least once in their life. On Monday (May 21), Orbital ATK's Antares rocket launched a Cygnus spacecraft full of supplies and scientific equipment to the International Space Station from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This mission, OA-9, which followed the November launch of OA-8, sent up clothi

Here's What Sophia, the First Robot Citizen, Thinks About Gender and Consciousness

In a video that's as unsettling as it is awe-inspiring, Sophia — the world's first robot citizen — breaks down everything from gender to ethical robot design. Sophia spoke last month at a festival of the future called Brain Bar in Budapest, Hungary. Since Sophia was activated in April 2015, she has appeared publicly to speak about women's rights issues, her own citizenship and other topics. The android made big news in October 2017, when she was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia at the tech s

Brrr! Earth-Like Alien Planets Could Experience 'Snowball States'

A NASA artist visualized what Earth would look like if it entered the "snowball state" predicted by new research from the University of Washington. Earth-like planets with severe tilts and orbits could enter abrupt "snowball states," in which entire oceans freeze and surface life cannot survive, according to new research. Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have found a new reason why, just because a planet is located in a "habitable zone" — meaning it's close enough to its host s

What will future space robots look like?

The Star Wars saga is peppered with adorable space robots. NASA engineer W. Kris Verdeyen thinks that future space bots will have the capabilities of droids like BB-8, with humanoid frames like C-3PO. Astronauts need a lot of help from robots. Whether it’s the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) or future recruits on missions exploring the depths of the Solar System, robots help us to complete tasks beyond our human capabilities. But what type of robots are best suited for these c

Hazy experiments could teach us about alien life

Haze has prevented scientists from exploring exoplanets for a long time. To better understand exoplanet atmosphere, scientists conducted the first-ever lab experiment on haze formation in a simulated environment. We know of many planets orbiting outside the solar system that, according to scientists, could potentially hold the ingredients responsible for life. However, they are often so far away we can’t glean much information from them. One way to bypass the problem is to simulate the atmosphe

It's really hard to give AI "common sense"

In humans, common sense is relatively easy to identify, albeit a bit difficult to define. Get in line at the end of it? That’s common sense. Grab the red-hot end of a metal poker that was in the fire moments before? Not so much. How do we teach something as nebulous as common sense to artificial intelligence (AI)? Many researchers have tried to do so and failed. But that might soon change. Now, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is joining their ranks. Allen is investing an additional $125 milli
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