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Latest Extraterrestrial atmospheres Stories

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2012-06-02 12:10:41

Intense UV radiation on the red planet releases methane from organic materials which meteorites transport onto its surface It was a sensation when scientists discovered methane in Mars´ atmosphere nine years ago. Many saw the presence of the gas as a clear indication of life on the inhospitable planet, as on Earth methane is produced predominantly by biological processes. Others assumed geological processes, such as volcanoes, to be the cause. What has been missing until now is...

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2011-04-22 06:05:00

New research shows that hostile conditions on Mars were much worse 600,000 years ago than they are today, with evidence suggesting the red planet once had a much dustier, stormier atmosphere. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) discovered that the total amount of atmosphere on Mars changes significantly as the tilt of the planet's axis varies.  The process can affect the stability of liquid water -- if it exists on the surface "“ and can also increase the frequency and...

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2010-08-10 08:15:00

Gaze up at a cloud-filled sky, and you may spot the white, fluffy shape of a dragon, fish or elephant. Looking at the same sky, Graeme Stephens sees a different vision -- a possible future for Earth's climate. Stephens, a professor at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, is principal investigator of NASA's CloudSat mission, launched in 2006 to improve our understanding of the role clouds play in our complicated climate system. Stephens says that as Earth's global temperature continues to...

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2010-06-03 14:14:34

Earth's thick organic haze 3 billion years ago likely similar to haze hovering over Saturn's moon Titan today A new study shows a thick organic haze that enshrouded early Earth several billion years ago may have been similar to the haze now hovering above Saturn's largest moon, Titan, and would have protected primordial life on the planet from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. The University of Colorado at Boulder scientists believe the haze was made up primarily of methane and...

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2010-02-04 13:40:00

NASA has released the most detailed and dramatic images ever taken of the distant dwarf planet Pluto. The images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope show an icy, mottled, dark molasses-colored world undergoing seasonal surface color and brightness changes. Pluto has become significantly redder, while its illuminated northern hemisphere is getting brighter. These changes are most likely consequences of surface ice melting on the sunlit pole and then refreezing on the other pole, as the dwarf...

2010-02-04 12:00:00

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA has released the most detailed and dramatic images ever taken of the distant dwarf planet Pluto. The images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope show an icy, mottled, dark molasses-colored world undergoing seasonal surface color and brightness changes. (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO) Pluto has become significantly redder, while its illuminated northern hemisphere is getting brighter. These changes are most...

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2009-03-02 11:48:22

Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have gained valuable new insights about the atmosphere of the dwarf planet Pluto. The scientists found unexpectedly large amounts of methane in the atmosphere, and also discovered that the atmosphere is hotter than the surface by about 40 degrees, although it still only reaches a frigid minus 180 degrees Celsius. These properties of Pluto's atmosphere may be due to the presence of pure methane patches or of a methane-rich layer covering the dwarf...

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2007-09-18 10:30:00

PASADENA, Calif. -- An international team of astronomers has discovered that Neptune's south pole is much hotter than the rest of the planet. They have published the first temperature maps of the lowest portion of Neptune's atmosphere, which show that this warm south pole is providing an avenue for methane to escape out of the deep atmosphere. "The temperatures are so high that methane gas, which should be frozen out in the upper part of Neptune's atmosphere, the stratosphere, can leak out...

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2007-05-07 09:25:00

An exciting new series of videos from ESA's Venus Express has been capturing atmospheric details of day and night areas simultaneously, at different altitudes. The south pole of the planet and its gigantic double vortex has been pictured as never before. The south pole of Venus and the double-eyed storm permanently rule atmospheric phenomena in that area of the planet. They are key to understanding the global atmospheric dynamics on Venus and will contribute to a better comprehension of the...

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2006-11-09 13:30:00

One year after its launch on November 9, 2005 and a few months into its science phase, ESA's Venus Express keeps working well and continues to gather lots of data about the hot and noxious atmosphere of the planet. Newly released images show additional details of the thick cloud deck that surrounds Venus. It was 11 April 2006 when, after a delicate manoeuvre, Venus Express entered into orbit around Venus, and started a series of gradually smaller loops around the planet to reach its...