Science Channel - InSCIder

19 Aug

America, The Beautiful Revealed In Breathtaking Timelapse of Milky Way, Northern Lights

When you live in a city, it can be hard to remember that the brightest lights aren't downtown -- they're right above you.

Photographer Randy Halverson breathtaking timelapse video, shot in some of the most remote parts of America, reveal the incredible astral show happening in the sky, from the glorious Milky Way to the rumbling of thunderstorms.

Wednesday night on How the Universe Works, dive deep inside the Milky Way for a closer look at the galaxy we call home. Here's a sneak peek at tomorrow night's episode: "Did a black hole create the Milky Way?"

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18 Aug

This Is For Everyone Who Asks, "Why Aren't There Stars When Astronauts Take Photos From Space?"

We get this question a lot when we share astronauts' pictures on social media: "Why can't you see any stars in the photos astronauts take from space?"

The fact that there are no visible stars in photos and videos from the moon landing has also fueled some conspiracy theorists' suspicions, though NASA scientists explain that "the camera was unable to capture the light emitted from the stars because the bright sunlight hitting the moon's surface washes out the light from the stars."

That same bright light is the reason many astronauts' photos from the International Space Station appear to show space as pitch black and void of stars, write experts at

"The reason why no or very little stars can be seen is because of the Earth. The Earth, when lit by the Sun, is many thousands times brighter than the stars around it. As a result the Earth is so bright that it swamps out most if not all of the stars."

"The reason that the stars do not show up on the film is that the stars are so dim that the camera cannot gather enough of their light in a short exposure. Our eyes are a lot more sensitive to light than photographic film."

So American astronaut Reid Wiseman's latest space snapshot, taken with a longer exposure, shows that, yes, of course there are stars in space:

Question: Why aren't stars extinct?


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15 Aug

5 Fun Shark Videos For Your Friday Viewing Pleasure

In honor of Shark Week, here are five favorite shark videos that we've shared on SCI2. Head over to SCI2 to see more incredible science videos from around the Internet.

Great White Shark Poops Underwater, Delights Divers

Shark Spits Water Into Man's Mouth

Dolphins Save Swimmer From Nearby Shark

6 Animals More Dangerous Than Sharks

Face-to-Face With Sharks

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13 Aug

Commercial Spacecraft Prepare to Mine the Moon

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

-President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962

More than 50 years after President Kennedy's famous moon speech, his words continue to inspire. Now a new generation prepares to heed the president's call and aim for the lunar surface, not for human exploration but to mine the moon for its precious minerals.

Among the rare earth elements found on the moon are titanium, magnesium and iron; there's also helium-3, which "could provide safer nuclear energy in a fusion reactor, since it is not radioactive and would not produce dangerous waste products."

Silicon Valley titans like Google are looking toward the lunar surface and offering scientists prizes "designed to inspire pioneers to do robotic space transport on a budget."

Is this the start of a new space race?

Tonight at 10/9c, Science Channel's three-part special Man vs. The Universe looks at commercial spacecraft preparing to mine the moon and the benefits these groups hope to reap. Here's a sneak peek:

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12 Aug

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight; Here's How to Watch

Make a pot of coffee and grab your telescope -- it's going to be a late night.

Thirty to 40 meteors an hour will be visible during the annual Perseid meteor shower, which peaks tonight (technically, early in the morning of August 13).

This recent Supermoon may mean less visibility than typical during the Perseids, as "this year’s lunar glow creates so much light that the smaller shooting stars become invisible and the bright ones – at best – hard to see."

If you want to see the star show, get away from city lights to a dark, cloud-free area, recommends.

"NASA recommends lying flat on your back with your feet facing northeast and look up. It will take roughly 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust and be able to catch a glimpse of the meteors."

NASA's Perseid visibility map shows the Northern Hemisphere will have the best visibility between 3 and 4 a.m. local time.

Too cloudy to observe the Perseid meteor shower where you live? NASA will host a live chat and Ustream video on its website during the event.

Why do shooting stars burn? How hot are meteors? Find out here:

While you're waiting for the Perseids to peak, tune in to an all-new The Unexplained Files TONIGHT at 10/9c on Science Channel. Here's a sneak peek at tonight's episode:

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11 Aug

This Is What The Supermoon's 'Moonset' Looks Like From Space

Amid all the photos of this weekend's supermoon -- the biggest and brightest of 2014 -- one set of snapshots stands out: images of the supermoon setting behind the Earth taken from the International Space Station by Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev.

Artemyev shared the jaw-dropping photos on Twitter and in a blog post with the understated title, "Full moon. Lunar orbit sunset (photo)."

Sunday night's massive moon was 14 percent closer to Earth and 30 percent brighter than other full moons of the year, NASA tweeted.

Lunar lovers, here's a Moon 101 primer:

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7 Aug

Giant Penguins Roamed Antarctica 40 Million Years Ago

A long time ago in a galaxy not-so-far away, massive penguins roamed wild.

The time: 37 to 40 million years ago.

The place: Antarctica.

New fossil evidence reveals that these now-extinct penguins stood more than six feet tall and weighed around 250 pounds. Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, dubbed the "colossus penguin," was far larger than today's biggest penguin, the Emperor penguin, which can grow to heights of about 3.7 feet.

Our friends at SourceFed break it down:

Modern penguins may be much smaller than their ancient ancestors, but their will to survive and thrive is extraordinary:

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6 Aug

After 10 Years And 4 Billion Miles, Rosetta Space Probe Reaches Comet 67P

"We're in orbit!"

"Hello, Comet!"

With those words, the European Space Agency confirmed that Rosetta had reached its destination after a 10-year, four-billion-mile journey.

The Rosetta space probe arrived at comet 67P at 09:02:29 UTC Wednesday morning, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a comet.

"After ten years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometres, we are delighted to announce finally 'we are here,'" ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said in a statement.

"Europe’s Rosetta is now the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet, a major highlight in exploring our origins. Discoveries can start."

Now that Rosetta is in orbit, it could help scientists on Earth collect vital information about the source of life itself:

"Comets are believed by astrophysicists to be ancient ice and dust left from the building of the Solar System around 4.6 billion years ago. This cosmic rubble is the oldest, least touched material in our stellar neighborhood.

Understanding its chemical ID and physical composition will give insights into how the planets coalesced after the Sun flared into light, it is hoped.

It could also determine the fate of a theory called "pan-spermia," which suggests comets, by smashing into the infant Earth, sowed our home with water and precious organic molecules, providing us with a kickstart for life."

On November 11, 2014, Rosetta's Philae lander is scheduled to touch down on comet 67P.

Love learning about outer space? Tune in for a new episode of How the Universe Works TONIGHT at 10/9c on Science Channel. Here's a sneak peek at tonight's episode:

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5 Aug

Two Years Ago Today, NASA's Curiosity Rover Landed On Mars

Two years ago today, at 10:32 p.m. PDT, NASA successfully landed its Curiosity rover on Mars. At the time, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden heralded the landing as "an amazing achievement."

"Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars -- or if the planet can sustain life in the future."


After landing safely, Curiosity sent its first tweet (and photo!) back to Earth:

In just a few years, the Mars 2020 rover will take Red Planet exploration to the next level as it brings high-tech tools -- like the science fiction-esque ability to make oxygen in a carbon dioxide atmosphere -- to space.

Relive the drama of the Mars landing:

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4 Aug

Mars 2020 Rover Takes Red Planet Research To The Next Level

NASA's next generation Mars rover will feature some fancy new instruments to take Red Planet to greater heights.

The Mars 2020 Rover will carry seven new high-tech tools, it was announced Thursday; these instruments were selected from 58 proposals submitted to NASA.

Among the tools is MOXIE (Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment), a machine that will generate oxygen from the carbon dioxide found in Mars' atmosphere.

"It's extremely useful for future production of rocket fuel, or for when humans explore Mars," Mars Exploration Project lead scientist Michael Meyer told Gizmodo. "It's a real step forward in helping future human exploration of Mars, being able to produce oxygen on the surface of Mars."

Mars_2020_roverOther instruments include ground-penetrating radar and Mastcam-Z, "an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom."

After sending a congratulatory tweet to the Mars 2020 team, NASA's current Mars rover, Curiosity, checked in Friday from Hidden Valley:

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Image Credit: NASA

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