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Jupiter

  1. Live Stream of the Juno Spacecraft Launch

    NASA is sending off the Juno spacecraft today on a mission to study the origin of Jupiter. From NASA:

    Juno is slated to blast off atop an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket at 11:34 a.m. EDT (1534 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of acceptable weather conditions for a Friday launch, NASA officials said, even though Tropical Storm Emily is making its way toward Florida's Space Coast.

    According to the countdown clock, the launch is happening a little earlier than projected, but never fear, you can watch a live stream of the launch right here.

    (via NASA)

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  2. NASA To Launch LEGO Figurines Into Space

    NASA will launch LEGO figurines into space, for science! Well, maybe not for science. Mostly just because people who work at NASA enjoy LEGOs. NASA will launch theĀ Atlas V rocket this Friday, containing the space probe Juno. Juno is being sent to Jupiter, with three little LEGO stowaways. The probe will have three LEGO figurines attached to it in the likenesses of the Roman gods Juno and Jupiter (of course), and the Italian astronomer Galileo. The figurines are made from aluminum instead of the standard LEGO plastic, and cost approximately $5,000 each, which is being paid for by LEGO. The idea to put the figurines on the probe was conceived of by NASA scientists who are big LEGO fans, and approached the company about sending the figures into space. According to LEGO, putting the figurines on the probe is a way to promote children's interest in the STEM programs.

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  3. “Orphan Planets” Without Solar Systems May Be More Numerous Than Stars

    While we tend to think of planets as orbiting stars, as in our own solar system, according to a recent survey of the Milky Way galaxy, the findings of which were published in the latest issue of Nature [paywalled], the universe may be abundant with rogue planets that drift alone through space, with no central star. The astronomers behind the survey discovered ten so-called "orphan planets" roughly the size of Jupiter at the heart of the Milky Way. But what's more interesting than the planets they discovered are the implications of their discovery: As the planets were discovered within a relatively small swath of the galaxy, it's likely, based on their 'population density,' that free-floating planets outnumber the stars.

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  4. A Living Planet: Avalanches on Mars

    We usually think of the other planets in our solar system as relatively peaceful, unchanging. It's sort of a "tree falls in the forest" situation. If there's no life, how active can they really be? The storm on Jupiter is a swirling maelstrom, sure, but it's a swirling maelstrom that's been around for over two hundred years.

    And yet... spring is approaching the northern hemisphere of Mars, thawing the carbon dioxide ice that's built up along cliff faces. And when you get thawing ice on cliff faces, you also get...

    Avalanches.

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