the daily what science Cocktail of the Day: Scientists Found a Comet With Sugar and Alcohol in It
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Scientists believe that comets are the leftovers of the beginning of our solar system. They look at comets to see if they can find any clues to how it was made. This comet, named Lovejoy, is unique because it is carrying ethyl alcohol (the kind you can drink), a simple sugar and 19 other organic types of molecules.

There's enough alcohol on that comet to fuel a giant party but scientists are excited for another reason. This comet seems to support a theory that some of the molecules on earth came from comets crashing on the surface. Scientists are hoping to find a comet with the same kind of organic molecules that allowed life to start on Earth.

Redditor color corrects photos from NASA's Apollo missions.
Via: jdreier
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The final frontier, now in full color.

NASA did a real solid the other day, when they uploaded thousands of pictures from the Apollo missions to Flickr. The beautiful collections show the breathtaking awe that exists in some of humankind's greatest technological achievements.

But one Redditor didn't think they looked quite right. I mean, the photos were taken 50 some odd years ago.

So jdreier decided to take a crack at color correcting a few of them. And the results are just stunning.

Well, the pictures are stunning anyway, but now they're more stunning.

He posted them to his Imgur page, where he described his efforts as such:

I took the liberty to color correct a few. Note, i've never been to space, so I don't know exactly how things look like out there. These are corrected purely on aesthetics.

And then later on his Reddit post, he made sure the astronauts got as much credit as possible.

The astronauts at NASA deserve all the credit for taking such amazing photos. I merely retouched a few photos while staying up late at night.

Thank you, sir. Your efforts are very appreciated.

New evidence points to liquid water on Mars.
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Well, Buzz Aldrin must be thirsty.

Though we've long known that Mars has ice, it was not yet strongly believed that liquid water could exist on the surface of the red planet. Well the newest evidence, released Sept. 28, points strongly to that possibility.

As reported by the New York Times:

In a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, Dr. McEwen and other scientists identified waterlogged molecules — salts of a type known as perchlorates — in readings from orbit.

"That's a direct detection of water in the form of hydration of salts," Dr. McEwen said. "There pretty much has to have been liquid water recently present to produce the hydrated salt."

Though young Mars was inundated by rivers, lakes and maybe even an ocean a few billion years ago, the modern moisture is modest. Scientists have long known that large amounts of water remain — but frozen solid in the polar ice caps. There have been fleeting hints of recent liquid water, like fresh-looking gullies, but none have proved convincing.

Liquid water on Mars has been theorized for a while, with many scientists pointing to dark streaks on the surface that would appear seasonally. This most recent evidence is validation for the theory that those streaks are rivers and streams of water.

So what does this mean?

Many things.

It might ease the burden when considering Martian colonization, helping to grow plants and and food on the surface. With that it could also mean possibly helping to oxidize the atmosphere, which is currently mostly made up of carbon dioxide.

And The Verge sees it as a promise for extraterrestrial life:

[T]hat strengthens the possibility of finding microbial life on the Red Planet. The presence of liquid water on Earth is intimately linked with the formation of life, so the odds are better than ever that extraterrestrial organisms are nearby in our Solar System.

This is mind-blowing, eye-popping news.

NASA released some simply amazing pictures of Pluto
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Surely you remember earlier this summer, when the New Horizons spacecraft zoomed past Pluto taking lots of pictures and showing us the cute little heart it wears.

Well, because those high resolution pictures aren't small, while the distance between us and that spacecraft is quite large, NASA only started releasing some of the first real close up shots Sept. 10.

And boy, are they breathtaking.

These are composite photos, pieced together from many smaller shots. And they show a staggering amount of geographical variety as NASA says in their accompanying press release:

New Horizons began its yearlong download of new images and other data over the Labor Day weekend. Images downlinked in the past few days have more than doubled the amount of Pluto's surface seen at resolutions as good as 400 meters (440 yards) per pixel. They reveal new features as diverse as possible dunes, nitrogen ice flows that apparently oozed out of mountainous regions onto plains, and even networks of valleys that may have been carved by material flowing over Pluto's surface. They also show large regions that display chaotically jumbled mountains reminiscent of disrupted terrains on Jupiter's icy moon Europa.

"The surface of Pluto is every bit as complex as that of Mars," said Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "The randomly jumbled mountains might be huge blocks of hard water ice floating within a vast, denser, softer deposit of frozen nitrogen within the region informally named Sputnik Planum."

And look at its dark side.

Additionally, if you want to see a really neat composite video of New Horizons journey through the end of our solar system, watch it here.

Buzz Aldrin forms a master plan to colonize mars by 2039
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Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon, has not been quiet about his desire to colonize Mars.

He has talked about it every chance he gets and pretty much only wears the one t-shirt.

Well, he has taken up with the Florida Institute of Technology to make colonization a reality. He signed off with the school on a 'master plan' Aug. 27, which he and the institute hope will provide a clear pathway for the country to get their asses to the red planet sometime in the next few decades.

According to The Guardian:

The 85-year-old Aldrin, who followed Neil Armstrong onto the moon's surface on 20 July 1969, will serve as a research professor of aeronautics as well as a senior faculty adviser for the institute.

He said he hopes his "master plan" is accepted by NASA and the country, with international input. NASA already is working on the spacecraft and rockets to get astronauts to Mars by the mid-2030s.

Aldrin is pushing for a Mars settlement by approximately 2040. More specifically, he's shooting for 2039, the 70th anniversary of his own Apollo 11 moon landing, although he admits the schedule is "adjustable".

One thing's for sure, he's definitely done with that crummy old moon.

Pluto's flyby gets a stunning video to go with it.
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Remember a month ago when we saw Pluto up close? The photographer New Horizons kept going and sending back beautiful pictures to Earth, but one person wanted to see it in motion.

Vimeo user Bjorn Jonsson went through the pain-staking effort of stitching together many photos sent back to us and released by NASA to create this sunning video of the view as the spacecraft flew past the edge of our solar system.

As Jonsson details in the video description:

he time covered is 09:35 to 13:35 (closest approach occurred near 11:50). Pluto's atmosphere is included and should be fairly realistic from about 10 seconds into the animation and to the end. Earlier it is largely just guesswork that can be improved in the future once all data has been downlinked from the spacecraft. Light from Pluto's satellite Charon illuminates Pluto's night side but is exaggerated here, in reality it would be only barely visible or not visible at all. The field of view is 12.5 degrees.

Just check out this beautiful experience.

With something like that, who cares if it's labeled as a full planet or not?

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Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took their first big bite out into the future of space habitation Aug. 10.

Crew members harvested some of the red romaine lettuce that had been growing in the in the Veggie laboratory and ate it with a celebratory flair. This marked the first time astronauts ate food completely grown in space.

The evolution of this first bite for humans, giant feast for humankind, could pave the way towards longer term space exploration, longer term habitation and even helps move us forward to colonization.

But growin' ain't easy, as NASA told Daily Dot:

There are significant challenges to growing vegetables in space. Without gravity, plants rely on other signals to know which direction to grow, like the presence of light and water. NASA project manager Trent Smith, who's part of the team that designed Veggie, explained how ISS's plant-growth system works to the Daily Dot: "[T]he LED lights in Veggie signal the shoots to grow towards the light and roots towards the water and darkness of the plant pillows. ... Roots need both water and air at the same time, and getting that mix right is extremely challenging."

Since NASA hasn't figured out how to get astronauts to cook in space yet, what with the completely closed off, entirely regulated environment, they'll just keep having to grow fresh veggies in their search for sustenance. Future experiments will try to grow leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, and herbs.

Onwards and upwards while trying to fill the cupboards!

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