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“Zebra Stripes” Spotted In Space Around Earth

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The structure may help scientists identify radiation-remediation strategies in space. Since the early 1970s, orbiting satellites have picked up on noise-like plasma waves very close to the Earth’s magnetic field equator. This “equatorial noise,” as it was then named, seemed to be an unruly mess of electric and magnetic fields oscillating at different frequencies in

What cosmic rays tell us about thunderstorms on Earth

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When Prof. Heino Falcke started to study and identify the sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays, back in 2008, he could not imagine that his research would provide an important clue to better understand lightning and thunderclouds much closer to us. His team indeed realized that cosmic rays, originating in outer space and striking the

Three days countdown for MMS Launch

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On March 12, 2015, NASA plans to launch the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission. MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that will orbit around Earth through the dynamic magnetic system surrounding our planet to study a little-understood phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. The MMS mission is a Solar Terrestrial Probes mission comprising four identically instrumented

IMAGE and Cluster Missions Reveal Origin of Theta Auroras

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Auroras are the most visible manifestation of the sun's effect on Earth, but many aspects of these spectacular displays are still poorly understood. Thanks to the joint European Space Agency and NASA's Cluster mission combined with data from a past NASA mission called the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration, or IMAGE, a particular type of

Barrage of small impacts likely erased much of the Earth’s primordial atmosphere

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Today’s atmosphere likely bears little trace of its primordial self: Geochemical evidence suggests that Earth’s atmosphere may have been completely obliterated at least twice since its formation more than 4 billion years ago. However, it’s unclear what interplanetary forces could have driven such a dramatic loss. Now researchers at MIT, Hebrew University, and Caltech have