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University of Arizona surface of Titan.
Scientists from the University of Arizona think they have an explanation for a strange bright spot on the surface of Titan. It originally wasn't clear whether this crescent-shaped feature was a mountain, cloud, or even a geological hotspot. By comparing observations of the region in both visible wavelengths and microwave radiometry, the scientists were able to rule out hotspots. It hasn't moved for years, so it's probably not a cloud. They currently think this region must be a bright patch with a different composition to the surrounding areas.
This amazing image is of a Sunspot three times the size of the Earth. The photograph was taken using the National Science Foundation's Dunn Solar telescope at Sunspot, NM, which was recently upgraded with an adaptive optics system. The Dunn telescope has a flexible mirror which can be deformed 130 times a second to compensate for atmospheric distortion. This image was made with 80 individual photographs combined together.
NASA engineers tested out a prototype unmanned sailplane this week at the Dryden Flight Research Center in California. This robotic aircraft is capable of detecting and using rising air thermals, similar to a glider or bird, to gain altitude. It launched from the ground, and navigated to a likely location for updrafts. Once it found a thermal, it turned off its engine and circled to stay within the updraft. NASA hopes to develop techniques for using thermals that could extend the range of unmanned aerial vehicles that often have very limited fuel.
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