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Mass extinction happened millions of years ago.
The biggest mass extinction in the Earth's history happened approximately 250 million years ago. During the "Great Dying", more than 90% of creatures in the ocean, and 75% of life on land went extinct. What caused the extinction is still up for debate, but a researcher from the University of Washington thinks that low levels of oxygen in the atmosphere sure didn't help. Oxygen went down to 12% (currently it's 21%), and this made standing at sea level the same as being atop a 5,300 metre mountain (17,000 feet).
Now firmly in orbit, the European Space Agency's SMART-1 is seeking out a spot at the Moon's north pole that could be bathed in constant sunlight. scientists are predicting that there's a spot, a few square kilometres in size across that is constantly heated by the sun, and would be the perfect spot for a lunar base. Finding the area is difficult, though, because we don't get a good view from Earth, and the shadows in this region are very long and can obscure the details.
NASA's Opportunity rover has lost the ability to steer its right-front wheel, making it more difficult for controllers to maneuver it around on the surface of Mars. The problem happened on April 13 (sol 433) when the rover was executing a turn - its wheel stuck at a slight angle. The rover has continued to travel since the problem happened, and can make observations, but it's more difficult to make precise movements.
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory spent 150 hours examining supernova remnant G21.5-0.9, revealing a beautiful ghostly shell. The shell is created by the shockwave of particles ejected by the supernova explosion as they slam into material that was sloughed off earlier by the star. This shockwave heats the surrounding material to millions of degrees causing it to blaze in the X-ray spectrum visible to Chandra. The star that produced this explosion was probably 10 times larger than the Sun.
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