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The Moon formed when a Mars-sized Planet smashed into the Earth.


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The Moon.
The Moon formed when a Mars-sized Planet smashed into the Earth.

View of the Universe... from the Moon.

The Hubble Space Telescope has unquestionably shown the benefits of a space-based observatory, but having a telescope far from Earth offers the current conundrum of how to maintain such a facility. Since NASA’s Vision for Space exploration is seemingly leading humans back to the moon, why not construct an observatory there? A group of scientists from the U.S. and Canada are exploring the option of building a Deep-Field Infrared Observatory in one of the moon’s polar craters. Although not quite a garden spot, this location would provide an excellent site for a very large and very unique spinning liquid mirror telescope.

Pluto and Charon Could Have Formed Together.

Many scientists feel that there's compelling evidence that the Moon formed when a Mars-sized planet smashed into the Earth, throwing out a hail of debris that eventually collected into our satellite. Now researchers from the Southwest Research Institute have developed a simulation that shows how Pluto and its Moon Charon could have formed in a similar way. Two objects about 2,000 km across might have collided billions of years ago, producing Pluto, and smaller Charon orbiting it. Astronomers now believe that the early solar system was a dynamic place, with collision after collision violently building up the planets.

Keep an Eye on the Weather in Space.

If you're going to head into space, make sure you check the weather forecast - the space weather forecast. Just a week ago, a large Sunspot blasted out an X-class solar flare, and sent a highly energetic cloud of protons our way. The Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field protect us on the planet, but it could be an emergency for people on the Moon. The Moon is totally exposed to solar flares, and an Astronaut outside would have gotten very ill from radiation sickness. Future Moon explorers will watch the Sun's behaviour carefully, probably staying indoors and behind shielding while big sunspots are pointed our way.

Biggest Stars Make the Biggest Magnets.

Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have found evidence that the big stars become extremely powerful magnets when they die. They used the Australia telescope Compact Array and Parkes radio telescope in eastern Australia to watch a powerful magnetar - an exotic neutron star with a magnetic field one quadrillion times more powerful than the Earth's field, which releases X-rays and gamma radiation. They found clues in the surrounding nebula that indicate that the magnetar used to be a star with 30-40 times the mass of the Sun. Larger stars spin faster when they become neutron stars (500-1000 times a second), and this generates a powerful dynamo that boosts the magnetic field.

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