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As the Earth rushes to the point in its orbit.
As the Earth rushes to the point in its orbit known as the Winter Solstice, those in the Northern hemisphere see the days getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. This is good news for sky watchers, especially those willing to rise before dawn. This November offers a chance to witness a beautiful and somewhat rare sight, a close conjunction between the planets Venus and Jupiter.
Researchers from the University of Michigan have recently published their findings about methane in the Martian atmosphere. The methane was discovered using the planetary Fourier spectrometer, which is one of seven instruments on board the ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, which was launched to Mars in 2003. The spectrometer has detected methane at an average of 10 parts per billion by volume; a very small amount compared to 1700 ppbv found here on Earth. Earth-based methane is created almost entirely by life, so the researchers hope that the same process is happening on Mars.
Researchers from the European Space Agency are considering ways that astronauts could hibernate on the 6-9 month trip to Mars, consuming significantly less food, air and water. The researchers have been studying mammals which hibernate, and it turns out, they do their tricks in different ways. A dormouse goes into a deep sleep; its temperature drops nearly to zero, and its metabolism is dramatically suppressed. A brown bear hibernates at almost its regular temperature, and slows its heart rate slightly, but it still doesn't need to eat or drink for 3-7 months. A chemical called DADLE has been able to induce a hibernation-like slowdown in rats.
This image of Titan was taken when Cassini reached the closest point of its flyby on October 26. At this point, it was only 1,600 km (994 miles) above the surface of Titan. The brighter areas are thought to be rougher terrain on the surface, while the darker areas are probably smoother; the interconnected dark spots could be lakes.
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