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Astronomers have discovered comets.
Although Astronomers have discovered plenty of comets, they've always thought it was just a fraction (less than 3%) of the number of comets out there - and one of them might have our names on it. Fortunately, this scenario doesn't seem so likely, according to new research from scientists at the Australian National University, Astronomers have probably found more like 20% of comets. That means that small comets, capable of destroying a city, probably only hit the Earth once every 40 million years, and big continent-busting comets probably only hit us once every 150 million years.
The Hubble Space Telescope used its Advanced Camera for Surveys to capture this beautiful photograph of the Boomerang Nebula. This cloud of dust and gas has two nearly symmetric cones of material coming out of it. It was created through a process called bipolar outflow, where a dying star ejects material as it spins. It could be that the star is surrounded by a disk of dust, so only the top and bottom material can escape, or a powerful magnetic field is shaping it as it escapes.
Down here on Earth we're protected by our planet's magnetic field from harmful radiation, but out in space, it gets a lot more dangerous. One particularly dangerous region are the Earth's Van Allen belts which astronauts have to pass through to get to the Moon and beyond. Researchers working in Antarctica have observed two rare space storms which drained electrons out of the Van Allen belt, and reformed it closer to Earth in a region that was thought to be free of radiation. This research will help scientists predict what kinds of solar storms will move this radiation around, and give astronauts time to prepare if they're caught in the open.
An unpiloted Progress cargo ship docked to the Zvezda module of the International Space Station on Saturday, delivering supplies to the crew of Expedition 11. The supplies include food, water, fuel, oxygen, air, clothing and experimental hardware. Also on board are spare parts for the Russian Vozdukh carbon dioxide removal system and the Elektron oxygen generator. The Astronaut will try and repair the Elektron next week to bring it back into service.
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