Space X Ready for Orbit

Space pioneer Elon Musk hopes to put his name in the history books once again next week, with the planned launch and recovery of the first commercially-operated spacecraft from orbit.

In June, SpaceX, as the company is known, launched its 18-story Falcon 9 rocket and successfully flew it for more than nine minutes. It was the first privately funded U.S. rocket launch in decades. However, this week's scheduled mission to launch and return an unmanned, reusable Dragon capsule from low-earth orbit, anticipated to last for hours, poses many more challenges. Placing the vehicle into a such an orbit at speeds exceeding 17,000 miles per hour, then maneuvering through a fiery reentry and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean will require a flawless trajectory, a reliable heat shield and finally, perfect operation of the redundant parachutes, according to space experts.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
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We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

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New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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