LAGEOS I, 1976
May 6th, 2013
11:26 AM ET

LAGEOS I, 1976

"The LAGEOS I, Laser Geodynamics Satellite, was launched on May 4, 1976 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The two-foot diameter, 900-pound satellite orbited the Earth from pole to pole and measured the movements of the Earth's surface relative to earthquakes, continental drift, and other geophysical phenomena.

The mirrored surface of the satellite precisely reflected laser beams from ground stations for accurate ranging measurements. Scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. came up with the idea for the satellite and built it at the Marshall Center."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
Why gamma-ray burst shocked scientists
An X-ray telescope image of GRB130427A.
May 6th, 2013
10:50 AM ET

Why gamma-ray burst shocked scientists

By Meg Urry, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Meg Urry is the Israel Munson professor of physics and astronomy and chairwoman of the department of physics at Yale University, where she is the director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics

On April 27, NASA's Fermi and Swift satellites detected a strong signal from the brightest gamma-ray burst in decades. Because this was relatively close, it was thousands of times brighter than the typical gamma-ray bursts that are seen by Swift every few days. Scientists are now scrambling to learn more.

We already knew that when the biggest stars run out of fuel, they don't fade quietly away. Instead, they explode in a blaze of glory known as a supernova. These stellar explosions are often bright enough to be seen by us even though they are in galaxies billions of light-years from our own Milky Way galaxy home.

In very rare cases - such as GRB130427A (tagged with the date of its discovery) - astrophysicists are lucky enough to see energetic gamma-rays from hyperfast jets of outflowing material consisting of charged particles created during a massive star's violent death throes.

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Filed under: In Space
May 6th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

They’re baaack! Bugs emerge after 17 years

By Jacque Wilson, CNN

They emerge from the ground after 17 years, their worm-like bodies creating hundreds of peanut-sized holes near the base of your tree. As they begin to climb, their dark brown skin starts to shed. Two beady red eyes appear.

By the time they reach a steady branch their transparent wings have stretched, opened and closed. Within an hour their white bodies will turn black.

Soon the males will start to sing.

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Filed under: On Earth

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