Feb. 15, 2017

12: Pixies, Elves, and Sprites

12: Pixies, Elves, and Sprites

The Astronomy and Space Science News Podcast

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*Pixies, Elves, and Sprites seen from Space Station 

Pixies, Elves, Red Sprites, and Blue jets have been seen by the crew aboard the International Space Station. It wasn’t the result of some alcohol fuelled orbital bender but rather preparation for a new mission focusing on these mysterious rarely seen phenomena associated with upper atmosphere electrical discharges. 

*New questions about Martian Water 

New evidence about carbon dioxide levels on ancient Mars have raised fresh questions about how liquid water could have existed on the red planet’s surface billions of years ago. An analysis of samples -- taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover -- indicates Mars didn’t contain enough CO2 for liquid water to have existed in Gale Crater – despite clear geological evidence that it was there for long periods of time. 

*Earth’s oxygen levels increased when the planet became of snowball 

Oxygen levels on Earth increased dramatically after the planet was covered in massive ice sheets forming a snowball Earth hundreds of millions of years ago. The increase in atmospheric oxygen levels allowed the development of complex life forms which eventually led to us. 

*Neutron star missing link discovered 

A mystery object could be the long sort after missing link between rapidly spinning pulsars and high magnetic magnetars. The strange object appears to be in a transition phase between the two different types of neutron stars.  

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