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Mars-sized object orbiting extremely closely to an M-dwarf star has been validated using the Penn State Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF). The planet, which was originally classified as a false positive in an automated search of data collected by the Kepler space telescope, is about half the size of Earth and is so close to its host star that it orbits in less than 10 hours. If it were orbiting a star the size of our sun it would be skimming the star’s corona—the aura of exceedingly hot plasma.

Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter, along with solid, liquid, and gas. It is an ionized gas consisting of positive ions and free electrons. It was first described by chemist Irving Langmuir in the 1920s.

A team of researchers want to build robots out of ice and send them to space. The idea is that — lacking a local repair shop — the icy bots can use found materials to rebuild themselves.

Ice can be located all over the solar system, from the moon to the distant rings around Saturn. So researchers from the University of Pennsylvania are trying to figure out how to tap into that nearly unlimited resource for robotics.

NASA wants to send the robot dog, Spot, to space. The canine-bot can do many tricks — from herding sheep to helping the NYPD in a hostage situation — but it likely won’t be able to repair itself. Where could it find enough materials to do the job?

It’s really happening. After all the years of delays, reschedulings, budget shortfalls, and even more delays, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched on December 25 and is now successfully on its way to is destination at the second LaGrange point (L2), about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from Earth.

If you celebrate Christmas and are astronomically inclined, the launch feels like a true Christmas miracle.

The footage of JWST’s separation from the Ariane 5 rocket, as seen from a camera on the rocket’s second stage is just absolutely stunning.

Just two weeks after launching from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, NASA

Established in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. It’s vision is “To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.”

It was a big year. Fermilab discovered possible evidence of new physics with the muon G-2 experiment. Physicists created a time crystal, a new phase of matter that appears to violate one of nature’s most cherished laws. And we got a glimpse of an enormous pair of bubbles towering over the Milky Way. Read the articles in full at Quanta:

Quanta Magazine is an editorially independent publication supported by the Simons Foundation.

Time to have another go at reanimation?

Interview with James Lovelock 101 years old-scientist inventor.

I found an article that said “The microwave was invented to heat hamsters humanely in 1950s experiments.” And I thought, no it wasn’t…was it?

Pull down the description for thorough references and credits.

Thanks to James Lovelock for his time! His latest book is Novacene: [that is, of course, an Amazon affiliate link]

Filmed safely: — thanks to jabs, PCR tests, isolation and distancing.

I did consider whether to do an extended interview with Dr Lovelock, but the Science Museum has already done far better than I ever could:

On cyborgs, asteroids and Gaia theory:

On his greatest epiphany:

The hypothesis remains a bit of a stretch: that clouds in the planet’s thick, carbon dioxide-filled atmosphere could harbor lifeforms that also happen to be resistant to the incredibly caustic droplets of sulfuric acid surrounding them.

And indeed, other scientists have also thrown cold water on the hypothesis, calling out the possibility of a processing error that throws the data itself into question.

But now, a new study is giving new life to the tantalizing theory. Sulfuric acid, MIT scientists say, could be neutralized by the presence of ammonia, which astronomers also suspect to be present in the planet’s atmosphere thanks to the Venera 8 and Pioneer Venus probe missions in the 1970s.

NASA is launching a spacecraft destined to slam into an asteroid as part of its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission tonight, from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Its purpose: to test whether we’re capable of deflecting a killer asteroid before it strikes Earth.

But before it meets its final destination, NASA is using the spacecraft to test out brand new ion drive technology — and it’s straight out of a science fiction movie.

The space agency’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster-Commercial (NEXT-C) uses the spacecraft’s solar power to create an electrical field. This field then accelerates a xenon propellant to speeds of up to 90,000 mph, harnessing the resulting stream of “thousands of ion jets” as propulsion.

Astronauts on the International Space Station shared a festive message for people on Earth as they prepare to spend the holidays in orbit.

Expedition 66 crew members, including NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and Mark Vande Hei, ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, will be celebrating Christmas aboard the orbiting lab this year. The crew shared a special holiday message on Twitter, explaining what Christmas means to each of them and reflecting on childhood memories spent with family.