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Science News: Spot Perseid Meteors Before 'Supermoon' Rises This Weekend

Spot Perseid Meteors Before 'Supermoon' Rises This WeekendMany skywatchers love August because the ever-reliable Perseid meteor shower peaks mid-month, but unfortunately, this year's usually brilliant meteor display may be spoiled by a bright full moon. To make matters worse, the full moon rising Sunday (Aug. 10) will be brighter than it usually is because this full moon, called a "supermoon," will be the closest of 2014. Despite the bright, nearly full moon, stargazers should still be able to catch sight of some Perseid meteors.


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Science News: Watch NASA's 'Flying Saucer' for Mars Go Supersonic in Amazing Video

Watch NASA's 'Flying Saucer' for Mars Go Supersonic in Amazing VideoAn amazing new video from NASA shows the ups and downs of the first test of a flying saucer-shaped system that could one day help the space agency land huge spacecraft on Mars or other planets. NASA launched the flying saucer test flight from Hawaii at the end of June to demonstrate a so-called Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), an inflatable system to help huge vehicles slow down during offworld landings. The new video also gives a sharp view of the moment the LDSD's huge 100-foot-wide (30.5 meters) supersonic parachute ripped apart as it deployed when the craft was speeding at 2,500 mph (4,023 km/h). [NASA's Inflatable Flying Saucer for Mars Landings (Photos)] "Our test vehicle performed as advertised," Ian Clark, principal investigator for LDSD, said in a statement.


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Science News: Urthecast to Add More Earth-Watching HD Cameras to Space Station

Urthecast to Add More Earth-Watching HD Cameras to Space StationA company plans to place two new cameras on the outside of the International Space Station in a bid to provide more live views of Earth from space. "We can have these two things working in tandem, which I don’t believe has ever been done before," Urthecast CEO Scott Larson told Space.com. Urthecast has not yet disclosed the cost of the cameras. The Houston-based hardware developer will work with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) that manages science on the U.S. side of the station.


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Science News: How to See Europe's Last Space Station Cargo Ship in the Night Sky

How to See Europe's Last Space Station Cargo Ship in the Night SkyA robotic European cargo vessel is closing in on the International Space Station over the coming week, and skywatchers can follow the chase. The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) blasted off July 29 and is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting lab on Aug. 12. There will be a number of opportunities to see both the space station and the cargo ship streaking across the night sky, even for observers in brightly lit cities. ATV-5, which is named "Georges Lemaitre" after the Belgian astronomer and priest, is stocked with 7.3 tons of experiments, spare parts, clothing, food, fuel, air, oxygen and water for the space station's six-person crew.


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Science News: Pacific Storm Julio Unleashes Powerful 'Dark Lightning' Flash

Pacific Storm Julio Unleashes Powerful 'Dark Lightning' FlashBefore the Hawaii-bound storm Julio strengthened into a hurricane, a NASA satellite spotted a high-energy flash of "dark lightning" coming from the swirling clouds. NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is designed to detect the brightest explosions in the universe — gamma-rays emitted from sources like supermassive black holes or stars that go supernova. On Monday (Aug. 4) at 4:19 a.m. EDT (0819 GMT), when Julio was still a fledgling tropical storm hundreds of miles off the coast of Mexico, Fermi witnessed what's known as a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) above the clouds, according to NASA. "As far as I know, a TGF from a tropical storm has never been reported before," Michael Briggs, a member of the team in charge of Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GMB) at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said in a statement from NASA.


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