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NASA-Created Travel Posters For Real Exoplanets Make Us Want To Book A Trip

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If you’re a fan of GFR, there’s a good chance you grew up dreaming of leaving footprints in alien sand, watching a sun other than our own sink below a mysterious horizon. Even though the prospect of venturing beyond our homeworld still seems impossibly distant for most of us, it’s a dream that lingers. If you’re forever dreaming about posting #yolo from the crest of Olympus Mons, these lovely travel posters mocked up by NASA are only going to make things worse…because they represent exoplanets discovered by the Kepler telescope, real destinations that you could, if you happened to have a starship lying around, actually visit.

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Twice as big in volume as the Earth, HD 40307g straddles the line between ‘Super-Earth’ and ‘mini-Neptune’ and scientists aren’t sure if it has a rocky surface or one that’s buried beneath thick layers of gas and ice. One thing is certain though: at eight time the Earth’s mass, its gravitational pull is much, much stronger.

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Autonomous Helicopter Drones May Assist NASA’s Exploration Of Mars, Here’s How

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Mars HelicopterNASA’s rovers have provided a wealth of information about Mars over the years and continue to ramble on. Devices like Opportunity and Curiosity have been exploring the surface of the Red Planet for more than a decade now (Opportunity touched down 11 years ago yesterday), but for everything they’ve revealed to us, they’ve explored relatively little in the way of area. With potential manned missions to Mars ramping up, the space agency is looking to expand its efforts in this area, and to do so they’re considering taking to the sky.

The rugged surface and unforgiving terrain exact a hearty toll on the hardware on the ground and a hindrance to easy movement. To combat that, and provide a wider view, NASA is toying with the idea of autonomous drones to accompany future rovers. The Mars Helicopter could potentially be an addition to the future excursion, and could provide all kinds of useful functions.

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Curiosity Got Stuck In A Martian Sand Trap

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CuriosityIf you’re going to go through the effort of sending a mechanical explorer millions of miles across the galaxy, all the way to Mars, you better make damn sure it has the appropriate traction and can function in adverse conditions. NASA recently ran into just this problem with their Curiosity rover, which just got stuck in a sand trap, and no, it’s not the same kind of sand trap you hit your golf ball into last weekend. Curiosity has a job to do, it doesn’t have time to hit the links.

The one-ton rover is in the process of heading to Mount Sharp, which has been its ultimate destination all along, despite the meandering, roundabout route. At 3.4 miles high, the peak sits in the middle of Mars’ Gale Crater, and in order to access the site, Curiosity planned a path through the Hidden Valley (no salad dressing jokes please).

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Comic-Con 2014: 14 Things To Do And See On Wednesday & Thursday

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WedThursComic-Con 2014 is only a week away. Thousands of fans and professionals will descend on San Diego and bury it in a thick coating of nerd several feet deep. There’s really nothing else like it, but the more years pass, the more overwhelming the Con becomes. There’s so much going on, it’s a monumental task just to figure out which of the countless panels and events you want to try and see. Well, we’re here to make your life just a little bit easier. Over the next couple of days, we’ll run down all the panels that should be at the top of your to-do list. Today we’ll start off with the events for Wednesday — “Preview Night” — and Thursday.

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A Giant Asteroid Named The Beast Will Buzz Earth Tonight

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Armageddon-WalkIf you have a nickname like “the Beast,” there are one of two things in play. It could be an ironic moniker, and you are in no way beastly at all—like when I make fun of my 14-pound dog after she tries to take down a pair really confused Great Danes on a walk around the neighborhood. Or, it’s entirely possible that you bear some of the features people normally associate with beastliness, like you’re huge, angry, and parents cross the street, clutching their children close to them, when they see you on the sidewalk. The asteroid set to buzz past Earth today, June 8, falls into this second category, and has definitely earned the nickname beast.

The Beast, also known by the much less lyrical name 2014 HQ124, is roughly the size of city block, and has been dubbed a potentially hazardous asteroid because of how close to our planet it will come. Before you sprint out the door to round up Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck in order to save the day, there isn’t really much to worry about. Though the asteroid will come close to our planet, close is a relative term. The flying space rock will still be more than 770,000 miles from us, which, if you’re doing the math, is more than triple the distance between the Earth and the moon. We should be just fine, but on the off chance that we all wake up dead tomorrow, know that someone, somewhere made a miscalculation.

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CNN Publishes Hoax Article About Doomsday Asteroid

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AsteroidWe like to remain optimistic here at GFR. We like to think that, in spite of all the challenges facing our species, we will ultimately overcome those obstacles and find a way forward, together, even if that path is messy and full of false starts. But if we are doomed to be wiped out before we manage to leave the cradle, one of the most likely doomsday threats is a rogue asteroid smacking into our planet. It’s a very real threat, and there’s no telling whether we would be able to do anything about it even if we got plenty of advance warning. So, you can understand why some people might have been a little upset earlier this week when CNN published a story claiming that we had a 50% chance of being hit by a potentially civilization-ending asteroid in 2041. On March 35, 2041, to be precise.

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