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Pluto May Have A Subsurface Ocean, Saturn May Be Forming A New Moon

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pluto oceanSome of you might have woken up on April 1 to find that Pluto had been reinstated as a planet. Of course, it wasn’t true — neither was the rumor that Richard Branson bought Pluto, thank the stars. But here’s some information about Pluto that appears to be totally legit: astronomers now think it has a subsurface ocean.

A new study proposes that, after a massive object smashed into Pluto, creating its moon Charon, the heat released by the collision warmed up a region in Pluto’s interior, creating an ocean that may still be there and may actually exist in liquid form. It seems crazy to think that a planet so far from the sun could have liquid water, but come on, it’s the Cosmos — strange and crazy are its bailiwick.

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Mysterious Disease Turns Starfish Into Goo

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starfishMother Nature takes some of what she dishes out — while she unleashes monster typhoons, her creatures also take a beating. The latest to be ravaged are starfish, who have been dying in droves due to a mysterious disease.

I tend to think of starfish as virtually indestructible — I mean, you can pull off one of their legs and they’ll grow it back. But not if they contract a sea star wasting syndrome that is killing them off in record numbers. The disease causes the growth of white lesions on a starfish’s limbs, which soon after waste away to the extent that they turn into goo. Scientists don’t know what’s causing the disease or its spread. In 1983-1984, a starfish wasting disease killed off a bunch of the creatures, but in that case it was linked to global warming and El Nino. Given that it’s not an El Nino year, scientists this time think the culprit is a bacteria that can be transmitted between species, and that starfish with open wounds are particularly vulnerable. It sounds kind of like a flesh-eating bacteria for starfish, though it’s also possible that the disease is a result of a virus.

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New Exosuit Opens New Depths To Deep Sea Divers

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Exosuit

Anyone who has ever gone SCUBA diving knows that the deeper one goes, the more complications could potentially arise. Equalizing to the pressure becomes more difficult, the temperature plummets, and the rise back to the surface must be undertaken slowly and with caution. Even the deepest sea divers don’t exceed a depth of 1,000 feet (and even if they did, being able to actually function down there would be another story), and people like me with a basic open-water diving certification are technically only supposed to dive about 60 feet below the surface. The new Exosuit is poised to change that.

Well, it won’t change my depth limit, sadly, but it will likely change the depths at which real deep-sea divers can function. The Exosuit is more than just a suit — it’s an “atmospheric diving system,” which makes it sound more Jacques Cousteau and less Wall Street. It was designed by Nuytco Research, an undersea technology developer in North Vancouver. Nuytco’s best known devices are the 2000-foot microsubmersibles, which are single- and double-pilot submarines used for surveying, construction, and deep-sea photography. Basically, they’re undersea pod racers.