It's a rare event when I post three space news compendiums in a row. In fact, I don't think I've ever done so before. Just the same, that's what I feel like doing, beginning with the featured story of last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (First of three supermoons) on Daily Kos, which comes from Science at NASA and Space.com.
ScienceCasts: A Summer of Super Moons
The summer of 2014 will be bathed in moonlight as three perigee "supermoons" occur in consecutive months: July, August, September.Supermoon Saturday: Supersized Full Moon Rises This Weekend
By Kelly Dickerson, Staff Writer
Get ready for a supersized moon. One of the biggest full moons of the year — a so-called "supermoon" — will light up the night sky on Saturday (July 12), but is only the first in a lunar triple-play this summer.Yes, one not-so-rare event inspired an even rarer one.
During this weekend's supermoon, the July full moon will appear about 30 percent brighter and 14 percent closer than a typical full moon. Last year, the full moon of June made headlines with its super luminosity. In 2014, skywatchers will see three supermoons this summer, one each during the back-to-back full moons in July, August and September.
Follow over the jump for the rest of the week's space and astronomy news.
NASA: Aquarius maps soil moisture on This Week @NASA
Data from NASA's Aquarius instrument has helped researchers create worldwide maps of soil moisture, showing how the wetness of the land fluctuates with the seasons and weather phenomena. Soil moisture, the water contained within soil particles, is an important player in Earth's water cycle. When it launched in June 2011, the primary science objective of the Aquarius mission was to study the salt content of ocean surface waters. But investigators have since developed a method to retrieve soil moisture data from the instrument's microwave radiometer. Also, SLS Core Preliminary Design Review, JWST update and Dry ice gullies on Mars.This week in science: dust in the cosmic wind By DarkSyde on Daily Kos has more general space and science news.
Now, stories from the farthest reaches of space to Earth's atmosphere, staring with Georgia Tech: Small, but plentiful: how the faintest galaxies illuminated the early universe, Posted July 7, 2014.
Light from tiny galaxies over 13 billion years ago played a larger role than previously thought in creating the conditions in the universe as we know it today, a new study has found. Ultraviolet (UV) light from stars in these faint dwarf galaxies helped strip interstellar hydrogen of electrons in a process called reionization.JPL/NASA: NEOWISE Spies Comet Pan-STARRS Against Galaxy Backdrop
The epoch of reionization began about 200 million years after the Big Bang and astrophysicists agree that it took about 800 million more for the entire universe to become reionized. It marked the last major phase transition of gas in the universe, and it remains ionized today.
Astrophysicists aren’t in agreement when it comes to determining which type of galaxies played major roles in this epoch. Most have focused on large galaxies. However, a new theory by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the San Diego Supercomputer Center indicates scientists should also focus on the smallest. The findings are reported in a paper published today in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
NASA's NEOWISE mission captured a series of infrared images of comet C/2012 K1 -- also referred to as comet Pan-STARRS -- as it swept across our skies in May 2014. This animation shows the progression of the comet across a field of stars -- and a more distant spiral galaxy, called NGC 3726, which appears as a blue oval.Discovery News: Did Aliens Create Saturn's Hexagon?
A vast hexagon is located at Saturn's north pole, and for years, it has sparked a number of conspiracy theories! Was it created by aliens, or is there a more realistic answer to this mystery? Dr. Ian O'Neill joins DNews this week to discuss a possible theory as to what created this hexagon.Space.com: Curiosity Rover on Mars Leaves Landing 'Safe Zone'
By Mike Wall, Senior Writer
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has entered a new realm on the Red Planet.Space.com: Did Huge Impact Shape Planet Mercury?
The 1-ton Curiosity rover has now cruised out of its landing ellipse, the area - about 4 miles wide by 12 miles long (7 by 20 kilometers) - regarded as safe ground for its August 2012 touchdown within Mars' huge Gale Crater, NASA officials said.
Indeed, a photo taken by the space agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on June 27 shows Curiosity right on this boundary, which encloses a region of relatively flat and smooth terrain.
By Jesse Emspak, Space.com Contributor
The mysterious makeup of the solar system's innermost planet may be due to a massive "hit and run" collision billions of years ago, a new study reports.Space.com: Australian Fireball Caused by Russian Space Junk (Video)
A colossal but glancing smashup with a roughly Earth-size planet could have stripped away much of proto-Mercury's rocky mantle, explaining why the tiny, sun-scorched world has such a huge iron core today, researchers say.
By Mike Wall, Senior Writer
The fireball that lit up skies over Australia Thursday night (July 10) was actually part of a Russian rocket falling back to Earth, according to media reports.That concludes the week's space and astronomy news. Next up, entertainment news, either the Emmy Awards nominees if I'm feeling ambitious, or some more links from Vox if I'm not.
Observers throughout southeastern Australia reported seeing a bright meteor streaking through the skies at about 9:45 p.m. local time on Thursday. Based on the timing and trajectory of the object, experts have concluded that the dazzling fireball captured on video was caused by a piece of a Russian rocket that launched Tuesday (July 8).