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See What It Looks Like to Land on Saturn's Largest Moon, Titan

In 2005, the European Space Agency's Huygens probe—which had been sent into space with its mothership, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, to learn more about Saturn and its moons—became the first spacecraft to land on an object in the outer solar system. That object was Titan, a hazy, planet-like moon of Saturn. Now, 12 years after the historic voyage, Mashable reports that NASA has released a video of Huygens's descent.

Huygens took samples of Titan’s atmosphere and captured hundreds of photos of the moon. These images revealed a new, alien world with rugged mountains, dramatic gorges, and dark drainage channels that were suggestive of liquid methane rivers.

“The Huygens images were everything our images from orbit were not,” planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, who worked as the Cassini imaging team lead at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said in a NASA press release. “Instead of hazy, sinuous features that we could only guess were streams and drainage channels, here was incontrovertible evidence that at some point in Titan's history—perhaps even now—there were flowing liquid hydrocarbons on the surface. Huygens's images became a Rosetta Stone for helping us interpret our subsequent findings on Titan."

The Huygens probe only transmitted data during its descent; after it landed on Titan, it went silent. The Cassini spacecraft has continued to explore Titan from above, capturing images of sand dunes and lakes of liquid methane and ethane. Cassini is currently in its final year of exploration; its mission is slated to end in September 2017.

In the video below, you can relive the Huygens probe's historic descent, from atmospheric entry to touchdown.

[h/t Mashable]

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This Giant Baking-Soda-and-Vinegar Volcano Tops Any Science Fair Project
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The baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano, an elementary school staple, has received a super-sized upgrade. As Atlas Obscura reports, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry revealed their 34-feet version of the classic science project in celebration of their new Pompeii exhibition.

The mountainous structure relied on the same chemical reaction as smaller artificial volcanoes, but this time the reaction was recreated on a much larger scale. After wrapping the three-story scaffolding with brown tarp, museum staff filled it with 66 gallons of vinegar and 50 gallons of baking soda, plus water and red food dye to create two geysers of pink liquid.

While it's still a fraction of the height of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano towers over anything you’d find in an elementary school science fair. After showing off the project in front of a crowd of 3000 people, the museum plans to submit its creation to the Guinness World Records committee for consideration.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Science Explains Why You're Not a Morning Person
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Can't get out of bed in the morning? Allow science to tell you why—and whether or not you can change that.

I’m awful in the mornings. Can science fix me?

Maybe not, but it can explain why you’re such a sleepyhead (which may or may not be of interest to your boss). “There are morning people and evening people,” says Sonia Ancoli-Israel, director of education at UC-San Diego’s Sleep Medicine Center. “We call them larks and owls.” Which one you are has to do with your circadian system.

How does my circadian system work?

A region of 20,000 nerve cells in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus keeps your body on schedule throughout the day, regulating everything from hormone levels to when you digest food. And, of course, when you feel sleepy.

How does that explain me?

Larks are “phase advanced,” meaning they feel tired early in the evening. Owls are “phase delayed”—a pattern most common in teens and young adults—and don’t feel tired until late at night.

Should I be concerned?

Larks do have a mental edge. In 2013, a study found that early and late risers have structurally different brains. Larks have more quality white matter, which helps nerve cells communicate.

Can I change that?

A little bit. Your circadian rhythm changes over your lifetime. Babies wake at dawn, while teenagers can’t get out of bed before noon. As adults age, mornings typically get easier. You can also hack your clock by sticking to a regimented sleep schedule and avoiding light before bed. Light receptors in the eye tell your brain when to call it a night.

Can I blame this on genetics?

You bet! In 2012, scientists discovered a single nucleotide near a gene called “Period 1” that determines whether you’re an owl, a lark, or in between.

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