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 ice berg

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Engineer to model sunshine deflection for cooling planet

Global warming reduction may someday get a cool new tool: climate engineering.

 Arid land, hill in the background

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Clay subsoil at Earth’s driest place may signal life on Mars

Earth’s most arid desert may hold a key to finding life on Mars.

Diverse microbes discovered in the clay-rich, shallow soil layers in Chile’s dry Atacama Desert suggest that similar deposits below the Martian surface may contain microorganisms, which could be easily found by future rover missions or landing craft.

 Screen shot showing four people

Article

In election’s waning days, panel sees hope for democracy

Amid the clatter in the days before the presidential election – the long lines at early polls, racial strife, street protests, political ad skirmishes and the streaming patter of television punditry – three College of Arts and Sciences professors offered a bright light at the end of the 2020 tunnel: hope for democracy.

 Close up of a spider with two large black eyes

Article

Buzz kill: Spiders ‘hear’ airborne prey via their legs

"These spiders have finely tuned sensory systems and a fascinating hunting strategy."
 Hand placing ballot in box

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‘Democracy Contested?’ forum panel to meet online Oct. 29

As the frenzied 2020 presidential campaign reaches culmination, the nation’s media, political parties and courts brace for a possible contested outcome. But in the United States and around the world, heated national elections are nothing new.

 Planet in foreground, bright star beyond

Article

Smile, wave: Some exoplanets may be able to see us, too

Three decades after Cornell astronomer Carl Sagan suggested that Voyager 1 snap Earth’s picture from billions of miles away – resulting in the iconic Pale Blue Dot photograph – two astronomers now offer another unique cosmic perspective:

 Lea Bonnefoy

Article

Postdoc honored by L’Oreal, UN for innovative research

Lea Bonnefoy ’15, a Cornell postdoctoral researcher in astronomy who will soon examine NASA mission landing spots on the Saturnian moon Titan, has been awarded a 2020 L’Oréal-United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Young Talents France Prize For Women in Science.

Bonnefoy, who was among 20 doctoral candidates and 15 post-doctoral researchers in all selected to represent France, was recognized in the physical chemistry category.

 Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking at a podium

Article

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 dies

Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54, whose legal career in the fight for women’s rights, equal rights and human dignity culminated with her ascent to the U.S. Supreme Court, and who – as an octogenarian – became a cultural hero and arguably the most beloved justice in American history, died Sept. 18 in Washington, D.C. She was 87.

Ginsburg died from complications of cancer, according to a statement from the Supreme Court.

 Illustration of a six-wheeled machine on dry, red terrain

Article

Study shows difficulty in finding evidence of life on Mars

In a little more than a decade, samples of rover-scooped Martian soil will rocket to Earth.

While scientists are eager to study the red planet’s soils for signs of life, researchers must ponder a considerable new challenge: Acidic fluids – which once flowed on the Martian surface – may have destroyed biological evidence hidden within Mars’ iron-rich clays, according to researchers at Cornell and at Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología.

 Dark clouds with flashes of light

Article

Ammonia sparks unexpected, exotic lightning on Jupiter

Jupiter’s lightning occurs not only deep within water clouds, but also in shallow atmospheric regions.
 Drawing of a small helicoptor flying through an orange landscape

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Cornellians help NASA zoom in on red planet

Mars is about to become a little more red, thanks to the Cornellians who helped develop and calibrate instruments soon bound for the planet.

Early on July 30, the NASA/Jet Propulsion Lab’s Mars 2020 spacecraft will roar away from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, bound for Earth’s rusty red neighbor.

 Two white orbs on a blue background

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Milky Way neutron star pair illuminates cosmic cataclysms

A pair of binary neutron stars is giving researchers a front-row seat at what they believe will be the stars’ eventual cataclysmic merger.
 Dog wearing a vest, sniffing in leaves

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Cornell Atkinson awards $1.1M to innovative projects

The Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability has awarded seven Academic Venture Fund (AVF) interdisciplinary seed grants, totaling $1.1 million, for projects that engage faculty from eight Cornell colleges and 16 academic departments.

 Illustration of colorful planets

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Kaltenegger details diversity of exoplanets in lecture

When astronomer Joan Schmelz met then-postdoctoral researcher Lisa Kaltenegger a decade ago at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the hottest cosmic theme to study was exoplanet exploration.

 Three students holding camaras, colorful background

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Online showcase celebrates students’ community engagement

The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping people apart, but Cornell students showed that despite physical distancing they can still make meaningful local, regional and global connections.

 Earth-like planet divided into stripes

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Astronomers develop ‘decoder’ to gauge exoplanet climate

After examining a dozen types of suns and a roster of planet surfaces, Cornell astronomers have developed a practical model – an environmental color “decoder” – to tease out climate clues for potentially habitable exoplanets in galaxies far away.

 Woman in dark room gazing into computer screen

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Cornell Atkinson awards five more COVID-19 rapid grants

The proliferation of medical misinformation on social media and the human experience of social distancing are among the pandemic-related topics to be studied with Rapid Response Fund grants from the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.

 Blue hills and a horizon

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Long-dead stars can yield clues to life in the cosmos

The next generation of powerful Earth- and space-based telescopes will be able to hunt distant solar systems for evidence of life on Earth-like exoplanets – particularly those that chaperone burned-out stars known as white dwarfs.

The chemical properties of those far-off worlds could indicate that life exists there. To help future scientists make sense of what their telescopes are showing them, Cornell astronomers have developed a spectral field guide for these rocky worlds.

 Purple ball near a flaming sphere

Article

Researchers use ‘hot Jupiter’ data to mine exoplanet chemistry

After spotting a curious pattern in scientific papers – they described exoplanets as being cooler than expected – Cornell astronomers have improved a mathematical model to accurately gauge the temperatures of planets from solar systems hundreds of light-years away.

 Man fishing with net

Article

Chemists create faster-degrading plastic for marine uses

“This material could reduce persistent plastic accumulation in the environment.”
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