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Inside Space (Nov 16th, 2017)

An Earth-size exoplanet just 11 light years away shows signs of life, a team of European researchers announced Wednesday. Known as "Ross 128 b," the planet orbits an inactive red dwarf star, giving it a better chance at having an environment able to sustain life. With an orbit of 9.9 days, the planet sits 20 times closer to its star than we are to our sun. And although Ross 128 b is 11 light years away, researchers said the planet is moving toward our solar system. — SLATE

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A classified government satellite built by defense contractor Northrop Grumman will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket today at 8 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center. Details about the mission — which has been codenamed "Zuma" — are unknown. Also unknown is what government agency the satellite is for. What is known is that Zuma is headed for the Low Earth Orbit area, which stretches to about 1,240 from Earth and is where the International Space Station orbits. The launch, which originally was set for Wednesday, will be broadcast live. — SPACE

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The launch of Joint Polar Satellite System-1 — a powerful new satellite used to help produce more accurate weather forecasts — was again delayed due to high winds at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The satellite is a joint venture of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Once in space, the satellite will collect the highest resolution observations available of Earth. "These instruments are so precise that they can measure temperatures to better than one-tenth of a degree in the entire atmosphere, from the Earth’s surface up to the edge of space,” said Greg Mandt, the program director for NOAA. It is expected to fly at about 17,000 mph at 512 feet above Earth. The satellite will scan Earth twice a day. — AEROSPACE TECHNOLOGY

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National Geographic Channel sent a virtual reality camera to the International Space Station this week that will be used to film for its upcoming "One Strange Rock" series. The camera will record a 3D, 360-degree cinematic virtual reality experience. It will be used by European astronaut Paolo Nespoli to "lead us on a tour of the space station. The idea is to use all of that footage to document a day in the life on the space station," said National Geographic executive director for advanced formats Matt Zymet. — SPACE 

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Despite being 18 times larger than our sun, a black hole merger discovered that created gravitational waves has been deemed routine by researchers. "I think we feel now that with the black hole binaries — unless we come across something that is qualitatively different then it really has started to become cataloging," researcher Ken Strain said. The discovery was observed by two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory facilities — one each in Louisiana and Washington. A third station — in Italy — in the laser interferometer lab collaboration was offline and did not gather data. — BBC

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To celebrate the 21st anniversary of the release of "Space Jam," SB Nation this week released several facts about the popular mid-90s movie starring Bugs Bunny, Bill Murray and Michael Jordan that you probably never knew.

Here are a few:

Warner Bros. created Jordan a basketball court on the set so he could train while shooting for the movie. Jordan had just announced his return to basketball at the time. Remember this line: "C'mon, Michael, it's game time. Slip on your Hanes, lace up your Nikes, take your Wheaties and your Gatorade, and we'll grab a Big Mac on the way to the ballpark." As it turns out, Jordan's agent apparently had the line added to appease the long list of companies sponsoring the athlete. And — perhaps most shocking of all — Porky Pig hated the movie! Legendary Looney Tunes animator, the late Chuck Jones, was quoted as saying, "Porky Pig would never say 'I think I wet myself.’”

"Space Jam 2" apparently is in the works, though few details are known.

"Th-th-th-that's all folks!"

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