Intermediate Word:  abalone (a) mythical city of pearl  (b) prized white marble  (c) gown worn by Renaissance matrons  (d) tasty shellfish
Difficult Word:
  sorb -  (a) sorbet  (b) improper grammatical construction  (c) tree  (d) elevated work platform

'Home Plate' Continues To Mystify Mars Rover Team - SpaceDaily  The rocks and geologic characteristics of Home Plate are like no other found by either Mars rover in the 25 months they have been rolling over the red planet. The Home Plate rocks look like a volcano had rained down debris in the middle of water-sculpted strata. The causes? "There are a bunch of possibilities: Impact deposits, volcanic deposits, maybe wind- or water-lain sediments. In the images we have so far, the rocks look to some of us like they might be explosive volcanic deposits." Spirit is now studying a rock target called Barnhill, located near Home Plate, using instruments on the rover's robotic arm.    
Stuttering stars found  - Nature  Left:  A radio beam blasts out both ends of this artist's impression of a neutron star, with some of the magnetic field lines cut away.  Astronomers have so far seen 11 examples of the objects, which they call Rotating Radio Transients (RRATs). The stars send out bursts of radio waves that last between 2 and 30 milliseconds, with a time interval between bursts varying unpredictably from 4 minutes to 3 hours. This makes them a bit like jittery cousins of pulsars, explains Lyne. Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars that send out a concentrated beam of radio waves, just like a lighthouse. Every time that beam sweeps over the Earth our radio telescopes hear a regular click. But no one has ever seen a pulsar-type object emit an irregular beam quite like the RRATs. The team concludes that RRATs could be a previously unknown form of neutron star, which spins regularly (like a pulsar), but only occasionally emits a radio beam. As to why it only sometimes emits a beam, Lyne admits, "we haven't a clue". The RRAT may be one of many possible fates in store for a star in its death throes. Intermediate stars tend to become neutron stars in their afterlife.

Virtual globes: The web-wide world  - Nature  Left:  Great plot: Google Earth allows you to pan and zoom around images, such as this slice of atmospheric data. To the casual user, of which it has attracted millions since its launch last June, the appeal of Google Earth is the ease with which you can zoom from space right down to street level, with images that in some places are sharp enough to show individual people. Its popularity with a growing number of scientists lies in the almost-equal ease with which it lets them lay data with a spatial component on top of background imagery. 

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