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Science Dictionary

Do you know what a meteor is, or what scientists mean when they are talking about cryogenics? Our collection of science terms explains the meaning of some of the most common scientific ideas.

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What is a light year?

A light year is a way of measuring distance. That doesn't make much sense because "light year" contains the word "year," which is normally a unit of time. Even so, light years measure distance.

How does gravity assist with interplanetary satellites?

When satellites go off to places like Jupiter or Saturn (or even out of the solar system), they follow crazy orbits. They will often loop around a planet to get a "gravity assist" or "gravity boost." How does that work? I know the Galileo probe looped around Earth twice to get a boost, and the Pioneer and Voyager probes used Jupiter.

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