1. Raw Ingredients for Life Detected in Planetary Construction Zones

    NASA has announced new findings from the Spitzer Space Telescope, including icy dust particles coated with water, methanol and carbon dioxide, which may help explain the origin of icy planetoids like comets.

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  1. Faking Titan in the Lab

    Researchers from the University of Arizona have recreated some of the chemicals thought to be in the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

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  1. Did an Impact Trigger the Permian-Triassic Extinction?

    New evidence suggests a possible impact cause for the greatest mass extinction of all time, although many scientists remain skeptical that this long-standing mystery has been solved. A NASA news conference was held May 13 to announce the discovery of an impact crater near Australia that might be implicated in the Permian-Triassic or PT extinction event, 251 million years ago.

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  1. Second Opportunity

    NASA’s Opportunity rover is about to embark on a second journey of exploration. Opportunity spent the past several days taking in the view from the rim of Endurance Crater. The first full-color panorama of the crater, released by NASA late last week, reveals large bedrock outcrops that mission scientists are anxious to study.

    Initial Pancam images and spectral analysis performed by the rover’s Mini-TES instrument indicate that the Endurance Crater outcrops are not composed of the same sulfate-rich material found in Eagle Crater. Steve Squyres, principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission, said the new outcrop ...

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  1. Methane on Mars: A Possible Biomarker?

    Is the methane discovered on Mars evidence for contemporary life on the Red Planet?

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  1. NASA Research Focuses on Yellowstone’s Hot Springs and Compares Findings to Rocks From Mars

    Yellowstone Park Foundation receives $66,000 grant from NASA and Lockheed Martin Corporation to help tell the story.

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  1. Iron Blueberries

    The story of water on ancient Mars just got more interesting. Scientists working on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission announced last week that the small spherules of rock, referred to as “blueberries,” embedded in the bedrock outcrop near the Opportunity landing site contain the iron oxide hematite.

    Scientists previously announced that the rock matrix that makes up the bulk of the outcrop contained a high concentration of sulfate minerals – a clear indication, they said, that the rock was once saturated with water. Embedded within this rock matrix, and scattered across the floor of the crater, are tiny gray spheres ...

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  1. Opportunity Finds Beachfront Property on Mars

    The rocks in the outcrop that NASA’s Opportunity rover has been exploring for the past several weeks “were not just altered and modified by water; they were actually formed in water, perhaps [in] a shallow salty sea,” NASA Associate Administrator Ed Weiler said Tuesday.

    Three weeks ago, NASA scientists announced that they had uncovered mineral evidence that water had percolated underground through Opportunity Ledge, altering its chemical composition. Opportunity Ledge is the bedrock outcrop in Eagle Crater, where the rover landed. Last week, the mission science team reported that the tiny gray spherules embedded in the rock were hematite-bearing ...

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  1. More Evidence for Ancient Water on Mars

    If Mars ever supported life, it must have had liquid water, something that is now precluded on the surface by sub-freezing temperatures and a low atmospheric pressure. One of the main objectives of the current Mars Exploration Rovers is to find evidence on the surface of what might have been a warmer, wetter planet in the past.

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  1. Surviving With – and Without – Oxygen: An Interview With Christopher Chyba

    Without oxygen, animal life on Earth would not be possible. But Earth’s atmosphere wasn’t always rich in oxygen.

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  1. When Did Earth’s Oceans Become Oxygenated?

    New measurements by University of Rochester geochemists have uncovered evidence that even after 2.2 billion years ago, the amount of oxygen in the oceans remained low, perhaps up to the time when multicelled life began to proliferate a few hundred million years ago.

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  1. Evidence of Water Found on Mars

    NASA’s Opportunity rover has found convincing evidence that large quantities of water were once present in at least one location on Mars. “The rocks here were once soaked in liquid water,” said Steve Squyres, principle investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission, referring to the bedrock outcrop near the rover’s landing site in Meridiani Planum. Evidence suggests that, at some point in Mars’s past, water was present in sufficient quantity to make the region “capable of supporting life as we know it.”

    Confirmation of water’s role came from a series of detailed measurements made over ...

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  1. Evidence for Ancient Water on Mars

    Scientists have concluded the part of Mars that NASA’s Opportunity rover is exploring was soaking wet in the past.

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  1. Can People Go to Mars?

    Space radiation between Earth and Mars poses a hazard to astronauts. How dangerous is it out there? NASA scientists are working to find out.

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  1. Into the Briny Deep – Perhaps

    Opportunity has been getting the lion’s share of the attention in recent weeks, because its twin sister Spirit has been engaged mostly in long-distance driving. But it may be about to steal the spotlight. For several sols, Spirit has been working its way towards nearby Bonneville crater. But even before it gets there, the mobile robot may make a critical discovery. It may find evidence of liquid water on Mars.

    Well, not exactly liquid water. Liquid brine, actually. Brine is water that contains dissolved salts. The salts lower the melting temperature of the mixture so that it remains liquid ...

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