• Signals from an Infant Earth
    Precise dating of zircon crystals suggests that Earth may have been conducive to life even before an epic influx of asteroids pummeled our planet 4 billion years ago.
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  • Deep Hydrogen
    Molecular hydrogen provides energy for many bacteria, in hot springs at Yellowstone and in rocks several kilometers beneath the surface. How did molecular hydrogen get inside these deep rocks, and what does this tell us about the origin of life on Earth?
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  • Making Sense of Mars Methane
    Research on methane at a Mexican salt flat could help reveal the source of methane that has been detected in the atmosphere of Mars. But first scientists have to decipher the unique – and seemingly contradictory - isotopic signature of the Mexican methane.
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  • Amino Acids: In Hot Water
    Meteorites shower the Earth with amino acids. A new project is exploring how long amino acids could survive on asteroids, meteorites, and the early Earth. The results could help scientists pinpoint how and where life on our planet began.
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  • How Did Life Get Started?
    How did life get started? A growing body of evidence favors an "RNA World" as an early stage of life, before DNA assumed its present role as the molecule that stores genetic information.
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  • Amino Acid Ingredients Found in Distant Galaxy
    In the ultra-bright galaxy Arp 220, radio astronomers have for the first time detected all the ingredients of an amino acid beyond the Milky Way. The study confirms that familiar carbon chemistry exists in the distant universe, and could help constrain the search for life.
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  • Astrobiology Top 10: When Fungi Ruled the World
    Astrobiology Magazine is looking back over 2007, highlighting the Top 10 astrobiology stories of the year. At number 6 is the discovery that 420 million years ago, fungi stood as tall as trees, reaching up to 20 feet in height.
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  • Our Earliest Animal Ancestors
    How has life changed Earth? How has Earth changed life? And why did animal life appear on Earth some time around 600 million years ago – and not at another time? A new NASA Astrobiology Institute group will tackle big questions about the origin of
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  • When Fungi Ruled the World
    One of the strangest mysteries of the fossil world concerns a tall, cylindrical structure dating to 420 million years ago. Some scientists have called it fungus, others a lichen, still others an alga. A new isotopic analysis has settled the debate, and has helped researchers
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  • Power in Space: Time for a Biological Solution?
    Conventional space-power systems rely on photovoltaics, batteries, fuel cells and radioisotope thermal generators. Are space technologists ready to take advantage of biological mechanisms as an energy source?
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  • Pies in the Sky: A Solution to Global Warming?
    If global warming sizzles out of control, could 16 trillion small disks deflect enough sunlight to cool the planet? Astronomer Roger Angel proposes to find out.
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  • Science vs. Exploration: A Piggyback Solution?
    Which is a better investment, science or exploration? The question is almost as old as the space program itself, and answering it won´t get any easier as humans move toward establishing a lunar base. But could science be an inevitable outgrowth of exploration?
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  • Looking for Microbial Martians
    A miniature detector, 1 million times more sensitive than the ones carried by Viking, will search for amino acids on Mars. The detector will be sent to Mars aboard the European Space Agency´s ExoMars spacecraft, scheduled for a 2013 launch.
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  • Checking Out the Stellar Neighborhood
    A recent study found 20 new star systems in the sun´s local neighborhood. Most of the new discoveries are red dwarfs, much smaller and dimmer than the sun. Yet scientists are growing more confident that these stars could host habitable planets.
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  • Astrobiology Top 10: Getting to Know Titan
    Astrobiology Magazine is looking back over 2006, highlighting the Top 10 astrobiology stories of the year. At number 7 is the Cassini spacecraft´s continuing investigations of Saturn's moon Titan. Scientists knew Titan would be interesting, perhaps containing organic compounds that are the building
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