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Precious Opals Shine a Light on Mars
Topic: Mars
Research that sheds light on how Australian opals formed indicates the red dirt in the land Down Under might be similar to the red surface of Mars.

Tiny Submersible Could Search for Life in Europa's Ocean
Topic: Robotics & A.I.
Someday, a tiny submarine barely larger than two soda cans could be one of the first visitors to Jupiter's icy moon Europa.

Infrared Photosynthesis: A Potential Power Source for Alien Life in Sunless Places
Topic: Alien Life
The harvesting of low-energy light emitted by hot water spurted out by deep-sea hydrothermal vents might be enough to sustain microbes where the sun doesn't shine

Scouting for Not-So-Distant Worlds
Topic: Missions
A new telescope observatory -- the Next Generation Transit Survey -- will aim to study smaller planets such as ‘hot Neptunes’ and ‘super-Earths’ that orbit bright or nearby stars.

White or Brown Dwarf Planets Not Likely to Host Life
Topic: Alien Life
A new study finds that planets orbiting white or brown dwarfs are unlikely to be habitable for life as we know it.

Investigating Exoplanet Surfaces
Topic: New Planets
In order to better understand the composition of rocky exoplanets, researchers have proposed a method to identify chemical signatures from surface materials. A better understanding of exoplanet surface compositions will help researchers determine the prevalence of Earth-like planets in our galaxy.

A Roadmap for the Future of Astrobiology
Topic: Missions
The NASA Astrobiology Program is now outlining the new 2013 Astrobiology Roadmap, which charts future directions for astrobiology research and technology development at the organization. The process has begun with a series of webinars and online discussions, and a call is out to the astrobiology community to join in the discussion.

Mars Icebreaker Life Mission
Topic: Mars
The Icebreaker Life mission to Mars, currently being developed, would drill down about 3 feet and scan the ice shavings for organic biomarkers — molecules that are too complex to be produced non-biologically and could be conclusive evidence of life.

Kepler Mission Down But Not Yet Out
Topic: Missions
Scientists involved in NASA’s Kepler mission reported today that the telescope is in “safe mode” and no longer able to make observations. While not officially "dead," this may be the end of the road for the telescope that has discovered thousands of exoplanets, many of them "Earth-sized"

Farming on Mars: NASA Ponders Food for mid-2030s Manned Mission
Topic: Moon to Mars
The first humans to live on Mars might not identify as astronauts, but farmers. Growing food on Mars might be one of the most vital, challenging and labor-intensive tasks at hand, experts say. A report from the Humans 2 Mars conference in Washington D.C.
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