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Heavy Metal Stars Produce Earth-Like Planets
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
Examining the wealth of data from Kepler, astronomers have seen a positive correlation between stellar composition and planetary formation, a correlation that could affect how we search for life in the universe.

Living in the Galactic Danger Zone
Topic: Alien Life
Although stars closer to the galactic center are exposed to more radiation, new research finds that there are more chances to find habitable planets there than in the outer regions of our galaxy.

Rocky Planets Could Have Been Born as Gas Giants
Topic: New Planets
A new theory of planet formation could mean that Earths and Super-Earths were created when gas was stripped from gas giant planets.

Methane Debate Splits Mars Community
Topic: Mars
Eight years have passed, and scientists still haven't been able to come to any consensus over purported detections of methane on Mars.

Microbe Risk When Rover Wheels Hit Martian Dirt
Topic: Mars
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission will use a new "sky crane" method to lower the SUV-sized rover onto the martian surface. This direct touchdown risks contaminating the Red Planet's surface with Earth microbes hitchhiking on the rover's wheels.

Alien Life More Likely on 'Dune' Planets
Topic: Alien Life
A new study finds that desert worlds -- like the planet Arrakis in the sci-fi classic "Dune" -- might be the more common type of habitable planet in the galaxy, rather than watery planets such as Earth.

Dolphins, Aliens, and the Search for Intelligent Life
Topic: Alien Life
While SETI scans the galaxy for evidence of advanced alien civilizations, what can studying dolphins teach us about non-human intelligence?

Greenhouse Effect Could Extend Habitable Zone
Topic: Alien Life
Astronomers generally expect planets with liquid water to exist close to their parent star. But new research shows that some planets orbiting at the same distance as Saturn could have lakes and oceans.

Out of Thin Martian Air
Topic: Mars
Mars has lost an ocean's worth of water, but to find where it all went will take satellites and computer models working in conjunction.

Amino Acid Alphabet Soup
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
All life on Earth relies on a standard set of 20 amino acids to build the proteins that carry out life's essential actions. But did it have to be this way?
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