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The Importance of Being Magnetized
Topic: Spaceship Earth
Despite its magnetic field, Earth is losing its atmosphere to space at about the same rate as planets that lack this protective barrier against the solar wind. Scientists now are beginning to question whether magnetic fields really are vital to helping a planet hold on to its atmosphere.

New Study Finds Apex Fossils Aren´t Life
Topic: Geology
Scientists have been arguing for years about microscopic structures in 3.5-billion-year-old rocks: some think they are the earliest fossilized life yet found, while others see just geology. A new study says the structures are not fossils after all, and cautions that how we interpret such structures will affect our search for life beyond Earth.

Testing Mars Missions in Morocco
Topic: Mars
Martian-like landscapes in Morocco provide testing grounds for the next generation of Mars exploration missions.

Radiation No Concern for Space Crops?
Topic: Moon to Mars
Flax seeds can grow in radioactive soil near the contaminated site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident without much change to their proteins, experiments show. This study may point the way to growing crops in space, on the Moon, or on Mars.

Musical Chairs around the Periodic Table
Topic: Extreme Life
The claim of a microbe that swaps arsenic for phosphorus may be questionable, but alternative chemistries for life is still a question worth considering, say researchers.

Mars, Brought to You by Corporate Sponsors
Topic: Mars
NASA scientists and others think business corporations could bankroll a human mission to Mars. This raises the prospect that a spaceship named the Microsoft Explorer or the Google Search Engine could go down in history as the first spaceship to bring humans to the red planet.

Beaming Rockets into Space
Topic: Missions
An advanced rocket propulsion concept calls for heating a rocket´s propellant by focusing energy on it from ground-based lasers or microwave sources. The technology could cut the cost of putting payloads into orbit by a factor of five or more.

Skeletons in the Pre-Cambrian Closet
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Researchers are studying some of the earliest skeletons in order to better understand the ancient advancement of animal life.

How Earth´s Orbital Shift Shaped the Sahara
Topic: Earth
A change in the Earth´s orbit, many scientists believe, transformed the "Green Sahara" into what is now the largest desert on the planet. While scientists are still trying to find out if the slow shift in orbit had rapid or gradual environmental consequences, they say Earth´s orbit will continue to change today and into the future.

Asking About Arsenic
Topic: Extreme Life
On December 2, NASA held a press conference to announce the discovery of a bacterium that has a novel biochemistry. The research made headlines around the world and sparked a great deal of scientific debate.
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