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RADAR Surprises from Titan
Topic: Titan
11/17/04
Summary: As scientist puzzle over the Titan images from the recent Cassini flyby, some of the most intriguing landforms appear in radar reflections. Ralph Lorenz from the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab takes a tour of Titan's surprises including what may be icy volcanoes.

Water from a Stone
Topic: Mars
11/15/04
Summary: One question that has puzzled planetary scientists is where is the water on Mars today? One answer that is being investigated is mineral storage, particularly hydration of magnesium sulfate salts. If these storehouses protect water from evaporation, a second set of questions arise as to whether their delicate balance between temperature, pressure and humidity could be controlled on any future sample return mission.

Tugboat as Lifeboat?
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
11/10/04
Summary: Among the proposals for diverting an asteroid collision with Earth, one involves gently pushing the incoming rock over the course of a year. This low-thrust solution has its challenges since at various stages of that perilous year, if it ever came, locations on Earth would naturally see human influences as they became the bullseye.

Where Cosmic Rays Come From
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
11/05/04
Summary: A century-old mystery is the origin of cosmic rays. Viewing a supernova remnant with high energy detectors, or gamma-ray eyes, shows that particles are likely accelerated by such massive explosions. Cosmic rays are thought to have played a major role in the early Earth's evolution and life's first mutations.

Marketing to the Mothership
Topic: Alien Life
11/02/04
Summary: It is sometimes said that the best form of advertising is education. But what products would our global marketplace tolerate at the borders of an encounter with another, perhaps far different civilization? To get some perspective, an expert entertains the question of how to advertise our presence to a more universal demographic.

Drilling on Autopilot
Topic: Mars
09/23/04
Summary: Drilling is complex work, even under the best of circumstances. Small wonder, then, that drilling rigs are usually attended by a crew of technicians who control their operation. But if scientists want to explore for life beneath the martian surface, they may have to send a fully autonomous drilling system. The NASA-funded MARTE project is doing a practice run in southern Spain.

Coping with Contamination
Topic: Mars
09/22/04
Summary: Drilling is a messy business. Drilling fluid is anything but sterile. For most drilling applications, that's no problem. But when astrobiologists drill into the subsurface for new and unusual life forms, they need to be sure that the bacteria they find really do come from underground, that they're not being fooled by contaminants that hitched a ride down from the surface.

Life on Earth: Signpost to Life on Mars
Topic: Mars
09/21/04
Summary: The Río Tinto is a river in Spain with highly acidic water the color of red wine. A group of astrobiologists wants to know what microbial life forms are lurking deep below the surface where the river's headwaters seep out of the ground. Then answer may help them search for subsurface life on Mars.

Drilling for Weird Life
Topic: Mars
09/20/04
Summary: Scientists interested in the search for life on other planets often spend their time hunting for novel life forms and unique ecosystems here on Earth. The Río Tinto, a river in Spain with highly acidic water the color of red wine, has one group of researchers intrigued about what might be living underground, in the pyrite deposits along the river's edge.

Citizen of the Solar System
Topic: Moon to Mars
08/25/04
Summary: NASA's David Morrison won the 2004 Carl Sagan medal from the Division for Planetary Sciences. He talked with Astrobiology Magazine about the risks and rewards of extending science beyond our biosphere.
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