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  • Life’s  Limit
    Extreme life forms can thrive in harsh conditions of salt, pressure, temperature and pH, but share a common theme of needing liquid water. Dr. Rocco Mancinelli of the SETI Institute describes his fascination with finding what are the environmental limits to life.
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  • Biology’s Theme Park: RNA World
    When a laboratory recipe for life starts to look daunting, scientists have retreated to a test-tube for what they term 're-evolving evolution'. Their model is one of the template molecules for life, the counterpart to DNA itself, called RNA, which replicates a pattern for cell
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  • Dialing Up Mars
    For those interested in understanding the red planet, a scientific stowaway aboard the two NASA Mars' probes promises to offer a unique view. A Cornell collaboration with Bill Nye, 'the Science Guy', and schoolchildren has launched the first interplanetary sundial.
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  • When Hubble Saw Mars
    If your views of Mars were somehow obscured by clouds or city lights, what the Hubble Space Telescope saw on the martian opposition provides a map and guide for conducting a grand tour of the red planet.
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  • Mars Close Approach
    Never previously in modern human history has Mars been as bright or as close to Earth as tonight. Look for it in the night sky, as it will be easily recognized by its red tinge. As with all planets, its light will also stand
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  • Alien Infection
    As we look toward exploring other worlds, and perhaps even bringing samples back to Earth for testing, astrobiologists have to wonder: could there be alien pathogens in those samples that will wreak havoc on our world?
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  • Infrared Eyes Set For the Sky
    A new Sun-circling telescope will reveal the universe with infrared eyes. Unlike what the Hubble Space Telescope shows in visible light, this Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) will look for heat. The longer, infrared wavelengths can penetrate dust and gas clouds that otherwise obscure.
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  • Life from the Heavens?
    The scientific community has been impressed with the robustness of environments that can support life, ranging from Antarctic lakes to salt mines to nuclear reactors. But conventional wisdom has presumed that life traveling to Earth on a fiery meteor--if possible--would meet a quick sterilizing death.
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  • Spying on Biodiversity
    Monitoring of species which may have natural habitats in remote areas is no easy task. Using internet cameras, a group of Alaska biologists can keep warm, while watching the great outdoors.
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  • Fascination with Distant Worlds
    On September 21, the Galileo space probe will dive into the atmosphere of Jupiter. Its trek to the giant planet has revealed stunning images of the Jovian moons, in particular one of its frozen satellites, Europa. Cynthia Phillips of The SETI Institute provides an account
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  • Mars Up Close
    The Mars Exploration Rovers provide geologists with their first chance to do field work on Mars, so the rovers took along the space version of a common geologist's tool, the pocket magnifying glass or hand lens.
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  • Star Bright: Part II
    In Part I of this article, the differences between typical stars, brown dwarfs and sub-brown dwarfs were discussed. Stars have a mass of 75 Jupiters or greater, brown dwarfs have a mass between 13 and 75 Jupiters, and sub-brown dwarfs are less than 13 Jupiter
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  • Diamonds in the Rough
    Friedemann Freund is investigating the complex chemistry of common rocks like granite, in hopes of uncovering more clues to the origin of life and how oxygen came to support it since the early Earth.
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  • Star Bright: Part I
    Starlight aside, one way to distinguish between stars and planets is to have them weigh in. Stars need a hefty amount of mass to fuse hydrogen, while planets are mere dust motes in comparison. But over past few years, astronomers found planetary-mass objects
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  • The Rise of Oxygen
    When one looks back on our planet from space, an intriguing finding centers on its apparent biochemical contradictions: Earth has lots of chlorophyl and thus plants, but also has lots of oxygen, which is a poisonous element or vegetative waste product.
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