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  • Smog Warning, Titan
    The chemistry of Saturn's moon, Titan, has long fascinated planetary scientists, particularly since it was not only discovered to have a thick atmosphere, but also one rich in organics thought to have played important roles in Earth's early biochemistry. Is Titan's chemistry biochemical?
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  • Io: Moon On Fire
    For those wishing to tour another solar system, Jupiter is a close simulation; the Jovian family of moons offers some of the most stunning photo opportunities available. To trace the story of the Jovian family requires a good lens, since the four inner
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  • Swift Gammas: One Minute of Fame, Everyday
    On the thirtieth anniversary of the discovery of gamma-ray bursts, a new telescope called SWIFT is expected to deepen our understanding of what causes them. Focused in the high-energy part of the electromagnetic spectrum, gamma-ray bursts represent the biggest explosions since the Big Bang.
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  • Mysteries of Wow
    In August 1977, a sky survey conducted with Ohio State University's "Big Ear" radio telescope found what has become known as the 'Wow' signal. Registering an enormous signal strength, the shape of the signal had the characteristic rise and fall expected for its short
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  • Martian History: Written in Stone
    A key goal for the Mars Exploration Rovers is to find out what Mars rocks are made of. That's no simple matter, requiring several tools mounted on the Instrument Deployment Device. One, the Alpha-Particle-X-Ray Spectrometer, analyzes many of the chemical elements in a rock or
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  • Dyson’s Long Shot
    Renowned physicist Freeman Dyson, famous for his designs of grand energy collectors called Dyson's Sphere, has put down a public bet: life will first be discovered elsewhere not on a planet or moon, but someplace other than what we could recognize as terrestrial turf.
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  • Habitability: Betting on 37 Gem
    What star meets the current best guesses for habitability? This fascinating question is part of an ongoing research survey, in preparation for NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder mission. The answer, according to the largest such classification so far attempted, is the 37th brightest star in
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  • Metal in the Meadow
    Dave DeBoer, Project Engineer for Allen Telescope Array, discusses what the unique telescope will offer. The Allen Telescope Array is marked by many innovations crafted with express purpose of building a world-class state-of-the-art astronomical facility at a price of existing radio telescopes.
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  • Archaean Sunscreen
    Early life may have used sunscreen, allowing it to escape deep water and live relatively high and dry. Any life that may have existed on the surface of Mars also would have needed sunscreen to stand a chance.
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  • Galileo’s Spyglass
    Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute examines the revolution that the astronomer Galileo brought to the world by discovering moons around another planet. This changed what otherwise had persisted as a worldview since Aristotle placed Earth in the center of it the universe.
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  • What Iron Can Tell Us about Mars
    To the Mars Exploration Rover mission, water, past or present, is the grail. One way to look for past water is to analyze soil and rock surfaces for evidence of iron-containing minerals (or compounds), which differ depending on whether the environment in the past was
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  • High Tide on Europa
    Cynthia Phillips, an expert on Europa image analysis from SETI Institute, discusses the remarkable way that the Galilean satellites-get their warmth. The moons are heated by eccentric orbits. Called tidal heating, this source of energy has interesting implications for whether liquid water could exist so
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  • The End of Galileo
    On Sunday afternoon, the Galileo spacecraft crashed into the planet Jupiter. The spacecraft has redefined our understanding of Jupiter, the moons orbiting that gas giant planet, and the possibility of life elsewhere in our solar system.
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  • Chomping on Nano-Nuggets
    Eight years ago, nanometer-sized features resembling bacteria were discovered in the Martian meteorite ALH84001. Although some scientists think nanometer-sized life can't exist, others contend that nanobacteria are the new frontier in life science.
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  • Planetary Primer: Mars and Venus
    The terrestrial neighborhood is rich with both extremes of hot and cold, depending on whether one looks to Venus or Mars. Whether Venus has too much atmosphere or whether Mars has too little determines whether they rank as hospitable or hostile.
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