Feature Stories

  • A Vision for Exploration
    Bernard Foing is chief scientist of the European Space Agency´s Research and Scientific Support Department. He sees exploration of our Moon as only the first step toward understanding the potential for life in our solar system and beyond.
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  • Searching for Earth
    More than 250 planets have been found orbiting distant stars. Most of them are "hot Jupiters," giant planets orbiting close to their stars, unlikely places for life to take hold. NASA´s Kepler mission hopes to find habitable planets like Earth. Or, perhaps, to discover that
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  • Frozen Life Cubes
    What´s living in Antarctica´s ice-covered Lake Vostok? Scientists hope to find out by studying an ice core recovered from some two miles below the surface, just above the lake itself.
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  • How Did Life Get Started?
    How did life get started? A growing body of evidence favors an "RNA World" as an early stage of life, before DNA assumed its present role as the molecule that stores genetic information.
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  • NASA´s Wine Sniffer
    A detector designed to search for signs of life on Mars may prove useful closer to home. It turns out the device also excels at identifying the components of red wine and other foods and beverages that can cause headaches, or in extreme cases, even
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  • NASA´s Wine Sniffer
    A detector designed to search for signs of life on Mars may prove useful closer to home. It turns out the device also excels at identifying the components of red wine and other foods and beverages that can cause headaches, or in extreme cases, even
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  • A Question of Climate
    At its birth, our young planet was a ball of molten hot rock. How long did it take to cool down? The answer could indicate the conditions necessary for life to arise, and provide insight into the evolutionary history of life on Earth.
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  • Amino Acid Ingredients Found in Distant Galaxy
    In the ultra-bright galaxy Arp 220, radio astronomers have for the first time detected all the ingredients of an amino acid beyond the Milky Way. The study confirms that familiar carbon chemistry exists in the distant universe, and could help constrain the search for life.
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  • Can a Robot Draw a Map?
    Scientists will need detailed geologic maps of Mars to guide their search for life there. Typically such maps are produced through painstaking human field work. A group of scientists from Carnegie Mellon University wants to know whether a robot could do the job instead.
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  • Life on Frosted Earths
    The search for life beyond the Earth is closely linked with hunting for habitable worlds. Astronomers have always hoped to find planets in the so-called "Goldilocks zone" around their parent stars, where the temperature is just right.
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