Feature Stories

  • 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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  • The Return of the Blob … As a Robot
    Most robots have legs, wheels, or tank-like treads. But Virgina Tech roboticist Dennis Hong is building one that uses "whole-skin locomotion" to move like an amoeba, enabling it to squeeze more easily into the some of the tight other-worldly spaces where extraterrestrial life might be
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  • Leaving No Stone Unturned
    Kimberley Warren-Rhodes has spent countless hours in some of the world´s driest deserts, turning over rocks. Tens of thousands of rocks. What is she hoping to find? The pattern of life.
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  • Life on Mars – Viking Revisited
    The Viking missions to Mars tried to find evidence for life on the planet's surface, but the results of those experiments were frustratingly ambiguous. Joop Houtkooper recently has taken another look at the data, and he suspects that Viking may have discovered Martian microbes after
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  • Swimming a Salty Sea
    If there is life on Jupiter´s moon Europa, what would it be like? The answer partly depends on the type of ocean water that is under the moon's icy outer shell.
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  • Rethinking Jupiter
    The planet Jupiter is thought to act as a "cosmic vacuum cleaner," sucking up comets and asteroids that could potentially hit the Earth and endanger all life on our planet. But new research has more closely examined Jupiter's ability to protect the inner solar
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  • Predicting Planets
    Finding new planets around distant stars has become commonplace. But now a team of astronomers has succeeded in predicting the orbit of a planet that hadn´t yet been discovered. The last time that happened was more than 150 years ago.
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  • Phoenix Takes Flight
    Phoenix, NASA´s latest mission to Mars, will land in the planet´s northern polar region. It will dig down into the permafrost, which lies just below the surface, and look for signs of past habitability.
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