Feature Stories

  • Building Life’s Foundations
    New research conducted by the MARTE project team has shown that microbes can make barren areas suitable for life. This could have important implications for the search for life on Mars and other planets.
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  • Oceans Gasping for Breath
    During the Jurassic, global warming and severe environmental change led to the extinction of many species. One of the most intriguing effects was that the oceans became starved of oxygen.
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  • Testing Times for Robotic Explorers
    A team of scientists have been investigating how signs of life on Mars can be spotted using instruments on robotic probes.
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  • Is There Life on Mars? Ask a Magnet.
    Magnetite, a type of iron oxide, is common on both Earth and Mars, and appears in many forms. On Earth, some of those forms are produced only by bacteria and have unique magnetic signatures. Soon Sam Kim has developed a means of detecting this biologically-produced
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  • Intelligence: A Rare Cosmic Commodity
    A mathematical model taking into account the limited habitable lifespan of the Earth suggests that four evolutionary steps were required for intelligent life to evolve. If this applies to other worlds, intelligent life may be rare in the universe.
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  • 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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