Feature Stories

  • 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
    more...
  • 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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  • 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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