Solar System

  • Stargazers To See Red
    2003 promises a Martian close approach not witnessed in more than 50,000 years--since early humans started cave-painting. Indeed, the astronomical year ahead promises to be painted red for stargazers.
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  • Complex Life, By Jove!
    What role did Jupiter play in the development of complex life on Earth? Understanding this question - and determining how many other Jupiter-mass planets are out there - might help us estimate the likelihood of finding life elsewhere in the galaxy.
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  • Companions for Ice-Planet Neptune
    New moons have been found orbiting Neptune, one of our solar system's giant ice ball planets. The moons are the first found from ground-based telescopes in more than half a century.
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  • New World of Iron Rain
    Discover the remarkable new planet that has a year that lasts a terrestrial day, and rains down not water, but iron. The discovery is made possible by a planetary detection method--called a transit search--where the parent star dims as the orbitting planets pass across
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  • Salty Volcanoes on Jovian Moon
    Scientists trying to resolve a 30 year mystery of how one of Jupiter's moons generates a cloud of charged particles have found an answer. The stunningly colorful moon, called Io, has a pillar of salt that gets spewed from its volcanic surface.
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  • Ancient Fossils – or Just Plain Rocks?
    How the 3.5 billion year history of Earth gets written depends on proposed fossilized bacteria found in rocks from Western Australia. If life did exist that early then biological beginnings predated significant atmospheric oxygen by about a billion years. The debaters have just
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  • Water Worlds
    Italian astronomers report on a method for water detection on extrasolar planets and cometary clouds, and their shortlist of candidates with promising initial findings from the 32-meter Medicina radio telescope.
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  • Roses for the Red Planet
    At a conference on terraforming Mars, one topic of discussion was the importance - and the risks - of seeding the Red Planet.
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  • Genetic Engineering and Human Intervention: Part III
    Interview (Part III) with Andrew Knoll, Harvard paleobiologist, about the role of human intervention in shaping the global biosphere: "We just need to recognize that we live in a world where local actions sometimes have large reactions.
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  • Extinctions: Interview with Andrew Knoll Part II
    "Progress is a very loaded term for people who study the philosophy of biology," says Harvard's Andrew Knoll. In part II of the interview, find out the role of extinction in evolution. "...the central fact of our planet, as far as biology is
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  • Gravity’s Telescope
    Using a technique known as "gravitational microlensing", astronomers hope to find planets in Earth-like orbits around stars halfway across the galaxy.
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  • Europa: Chewy or Crunchy?
    For geophysicist William B. Moore, the question of whether life exists on Jupiter's moon Europa boils down to whether the moon's center is chewy or crunchy.
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  • Biodiversity: Interview with Andrew Knoll Part I
    Harvard's Andrew Knoll, esteemed paleontologist, and Berkeley's Norman Myers, renowned conservation biologist, published a colloquium paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year entitled, "The Biotic Crisis and the Future of Evolution."
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  • Build Your Own Planet
    Build your own virtual planet, complete with weather, habitable tropics and a tunable thermostat. In reality, changing an entire biosphere would dwarf the limits of engineers' most grand projects: Hoover Dam, Suez and Panama Canals, or hurricane cloud-seeding.
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  • Sunset on Io
    Jupiter's closest moon, Io, is revealed in new imagery at sunset, giving a stunning glimpse of a mountain nearly as tall as Mount Everest. Io's unique volcanism gives it heat far from the Sun.
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