Solar System

  • Martian Ground Truth Sought on Dark Dunes
    A European panel of Mars experts recently debated the mystery of seasonal spots that pockmark the dark dunes on the Red Planet.
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  • First Light on New Planet Finder
    Atop a Chilean mountain- in the driest place on Earth- a new telescope promises to seek out distant stars that harbor planets. 'First light' showed that a star's velocity can be detected with the astonishing accuracy equivalent to the speed of a pedestrian's walk (within
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  • Mighty Aphrodite
    Earth's twin, Venus, offers life as we know it few safe places on its faint red-glowing surface, which is hot enough to melt lead. But higher in the clouds, small amounts of water and strange ultraviolet absorbers make for a balmy 107 F abode.
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  • When Eden Comes to Titan
    How will the most favorable conditions for life move outward as the Sun enters its brighter, red giant phase? Paleontologist Peter Ward and astronomer Robert Brownlee take a voyage of imagination seven billion years into the future, and come back with a new and distant
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  • Lakeside Landing
    Gusev Crater, one of the landing sites proposed for the upcoming missions to Mars, is believed to the site of an ancient lakebed. By landing there, NASA hopes to learn more about Mars's watery past.
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  • Red Rovers: Returning to Mars
    NASA will launch two rovers to Mars in the late spring of this year. In this, the first of two articles on potential landing sites, we will examine one of the leading candidates, Meridiani Planum.
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  • Poof! How to Evaporate a Planet
    Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have observed for the first time the atmosphere of a planet beyond our solar system evaporating into space.
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    In the final part of this series, the debate participants respond to questions posed by our readers. Such questions include: "Are nuclear detonations, such as those depicted in the movie 'Armageddon', the best way to divert asteroids?"
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  • Martian Liquid Center
    By watching the tidal pull on their orbitting Global Surveyor spacecraft, scientists have confirmed that Mars has a liquid iron core, much like Earth and Venus. Many astrobiologists conclude that such a molten and magnetic interior is critical to developing life.
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  • Jupiter’s Perfect Storms
    A spectacular photo album of 43 different Jovian storms reverses the 50-year old picture of Jupiter's belts and rotating zones. The new photos were captured by the Cassini spacecraft on its way to Saturn.
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  • Jupiter: Moon Festival
    Jupiter's mini solar system of now 48 satellites offers compelling insights into how the planets and moon formed, as well as supplying a mystery: How does Jupiter capture and hold on to its festival of moons?
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    How we could respond to the threat of an asteroid heading for Earth, and what sort of projects would best serve future NEO goals?
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  • A Meteor’s Protective Bubbles?
    To survive its fiery descent through a planet's atmosphere, hitching a ride inside a protective carbon bubble may have improved the survival chances of organic life if it came from interplanetary fragments.
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  • Long Journey’s End
    A pair of interplanetary workhorses were announced as retiring after long and valuable service. The two spacecrafts--Pioneer 10 and the Galileo mission--both far exceeded their initial plans and revealed spectacular close-up images of the outer solar system.
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  • Mars: Tilting towards Life?
    Where is the best place on Mars to look for evidence of life? At the poles, says one scientist. Although frozen solid today, in past eras, when Mars was more highly tilted, the poles were warm enough for liquid water to form.
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