Solar System

  • Has Spirit Found Bedrock in Columbia Hills?
    Since arriving at the Columbia Hills, Spirit, one of the Mars Exploration Rovers, has encountered some mysterious phenomena. The rover's right front "arthritic" wheel that plagued Spirit's 2-mile trek across the plains is now suddenly working perfectly.
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  • Swiss-Cheese Saturn Moon
    An image of Saturn's small moon, Epimetheus, was captured by the Cassini spacecraft in the closest view ever taken of the pockmarked body.
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  • Questioning Terrestrial Planets
    Looking for biosignatures that would be characteristic of intelligent life is not always about extrapolating the most intelligent things a species might be doing. For instance, would one look for pollutants in the atmosphere?
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  • Organically-Certified Titan
    During its closest flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on April 16, the Cassini spacecraft came within 1,027 kilometers (638 miles) of the moon's surface and found that the outer layer of the thick, hazy atmosphere is brimming with complex hydrocarbons.
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  • Adapting to Near-Extinctions
    Why were rates of extinction so low for many of the major groups of marine life during one of the greatest ice ages of them all, which occurred from about 330 million to 290 million years ago, late in the Paleozoic Era.
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  • State-of-the-Art Mineralogy for Mars
    Aiming to nail down whether Mars could have nurtured life in the past, the Mars Science Laboratory will live up to its name, with a state-of-the-art internal chemical and mineralogical laboratory. The rover will pick up rocks, chew, swallow, then analyze the minerals in detail
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  • Tornado, Signs of Martian Spring
    At the Spirit rover's site in Gusev Crater, the appearance of a mini-tornado, or dust devil, is a sign of spring. As the midday heat peaks, so the whirling winds of this dusty crater bed. Dust devils are familiar to observers in the American Southwest
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  • Choked in Dust
    Looking at a star similar to our sun, the Spitzer Space Telescope has detected a dusty inner solar system. Violent collisions within a large asteroid belt may be generating all this dust. Such an asteroid belt also would present a danger to
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  • Messenger Out of the Bottle
    MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury, and the first NASA mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun.
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  • Knocked Off Its Axis
    Since the time billions of years ago when Mars was formed, it has never been a spherically symmetric planet, nor is it composed of similar materials throughout, say scientists who have studied the planet. Since its formation, it has changed its shape and thus the
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  • Crunching the Numbers
    Maggie Turnbull, an astronomer with the Carnegie Institution, has spent many years thinking about what kind of stars could harbor Earth-like planets. Her database of potentially habitable star systems could be used as a target list for NASA's forthcoming Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) mission.
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  • Titan’s Unexplored Country
    NASA's Cassini spacecraft successfully flew by Saturn's moon Titan at a distance of 2,402 kilometers (1,493 miles) on Thursday, March 31. Cassini's multiple instruments are providing new views of the haze-enshrouded world.
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  • Explaining Eccentricities
    When astronomers discovered that the planets around Upsilon Andromedae had very strange orbits, they weren't sure what could have caused it. Researchers from Berkeley and Northwestern have developed a simulation that shows how an additional planet could have given the other planets the orbital kick.
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  • Next to Rove Mars?
    European space scientists have strongly recommended a mission equipped with a Rover as the next scientific mission to Mars as part of the European Space Agency's Aurora programme of planetary exploration.
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  • Flying a Science Lab to Mars
    How do you follow a flat-out success like the Mars Exploration Rovers, still cruising Mars after all these months? By thinking "bigger and better." The Mars Science Laboratory, currently scheduled for launch in 2009, will land a rover three times as massive as Spirit or
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