Solar System

  • Drilling on Autopilot
    Drilling is complex work, even under the best of circumstances. Small wonder, then, that drilling rigs are usually attended by a crew of technicians who control their operation. But if scientists want to explore for life beneath the martian surface, they may have to send
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  • Driving on Mars From Home
    As Mars pulls out from the behind the Sun, mission scientists get the opportunity to reintroduce themselves to their families and command the rovers' next day's move from a distributed work environment. The promise is not exactly like working in one's pajamas, but does give
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  • Breaking the Ice
    When the vast Larsen B ice shelf broke off the Antarctic Peninsula, no one knew what would happen next to the nearby glacier flows. Would they accelerate and would sea level rise from global temperature changes?
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  • Wireless Volcano Grid Erupts
    Harvard researchers have set up a wireless array of sensors to monitor seismic activity in Ecuador. Seismologists collect vast amounts of data, but their load back down the volcano will be lightened both in cost and burden by going wireless.
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  • Coping with Contamination
    Drilling is a messy business. Drilling fluid is anything but sterile. For most drilling applications, that's no problem. But when astrobiologists drill into the subsurface for new and unusual life forms, they need to be sure that the bacteria they find really do come from
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  • Life on Earth: Signpost to Life on Mars
    The Río Tinto is a river in Spain with highly acidic water the color of red wine. A group of astrobiologists wants to know what microbial life forms are lurking deep below the surface where the river's headwaters seep out of the ground. Then
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  • Mars Methane Pairs with Water?
    The Mars Express team has reported an intriguing connection between methane and water vapor found in three broad geographic regions, a result that may suggest looking further for past or dormant microbial life.
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  • Drilling for Weird Life
    Scientists interested in the search for life on other planets often spend their time hunting for novel life forms and unique ecosystems here on Earth. The Río Tinto, a river in Spain with highly acidic water the color of red wine, has one group of
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  • Saturn: Through a Glass Brightly
    The natural beauty of Saturn's rings shine through when Cassini looks on the nearly-translucent, icy debris in color.
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  • Day in the Sun
    Since September 8th and 9th, the twin Mars rovers have been taking a well-deserved break, while the Sun-Earth line clears again for communication directly to Mars. While this conjunction may temporarily halt their wheels in the sand, other science tasks have kicked off under autonomous
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  • The Other Mars Meteorite
    The most famous Mars meteorite, the Allen Hills rock with its strange, cylindrical rock segments, may not be the most intriguing. Consider a rock launched from Mars only 700 million years ago called Lafayette.
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  • Martian Mesas
    With its high-resolution stereo camera, Mars Express continues to beam back orbital views of the kind of massive erosion features expected around Earth mesas and canyons. Whether aqueous or tectonic erosion, the perspective views show spectacular snapshots demonstrating inverted relief.
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  • Surfing the Wave
    A tsunami, a series of large waves caused by the disruption of seawater, is one of the many hazards of living on Earth. Bill McGuire, Director of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre, says that a mega-tsunami could cause death and destruction to both the eastern
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  • Saturn’s Family Portrait
    The Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn takes a wide-angle view of the ringed planet's extended moon system. These mostly icy moons have highly reflective, bright surfaces and tend to smooth over many impact scars when their frozen veneers heal.
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  • Mobile Mars Lab
    A remote Mars life-detection strategy is being tested in the fjords of Scandanavia, with a goal of eventually identifying even a single biological cell hiding in the rugged landscape.
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