The Alien Observatory --Kepler Mission Objects of Interest: "Searching for Overlooked Planets for Life" (WATCH Video)

 
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"The search for planets is the search for life," said Natalie Batalha, a Kepler mission scientist from NASA's Ames Research Center. "These results will form the basis for future searches for life."

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Ocean Life Likely to Survive 6th Mass Extinction --"But With Fewer Species" (WATCH Today's 'Galaxy' Stream)

 

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"We're not saying nothing happened," said co-author Dr William Foster, a palaeontologist from the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. "Rather, global oceans in the extinction's aftermath were a bit like a ship manned by a skeleton crew - all stations were operational, but manned by relatively few species."

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"Scary Data" --NASA's Sentinel 6A Mission Monitors Rising Sea Levels Reshaping the Surface of Our Planet (WATCH Video)

 
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"As human-caused global warming drives sea levels higher and higher, we are literally reshaping the surface of our planet," said Josh Willis, NASA project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "These missions tell us how much and how fast."

 

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New NASA Research Simulates Surfaces of Potentially Life-Bearing Alien Worlds in 3D

 

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Previous NASA models simulated atmospheric conditions along one dimension, the vertical. Like some other recent habitability studies of alien planets, the new research used a model that calculates conditions in all three dimensions, allowing the team to simulate the circulation of the atmosphere and the special features of that circulation, which one-dimensional models cannot do.

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"Exploration Bases for Future Astronauts" --Japan's Selene Probe Discovers Enormous Caves on the Moon

 

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Japan’s space agency announced that its Selenological and Engineering Explorer (Selene) probe, has discovered an enormous cave beneath the lunar surface that will boost plans by several countries to send astronauts to the moon almost half a century after the Apollo 11 mission. Using a radar sounder system that can examine underground structures, the orbiter initially found a chasm 50 50km (31 miles) long and 100 metres wide, prompting speculation that there could be a larger hollow. This week scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) confirmed the presence of a cave after examining the hole using radio waves.

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"Still a Puzzle" --Organics-Rich Region on Ceres Found to Be Native to the Dwarf Planet (VIDEO)

 

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Since NASA's Dawn mission fits went into orbit around Ceres,  evidence has been found for organic material on the  dwarf planet, the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists using the spacecraft's visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR) detected the material in and around a northern-hemisphere crater called Ernutet. Organic molecules are interesting to scientists because they are necessary, though not sufficient, components of life on Earth.

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The Alien Observatory --Alien Chemistry on Distant Worlds: "The Search for Non-Carbon-Based Life"

 

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“My feeling is that if a human being can coax life to build bonds between silicon and carbon, nature can do it too,” said Frances Arnold a chemical engineer at the California Institute of Technology, about  implications that new findings might have for alien chemistry on distant worlds.

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"Mars' Electric Moon" --Solar Eruptions Could Electrify Red Planet's Phobos (VIDEO)

 
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Powerful solar eruptions could electrically charge areas of the Martian moon Phobos to hundreds of volts, presenting a complex electrical environment that could possibly affect sensitive electronics carried by future robotic explorers, according to a new NASA study. The study also considered electrical charges that could develop as astronauts transit the surface on potential human missions to Phobos.

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"Invisible Toxic Cloud Found at South Pole of Saturn's Titan" --NASA Cassini Mission Discovery

 

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Researchers with NASA's Cassini mission found evidence of a toxic hybrid ice in a wispy cloud high above the south pole of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. "This cloud represents a new chemical formula of ice in Titan's atmosphere," said Carrie Anderson of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, a CIRS co-investigator. "What's interesting is that this noxious ice is made of two molecules that condensed together out of a rich mixture of gases at the south pole."

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NASA's Robotic Psyche Mission To Communicate Using Lasers --"Think of It As a Telescope at the Core of an Extinct Planet"

 

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A spacecraft destined to explore a unique asteroid will also test new communication hardware that uses lasers instead of radio waves. "I am thrilled that Psyche is getting to fly the Deep Space Optical Communications package," Elkins-Tanton says. "First of all, the technology is mind-blowing and it brings out all my inner geek. Who doesn't want to communicate using lasers, and multiply the amount of data we can send back and forth?"

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