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Sunday, February 28, 2021
Like Titan, Pluto’s atmosphere is hazy, but for a different reason

Like Titan, Pluto’s atmosphere is hazy, but for a different reason

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Enlarge / Pluto's atmosphere is fairly hazy. Saturn’s moon Titan is distinctive, in part for its orange-ish and hazy atmosphere. It’s virtually impossible to see surface features because the haze is so opaque in the visible portion of the spectrum; what we know of it comes from things like radar imagery, instead. The haze is…
50 years ago, scientists caught their first glimpse of amino acids from outer space

50 years ago, scientists caught their first glimpse of amino acids...

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Amino acids in a meteorite — Science News, December 5, 1970 [Researchers] present evidence for the presence of amino acids of possible extraterrestrial origin in a meteorite that fell near Murchison, Victoria, Australia, Sept. 28, 1969.… If over the course of time their finding becomes accepted … it would demonstrate that amino acids, the basic…
China is about to collect the first moon rocks since the 1970s

China is about to collect the first moon rocks since the...

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For the first time in almost half a century, scientists are going to get their hands on new moon rocks. The Chinese space agency’s Chang’e-5 spacecraft, which landed on the moon around 10:15 a.m. EST December 1, will scoop up lunar soil from a never-before-visited region and bring it back to Earth a few weeks…
Farming on Mars will be a lot harder than ‘The Martian’ made it seem

Farming on Mars will be a lot harder than ‘The Martian’...

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In the film The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) survives being stranded on the Red Planet by farming potatoes in Martian dirt fertilized with feces. Future Mars astronauts could grow crops in dirt to avoid solely relying on resupply missions, and to grow a greater amount and variety of food than with…
Chemical reactions high in Mars’ atmosphere rip apart water molecules

Chemical reactions high in Mars’ atmosphere rip apart water molecules

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Mars’ water is being skimmed off the top. NASA’S MAVEN spacecraft found water lofted into Mars’ upper atmosphere, where its hydrogen and oxygen atoms are ripped apart, scientists report in the Nov. 13 Science. “This completely changes how we thought hydrogen, in particular, was being lost to space,” says planetary chemist Shane Stone of the…
Doubts over a ‘possible sign of life’ on Venus show how science works

Doubts over a ‘possible sign of life’ on Venus show how...

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It was one of those “big, if true” stories. In September, scientists reported that Venus’ atmosphere seems to be laced with phosphine, a possible sign of life. Now there’s increasing emphasis on the “if.” As scientists take fresh looks at the data behind the Venus announcement, and add other datasets to the mix, the original…
Another look at possible under-ice lakes on Mars: They’re still there

Another look at possible under-ice lakes on Mars: They’re still there

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In recent decades, we've become aware of lots of water on Earth that's deep under ice. In some cases, we've watched this water nervously, as it's deep underneath ice sheets, where it could lubricate the sheets' slide into the sea. But we've also discovered lakes that have been trapped under ice near the poles, possibly…
Rosetta data reveal an invisible ultraviolet aurora around comet 67P

Rosetta data reveal an invisible ultraviolet aurora around comet 67P

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Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has its own version of the northern lights. Observations taken by the Rosetta spacecraft reveal the comet’s aurora, which — unlike Earth’s eye-catching light shows — shimmers in invisible ultraviolet light, researchers report online September 21 in Nature Astronomy. Comet 67P joins comet C/Hyakutake 1996 B2, Mars (SN: 3/19/15), Saturn (SN: 4/6/20) and…
Chemical that shouldn’t be there spotted in Venus’ atmosphere

Chemical that shouldn’t be there spotted in Venus’ atmosphere

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Enlarge / The spectral signature of phosphine superimposed on an image of Venus. Today, researchers are announcing that they've observed a chemical in the atmosphere of Venus that has no right to be there. The chemical, phosphine (a phosphorus atom hooked up to three hydrogens), would be unstable in the conditions found in Venus' atmosphere,…
Earth’s building blocks may have had far more water than previously thought

Earth’s building blocks may have had far more water than previously...

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Earth’s deep stores of water may have been locally sourced rather than trucked in from far-flung regions of the solar system. A new analysis of meteorites from the inner solar system — home to the four rocky planets — suggests that Earth’s building blocks delivered enough water to account for all the H2O buried within…

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