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Detecting biomarkers on faraway planets

While biomarkers have never been spotted in observations of an exoplanet, because their signal is so faint, the new generation of telescopes being planned today, such as the European Extremely Large Telescope, may be sensitive enough to detect them. New research presented to the European Planetary Science Congress at UCL by Lee Grenfell (DLR) aims to explore how such biomarkers might be detected in future.

Posted: Sep 12th, 2013

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The peanut at the heart of our galaxy

Two groups of astronomers have used data from ESO telescopes to make the best three-dimensional map yet of the central parts of the Milky Way. They have found that the inner regions take on a peanut-like, or X-shaped, appearance from some angles. This odd shape was mapped by using public data from ESO's VISTA survey telescope along with measurements of the motions of hundreds of very faint stars in the central bulge.

Posted: Sep 12th, 2013

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NASA identifies three asteroids for potential capture

The US space agency has narrowed its hunt for an asteroid to capture to three, NASA said. The asteroids fit the requirements of being between seven to 10 meters in size, and further study should be able to narrow the choice even more.

Posted: Sep 12th, 2013

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Underwater astronaut on the Moon

ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy and ESA astronaut instructor Hervé Stevenin slipped into the roles of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin last week for an underwater simulation of the historic mission to the Moon.

Posted: Sep 12th, 2013

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Scientists strike scientific gold with meteorite

An important discovery has been made concerning the possible inventory of molecules available to the early Earth. Scientists found that the Sutter's Mill meteorite, which exploded in a blazing fireball over California last year, contains organic molecules not previously found in any meteorites. These findings suggest a far greater availability of extraterrestrial organic molecules than previously thought possible, an inventory that could indeed have been important in molecular evolution and life itself.

Posted: Sep 10th, 2013

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Upgrade to Mars rovers could aid discovery on more distant worlds

Mars rovers, such as Curiosity, currently can't make science decisions on their own. That has to change if future rover missions are to make discoveries further out in the solar system, scientists say. To help future rover missions spend less time waiting for instructions from Earth, scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., developed an advanced two-lens camera, called TextureCam, that can think about the pictures it snaps and make science-based decisions.

Posted: Sep 9th, 2013

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Reflecting on Earth's albedo

The amount of sunlight being absorbed or reflected by Earth is one of the driving forces for weather and climate. Satellites are providing this information with unprecedented accuracy.

Posted: Sep 6th, 2013

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A radiating beauty on Mars

Exceptional structures deposited and shaped by water and winds adorn these interlocking craters and sculpt radiating patterns in the sands of Mars.

Posted: Sep 6th, 2013

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The quasar and its Fata Morgana

Astronomers discover how the image of a distant quasar splits into multiple images by the effects of a cloud of ionized gas in our own Milky Way Galaxy. Such events were predicted as early as in the 1970s, but the first evidence for one now has come from observations performed with the telescope array VLBA and analysed in the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.

Posted: Sep 6th, 2013

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