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SlashGear 101: What is NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope?

SlashGear 101: What is NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope?

NASA's big news today is the first ever sighting of an Earth-sized planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone", but it's not the first time the Kepler Space Telescope has caught sight of a potentially intriguing distant rock. The space observatory has already cataloged almost 1,000 exoplanets spread across 76 different stellar systems, though Kepler-186f has the unique privilege of being the first "Earth cousin" spotted.

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Free flowing water on Mars needs to be protected from contamination

Free flowing water on Mars needs to be protected from contamination

NASA has put a number of probes onto the surface of Mars and in orbit around the red planet over the years. Each time NASA launches a mission to Mars, or any other body in our solar system, it takes steps to prevent any contamination of the planet. The problem is that as we explore the planets in our solar system for signs of life, we have to be sure that the life we might discover didn't get there because we contaminated the planet with life from Earth.

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Mars hit with thousands of Earth rocks possibly containing life following asteroid impact

Mars hit with thousands of Earth rocks possibly containing life following asteroid impact

Mars has been a playground for NASA's various robots and missions, and it was back in March that the Curiosity rover found evidence of conditions for habitable life, something that has cropped up in various degrees since then. According to some US researchers, it is possible that rocks containing life could have been blasted, so to speak, to the Red Planet from the Chicxulub impact that took out the dinosaurs and many other strikes.

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Life on Mars: Curiosity sends back first rock datings

Life on Mars: Curiosity sends back first rock datings

This week the NASA folks behind the Curiosity Mars rover mission have published a set of papers which suggest that they're closer than ever to finding habitable environments on the planet. These findings are pre-emptive in finding actual organic materials, and show how life could maybe, possibly have existed on Mars at one time. Basically the scientists on this project have said they're confident that there's a possibility of life at this point without literally saying they've found that life outright.

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NASA’s “MAVEN” Mars orbiter launched without a hitch

NASA’s “MAVEN” Mars orbiter launched without a hitch

NASA's Mars orbiter MAVEN launched successfully today from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1:28PM EST. Once it arrives in orbit around the Red Planet, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN orbiter will gather data about Mars' upper atmosphere to try and discover how exactly the planet got to be so dry and atmosphere-poor. Earlier probes suggest the planet used to be much more like Earth in terms of moisture and atmosphere thickness.

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