Mars

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By Unknown
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Mars may have once been capable of supporting microbial life for hundreds of millions of years in the distant past, new findings from a long-lived Red Planet rover suggest.

NASA's Opportunity rover, which celebrates 10 years of Mars exploration today (Jan. 24), has uncovered evidence that benign, nearly neutral-pH water flowed on the Red Planet around 4 billion years ago.
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Via: Bad Astronomy
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From Bad Astronomy:

Most craters you see are pretty simple: something impacts the ground at high speed, BOOM!, and you get a crater like a dish tossed into soft sand. But this one has two rings, one inside the other. That can happen with huge impacts producing craters hundreds of kilometers across, but this one is small, only 230 meters from side to side – an American football stadium would just fit inside this crater.
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By Unknown
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A group of researchers have been living in Hawaii as though they were actually living on Mars. And what did they do to keep themselves occupied? They cooked.

So what did the researchers -- and the people who suggested recipes for them to try out -- come up with? Lots of stuff involving Spam, for one thing, including a Cajun jambalaya and a dish that married the canned meat with curry and fried noodles. A chicken-spinach-enchilada soup, for another. Seafood chowder, for another. And borscht. Freeze-dried fruit, too, they found, was surprisingly similar in taste to fresh produce. As for comfort food -- crucial when it comes to the combating-food-boredom aspect of things -- a universal hit was ... Nutella. "It's something we craved," team commander Angelo Vermeulen told the AP. "We had a limited supply so we had to ration it."
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Via: New Yorker
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There once were two planets, new to the galaxy and inexperienced in life. Like fraternal twins, they were born at the same time, about four and a half billion years ago, and took roughly the same shape. Both were blistered with volcanoes and etched with watercourses; both circled the same yellow dwarf star—close enough to be warmed by it, but not so close as to be blasted to a cinder. Had an alien astronomer swivelled his telescope toward them in those days, he might have found them equally promising—nurseries in the making. They were large enough to hold their gases close, swaddling themselves in atmosphere; small enough to stay solid, never swelling into gaseous giants. They were "Goldilocks planets," our own astronomers would say: just right for life.
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