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Organic cemeteries could dominate ancient Mars

...two complementary studies support the popular theory that the Red Planet once hosted vast lakes, flowing rivers and a variety of other wet environments that had the potential to support life...

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XMM detects nova everyone else missed was one of the brightest nova events of the decade and clearly visible to the naked eye, yet no one but the XMM-Newton space telescope was there for the party...

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'No organics' zone circles Pinwheel galaxy

...the Pinwheel galaxy has been observed through Spitzer’s infrared eyes, revealing a zone in which organic molecules suddenly disappear...

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Video archive

STS-120 day 2 highlights

Flight Day 2 of Discovery's mission focused on heat shield inspections. This movie shows the day's highlights.


STS-120 day 1 highlights

The highlights from shuttle Discovery's launch day are packaged into this movie.


STS-118: Highlights

The STS-118 crew, including Barbara Morgan, narrates its mission highlights film and answers questions in this post-flight presentation.

 Full presentation
 Mission film

STS-120: Rollout to pad

Space shuttle Discovery rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and travels to launch pad 39A for its STS-120 mission.


Dawn leaves Earth

NASA's Dawn space probe launches aboard a Delta 2-Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral to explore two worlds in the asteroid belt.

 Full coverage

Dawn: Launch preview

These briefings preview the launch and science objectives of NASA's Dawn asteroid orbiter.

 Launch | Science

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Phoenix in 24-hour monitoring assignment

Posted: July 22, 2008

To coordinate with observations made by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter flying repeatedly overhead, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander stayed up all night for the first time on Monday to make simultaneous measurements of the atmosphere and ground.

On Monday evening, Phoenix used its weather station, stereo camera and thermal and conductivity probe to monitor changes in the lower atmosphere and ground surface at the same time NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter studied the atmosphere and ground from above, in order to track and monitor any time-of-day changes in the local environment. These changes could come in the form of ice trapped in the soil by-passing its liquid phase and sublimating directly into a vapour, entering the atmosphere directly from the soil.

"We are looking for patterns of movement and phase change," says Michael Hecht, lead scientist for Phoenix's Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyser (MECA), which includes the conductivity probe. "The probe is working great. We see some changes in soil electrical properties, which may be related to water, but we're still chewing on the data."

The double doors of oven number zero on the right hand side of the TEGA instrument are open and ready to gobble up a sample of icy soil. The doors are about 10 centimetres tall. Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University.

But there will be no rest following Phoenix’s 24-hour assignment; the busy lander continues to test techniques for collecting a sample of icy soil to be delivered into an oven of the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyser (TEGA). Over the weekend, images from the Surface Stereo Camera confirmed that the doors of the oven chosen to get the first icy sample – oven zero – are wide open and ready for procedures to begin. This is the third oven to be opened since Phoenix landed on Martian soil almost two months ago, and the first time that both doors of an oven have successfully opened to their full extent.


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May 30 Phoenix flexes robotic arm read more

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