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Meteorites helped with the formation of the Earth.


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Meteorites Earth.
Meteorites that rained down early on during the formation of the Earth.

Smallest Extrasolar Planet Found.

A team of European Astronomers have used the European Southern Observatory's HARPS Instrument to find the smallest extrasolar planet ever discovered; it's believed to be only 14 times the mass of the Earth. The planet orbits a star called mu Arae every 9.5 days, which is located 50 light-years away in the southern constellation of the Altar. A planet this size lies right at the boundary between rocky planets and gas giants. But since it's so close to its parent star, it's probably rocky, with a relatively small atmosphere, so it would be classified as a "super Earth".

Meteorites Help Evolution of Life on Earth.

Phosphorus is central to life on Earth for many reasons; it forms the backbone of DNA and RNA, and it's an important element in many chemical processes. The questions is, how did the Earth get so much of it? Researchers from the University of Arizona believe that the meteorites that rained down early on during the formation of the Earth could have been the source. They found that many iron-nickel meteorites are rich with minerals that contain phosphorus, and propose that life could have formed around a spot where a meteorite struck the Earth.

Cassini Completes Orbital manoeuvre.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft completed a 51-minute engine burn that raised its orbit away from Saturn. When it first arrived at the Ringed Planet, Cassini passed very close to the planet and went right through the rings. On its next flyby, it'll pass outside the rings and make its first close-up flyby of Titan at a distance of only 1,200 km (746 miles) - nearly 300 times closer than its previous flyby. Cassini is expected to make 45 visits to Titan over the next 4 years, and some will be even closer.

Martian Crater With Dunes.

This image of a Martian crater was taken by the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft in May, 2004. The crater is unevenly weathered, with a gentle slope on the wind-facing side, and a steep slope on the lee-side - on Earth these features are called 'barchanes’, and usually form in arid regions. There's a dune field on the bottom of the crater, that seems to be composed of sand of volcanic origin; how it got to the bottom of this crater is a mystery.

Huge Planet.

Planet hunting has traditionally only been possible with very large telescopes, capable of detecting tiny changes around distant stars which indicate the presence of planets. But now a team of Astronomers have found their first extrasolar planet using a 4-inch telescope essentially developed with off-the-shelf equipment. The new Jupiter-sized planet is located about 500 light-years away, and was discovered using the transit method, which looks for a dip in a star's brightness as a planet passes in front. The team surveyed 12,000 stars in an area half the size of the Big Dipper's bowl, and turned up 16 candidates for planets. Follow up observations with larger observatories confirmed which ones had planets, and which didn't.

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