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It's unique in the Solar System, with a thick haze of hydrocarbons.


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Solar System.
It's unique in the Solar System, with a thick haze of hydrocarbons.

Faking Titan in the Lab.

Researchers from the University of Arizona have recreated some of the chemicals thought to be in the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. It's unique in the Solar System, with a thick haze of hydrocarbons; some scientists believe it's a similar environment to our own planet's early history. They created these chemicals by bombarding an analog of Titan's atmosphere with electrons, which produces "tholins" (organic polymers). These have been detected from Earth-based telescopes. By dissolving these tholins in liquid water creates amino acids, which are the building blocks for life.

Venus Transit on June 8.

On Tuesday, June 8, observers in Europe, Asia and Africa will be treated to a very rare event in astronomy: a transit of Venus across the surface of the Sun. The transit will begin at approximately 0520 UTC, and wrap up approximately 6 hours later. Don't look directly at the Sun, or through a telescope without a proper filter, as you can severely damage your eyes. The last transit happened on December 6, 1882, and the next will occur in 8 years; it will be visible from the Americas.

Opportunity Rover Analyzing Ejected Rock.

NASA's Opportunity rover is hard at work analyzing the rock that was blasted out of the "Endurance" crater. One rock, dubbed "Lion Stone" is unlike any of the others in the region. It was likely formed under wet conditions, like the exposed rock in Eagle Crater (where Opportunity landed), but it's a little different in mineralogy and colour. It might give researchers more conditions about the environment previous to the Eagle Crater rocks. NASA is still deciding whether or not to send the rover into the crater, as it might not be able to climb back out again.

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