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Asteroid that stuck the Earth off the coast of Australia.
Approximately 250 million years ago, something nearly wiped out life on Earth; 90% of marine animals and 80% of land animals were snuffed out in the geologic blink of an eye. Researchers now believe they've found the culprit: an 8 to 11 km (5 to 7 mile) asteroid that stuck the Earth off the coast of Australia. The impact happened so long ago, there isn't a crater, but geologists have found several clues that lead to this spot, including deposits of "shocked quartz" which can only be formed in a violent event like an asteroid strike.
One of the big goals of astronomy is to answer the question: are we alone? In order to find out the answer, NASA is planning to launch two separate space observatories within the next 10-15 years which will be capable of finding Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. Terrestrial planet Finder-C will be a moderately sized optical telescope launched by 2014 capable of blocking the glare from a star in order to be able to see planets orbiting it. planet Finder-I will launch by 2020, and comprise multiple spacecraft flying in formation which will simulate a much larger observatory.
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