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Water below the surface of Mars.
NASA's Spirit rover has discovered an unusual patch of sand in a hollow on its journey to the crater "Bonneville". An unusual pattern of irregular lines and polygons in the soil could indicate the presence of a salty brine. This could mean there's liquid water right below the surface of Mars, which could harbour life - microbes thrive in similar environments on Earth. The rover dug a trench and examined the spot with its array of instruments, which scientists will study intensely back on Earth.
More details have emerged about Monday's deadly fire at a solid rocket processing plant in India. Nine employees were working on a segment of a test motor at the Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The team was in the final stage of removing fixtures from a recently-built motor when it exploded. Six were killed in the explosion and following fire, and three more escaped with burns. A committee has been appointed to uncover the events that led to the disaster.
The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft is all set to begin its 10-year odyssey to meet up with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The meeting point is at a spot 675 million kilometres from the Sun, when the Comet is at the furthest point along its orbit - the Comet will barely be active. As the Comet approaches the Sun, it will become active; its ices will evaporate, and small chunks will fly off the surface. Throughout the process, Rosetta will get a close-up look at an object that was formed with the beginning of the solar system. If all goes well, Rosetta will lift off on an Ariane 5 booster on February 26.
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