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Earth-like planets around other stars.
Many of the sky's most interesting objects, like gamma-ray bursts and supernovae, change within days or even hours. It's very difficult for traditional observatories to dedicate the kind of time required to watch the evolution of these objects, but a new class of instruments will help Astronomers stay on top of them. ULTRACAM will track changes in brightness that last only a thousandths of a second, while Super WASP can watch an area of sky 1000x the size of the Moon, looking for anything unusual. And a new network of robotic Telescopes could be the best tool for spotting Earth-like planets around other stars until big space observatories are launched in the next decade.
Using a NASA aircraft which flies over the Arctic, Harvard scientists have made observations of a molecule which is believed to be responsible for destroying stratospheric ozone. The substance is called chlorine peroxide, and it's formed from industrial materials used in refrigeration. These have been banned for several years, but they can persist in the high atmosphere for decades. This new data will allow scientists to better forecast the future degradation of the ozone layer, and regions which might let in more solar radiation.
After it had finished examining "Adirondack", NASA's Spirit rover drove right over it and kept on moving for another 6.4 metres. This was the first test of the rover's autonomous navigation system, which steered it clear of rocks as it moved towards a crater 250 metres away. Opportunity completed its journey to the rocky outcropping on the side of the crater that the rover landed in. Close examination of the bedrock showed strange spheres of sand embedded into the layers of rock.
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