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Earth was like in past by examining glaciers.
When humans first step onto the surface of Mars in the coming decades, they'll be like kids in a candy store; so many rocks to turn over or chip away at. Is that discoloured patch algae? A team of Spanish engineers are working on a Cyborg Astrobiologist that could help observe the landscape with a video camera, see what the astronauts see, and suggest places that might be interesting for further study. Larry Klaes reports on this interesting new technology, but he thinks robots could use a system like this even sooner.
Scientists can tell us what our climate on Earth was like in past by examining ice cores taken from glaciers. Tiny bubbles of air are trapped in the ice and maintain a historical record of ancient atmospheres. The effects of life make their mark in these ice samples as well. What if you examined the icecaps on Mars, or the layers of ice on Europa? NASA is considering a proposal for a small spacecraft that would land on Mars or Europa and melt its way throught the ice, collecting data as it descended, searching for clues about the presence of life.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft took this picture of Saturn with its Moon Tethys in the foreground. Tethys is 1,071 (665 miles) across. Cassini took this image on June 10, 2005 when it was approximately 1.4 million km (900,000 miles) away from Saturn.
Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have found a dusty disk around a star which is 25 million years old. Planetary disks like this have been seen before, but never around a star which is so old; it's possible it'll never form planets. Most planetary disks make the transition within just a few million years, and the previous record was 10 million years. The disk still has a lot of gas in it, so researchers think it's still possible that it could form gas giants.
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