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Our Sun is in the middle age of life.
Our Sun is in the middle age of life, and that's a good thing for us here on Earth. But in a few billion years, when the Sun runs out of Hydrogen to fuel its massive fusion furnace, it will balloon into a massive red giant, engulfing the inner planets, including the Earth, before it shrinks again into a white dwarf. Is that the end of our solar system? Maybe not. Although they might get a little (okay... a lot) scorched, the outer planets might actually survive the experience in one piece. German researchers have found the first planet orbiting a White Dwarf star, so there appears there's a future for planets when their star becomes a red giant.
A key instrument for the search of life on Mars has discovered it in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. The instrument, called the Mars Organic Analyzer, will be installed into the European Space Agency's ExoMars mission due for launch in 2011. It was able to see evidence of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, in soil at Chile's Atacama desert. The next step will be to build an instrument that can fit in the allowed space of the ExoMars spacecraft.
NASA's Deep Impact spotted an outburst of ice and gas from the surface of Comet Tempel 1, which has been turned into a short animation of several frames. This is the second outburst Astronomers have seen from the Comet this month, and gives Astronomers a great opportunity to fine tune instruments in space and here on Earth to get the most science out of the July 4 "encounter".
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