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Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?
NASA's Cassini spacecraft took this image of Saturn's F-ring, with one of its shepherd moons, Pandora also in view. Pandora is only 84 km (52 miles) across, but it clearly has a powerful effect on the ring, causing ripples, knots and twists in the ring from afar. You can see the entire shape of Pandora in this picture, because reflected light from Saturn illuminates the moon's dark side.
Does life exist elsewhere in the Universe? This question continues to puzzle scientists, but now Professor David Catling at Bristol University thinks that significant oxygen in the atmosphere and oceans of a distant planet are required for complex organisms to evolve. The fact that it took almost 4 billion years here on Earth means that other planets might not have a lot of time to evolve complex life. Since our Sun still has another 4 billion years before it dies, life has time to flourish, but planets around other, more short-lived stars might not be so lucky.
When NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft smashes into Comet Tempel 1 in about 2 weeks, every instrument on Earth and in space will be watching carefully. One spacecraft, the European Space Agency's Rosetta, was built to visit a different comet, so it has a suite of instruments designed for this very job. Rosetta will be 80 million km (50 million miles) away from the Comet when it collides with Deep Impact, and will watch the resulting puff of debris in various wavelengths.
The unpiloted Progress 18 cargo ship docked with the International Space Station on Saturday, delivering a fresh batch of supplies. The spacecraft nearly connected automatically to the Zvezda Service Module, but Commander Sergei Krikalev had to take over because of communications problems between ground control and the Progress.ship. It's loaded up with food, propellant, oxygen, water, spare parts, and experiment hardware. It also brought along the new camera system that will help astronauts inspect the Space Shuttle for damage when it docks.
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