Stepsister Venus

Venus used to be described as a sister planet because it shares a similar size, mass, and composition with Earth. But the similarities end there. Venus’s 900-degree-Fahrenheit temperature, sulfuric acid atmosphere, and overwhelming air pressure…

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The ten year watch

In the early hours of 1 March 2002, the largest Earth observation satellite ever built soared into orbit from ESA’s launch base in Kourou, French Guiana. For a decade, Envisat has been keeping watch over…

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The Hayabusa Booty

The first dust grains ever retrieved from the surface of an asteroid now confirm that these minor planets are constantly shaped by a continuous barrage of high-speed microscopic impacts, scientists find. The Japanese asteroid probe…

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A newly discovered planet 4,000 light-years away is just too dense. Dubbed CoRoT-20b, the planet is thought to be a gas giant about four-fifths the size of Jupiter and orbits close to a sunlike star….

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Steamy windows for possible settlers

This looks like a mighty cool – hot – planet. A waterworld under an atmosphere of water vapor. There could be boiling some life over there! It’s clear (yet damp) that there’s a whole lot…

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Tellurium in the distance

Nearly 13.7 billion years ago, the universe was made of only hydrogen, helium and traces of lithium — byproducts of the Big Bang. Some 300 million years later, the very first stars emerged, creating additional…