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5 December 2012

AGU 2012: Days 1 and 2 Highlights

Greetings! It’s been a busy first two days of AGU, and it’s impossible to convey it all, but here are a few highlights: Monday morning was my poster presentation, so that prevented me from seeing very many talks. I did stop by the Mars talks long enough to hear ChemCam team member Darby Dyar give a talk summarizing the many challenges involved in getting quantitative numbers out of LIBS data, …

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3 February 2011

Planets, Planets Everywhere!

For there is a single general space, a single vast immensity which we may freely call Void; in it are innumerable globes like this one on which we live and grow. – Giordano Bruno, 1584 It’s looking more and more like Bruno was right. Yesterday the Kepler Space Telescope released its second batch of data, revealing an astounding 1235 new exoplanet candidates! For the uninitiated, Kepler is a space telescope …

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15 December 2010

AGU 2010: Day 1 – Astrobiology, Volcanoes, and More!

Planetary highlights from Day 1 of the Fall 2010 AGU conference: astrobiology, explosive volcanism, planetary atmospheres and lots of methane!

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2 December 2010

NASA Scientists Find Microbes with Arsenic DNA

NASA astrobiologists have found bacteria living in Mono Lake, CA that use arsenic rather than phosphorus as the backbone of it’s DNA and other biomolecules like ATP.

This is a pretty big deal! Until now, everyone thought that life required the elements C,H,N,O,P,S to survive, but the Mono Lake bacteria laugh in the face of that idea and use something typically though of as a deadly poison as a fundamental building block. Felisa Wolfe-Simon, the lead author of the study summed things up nicely when she said that “It has solved the challenge of being alive in a very different way.”

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