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Ingredients for life revealed in meteorites that fell to Earth

16 January 2018 Astronomy Now

Two wayward space rocks, which separately crashed to Earth in 1998 after circulating in our solar system’s asteroid belt for billions of years, share something else in common: the ingredients for life. They are the first meteorites found to contain both liquid water and a mix of complex organic compounds such as hydrocarbons and amino acids.

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Plot thickens as New Horizons moves within year of next flyby

6 January 2018 Stephen Clark

The final days before NASA’s New Horizons probe barrels in on its next destination on Jan. 1, 2019, should prove eventful, with scientists trying to sort out whether a distant mini-world detected by the Hubble Space Telescope more than three years ago may actually be a swarm of icy objects.

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New data debunks alien megastructure theory on mysterious “Tabby’s Star”

3 January 2018 Astronomy Now

A team of more than 100 researchers is one step closer to solving the mystery behind the “most mysterious star in the Universe.” KIC 8462852, or “Tabby’s Star,” nicknamed after Boyajian, is otherwise an average star. It is about 50 percent bigger and 1,000 degrees hotter than the Sun. It is more than 1,000 light-years away. However, it has been inexplicably dimming and brightening sporadically like no other. Several theories abound to explain the star’s unusual light patterns including an alien megastructure orbiting the star.

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Arecibo radar returns with asteroid Phaethon images

29 December 2017 Astronomy Now

After several months of downtime since Hurricane Maria struck the island of Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Observatory Planetary Radar has returned to normal operation, providing the highest-resolution images to date of near-Earth asteroid 3200 Phaethon during its December 2017 close approach to Earth.

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An interview with David Grinspoon

28 December 2017 Astronomy Now

As part of the new Gravity Assist podcast, NASA’s Director of Planetary Science Jim Green interviewed David Grinspoon of the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona about the planet Venus and what makes the second world from the Sun so hellish compared to Earth.