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New Horizons finds blue skies and water ice on Pluto

8 October 2015 Astronomy Now

The first colour images of Pluto’s atmospheric hazes returned by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last week — seen here backlit by the Sun — reveal that the hazes are blue. Also, in a second significant finding, New Horizons has detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on the dwarf planet.

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Asteroids found to be the Moon’s main ‘water supply’

3 October 2015 Astronomy Now

Water reserves found on the Moon are the result of asteroids acting as “delivery vehicles” and not of falling comets as was previously thought. Using computer simulation, scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the RAS Geosphere Dynamics Institute have discovered that a large asteroid can deliver more water to the lunar surface than the cumulative fall of comets over a billion year period.

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NASA confirms evidence that liquid water flows on today’s Mars

28 September 2015 Astronomy Now

New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious darkish streaks that appear to ebb and flow over time are seen on the Red Planet.

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Exo-asteroid debris shows how water reached Earth

7 May 2015 Astronomy Now

New research strongly suggests that water delivery via asteroids or comets is likely taking place in many other planetary systems, adding further support to the possibility water can be delivered to Earth-like planets via such bodies to create a suitable environment for the formation of life.