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Morgan Saletta, University of Melbourne and Kevin Orrman-Rossiter, University of Melbourne Last month NASA gave the “all systems go” for a new mission to Europa. But why go back? After all, we’re still sifting through the data from the Galileo probes fly-bys from more than a decade ago. The short answer: it’s all about life. […]

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Lake Vostok: life beneath the ice

Posted July 26, 2013 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Imagine, Lake Vostok is covered by more than 3,700 metres of Antarctic ice. Devoid of sunlight, it lies far below sea level in a depression that formed 60 million years ago, when the continental plates shifted and cracked. Few nutrients are available. Yet scientist, led by Scott Rogers, a Bowling Green State University professor of biological […]

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Long distance weather reports are now a commonality. The report for 2MASSJ22282889-431026 is somewhat unusual. It forecasts wind-driven, planet-sized clouds, with the light varying in time, brightening and dimming about every 90 minutes. The clouds on 2MASSJ22282889-431026 are composed of hot grains of sand, liquid drops of iron, and other exotic compounds. Definitely not the first […]

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Interstellar travel: how to spot a ‘starman’ going by

Posted February 23, 2013 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Massive objects moving at near light speeds do not occur naturally in the universe as we know it. If we detect such objects it is a reasonable to assume they are artificial artifacts from advanced intelligent life. This according to Garcia-Escartin and Chamorro-Posada, authors of a recent paper, is a low-cost, sure-fire way of searching […]

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NASA’s Curiosity shows there’s more to life than life

Posted December 13, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter, University of Melbourne and Helen Maynard-Casely, Australian Synchrotron The Curiosity rover has landed on Mars, driven around, started its scientific mission and, as of 4am today (AEDT), started reporting integrated science results. In a news conference at the American Geophysical Union NASA’s Curiosity mission team presented a measured, low-key and hype-free discussion […]

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Does my science look big in this? The astrobiology edition

Posted November 18, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

During the 20th century a powerful new idea gradually entered our consciousness and culture: cosmic evolution.  We are all par of a huge narrative: a cosmos billions of years old and billions of light years in extent. It is this idea that caught my attention this month via the proceedings of the Sao Paulo Advanced […]

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The NASA rover Curiosity is expected to be landing on Mars at 3:31 am August 6, 2012 (AEST).  It’s mission, lasting one Martian-year (98 Earth weeks),  is of scientific significance and perhaps even of human significance.  Curiosity will be fulfilling the prospecting stage of a step-by-step program of exploration, reconnaissance, prospecting and mining evidence for […]

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Who found the water on the Moon?

Posted March 28, 2012 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

At just over two tonnes, the second stage of an Atlas V rocket makes for an unusual ‘kinetic probe’.  Nonetheless on October 9, 2009 NASA deliberately impacted a spent Centaur rocket into the lunar south polar crater Cabeus.  The target area was a permanently shadowed region within this crater.  The impact, not surprisingly, ejected a […]

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Curiosity about life on Mars

Posted December 11, 2011 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong uttered one of the most remembered quotes of the 20th century, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind….” Millions of people heard these words as they watched, via grainy black and white television images, Neil Armstrong step from the landing pad of the Lunar Module […]

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The origins of life: made on Earth or not?

Posted September 8, 2011 By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

Two recent discoveries have strengthened the hypothesis that life on earth may have originated from organic material seeded by asteroids and meteorites.  The first comes from a new analysis of 12 meteorites and the second of dust from an asteroid.  The case for this has been building since the 1960s when scientists first started analysing […]

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