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Mars rover digs up intriguing clues in the hunt for life beyond Earth

Perseverance sends infor from MarsOn the floor of a shallow crater on Mars, the NASA rover Perseverance has hit what scientists are hoping is pay dirt. Martian rocks excavated by the rover show signs of a watery past and are loaded with the kind of organic molecules that are the foundation for life as we know it.

Scientists collaborating on the mission also say the rock samples, which the rover has cached in tubes for a future return to Earth, have the right chemical recipe to preserve evidence of ancient Martian life, if it ever existed.

The new Perseverance research is detailed in three extensive studies published Wednesday, one in the journal Science and two in the journal Science Advances. The journal reports are highly technical and devoid of hype — daring to be dull as dirt — but the scientists involved translate them into a more exciting tale.



NASA's Orion spacecraft reaches far side of moon, completes first such attempt since 1972

NASA's ArtemisNASA's Artemis I Orion spacecraft completed a powered flyby maneuver on the far side of the moon on Monday, bringing it just 81 miles above the surface at 7:57 a.m. ET, a move that hasn't been attempted by a human-rated spacecraft since NASA's Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

The outbound powered flyby was the result of one of four positioning burns of Orion's Orbital Maneuvering System engine planned during the 26-day Artemis I mission to the moon and back.


James Webb telescope spots galaxies near the dawn of time, thrilling scientists

Webb telescope images thrilling scientists

New baby pictures of the universe, taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, show that galaxies started forming faster and earlier than expected.

The telescope launched back in December and it now orbits the sun about a million miles away from Earth. Its giant mirror allows it to detect faint light that's been traveling for almost the entire history of the 13.8 billion-year-old universe. That means it can effectively see what galaxies looked like way back in time.

The snapshots captured so far have both thrilled and perplexed scientists, because it turns out that many luminous galaxies existed when the universe was very young.

"Just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, there are already lots of galaxies," says Tommaso Treu, an astronomer at the University of California at Los Angeles. "JWST has opened up a new frontier, bringing us closer to understanding how it all began."


Nasa’s Artemis 1, most powerful rocket in history, blasts off to moon

Artemis launches to the moonTwo hurricanes, two months and a number of technical fixes since previous launch attempts were thwarted, and Nasa’s Artemis 1, the most powerful space rocket in history, is finally on course for the moon after lifting off from Florida early on Wednesday.

The spacecraft, comprising the mighty Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and pioneering Orion capsule, lit the night sky as it rose from its Cape Canaveral launchpad at 1.47am ET. The 25-day, 1.3m-mile journey to the moon and back is Nasa’s first crew-capable deep-space mission for half a century.

“On behalf of all the men and women across our great nation who have worked to bring this hardware together to make this day possible, and for the Artemis generation, this is for you,” the launch director, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, said shortly after liftoff.


Crack in Earth's magnetic field triggers extremely rare pink auroras witnessed in Norway

Rare pink aurorasWant to know what the night sky looks like after a solar storm smashes into earth and rips a hole into the planet’s magnetic field?

The combination of cosmic events led to a rare explosion of strikingly vivid pink auroras the filled Norway's night sky. The unusual colored light show lasted for around two minutes and was caused by a crack in Earth's magnetic field, enabling highly energetic solar particles, known as solar wind, to enter into the atmosphere on Nov. 3, according to

Greenlander tour company guide Markus Varik spotted the auroras at around 6 p.m. while leading a tour group near Tromsø, Norway, Varik told USA TODAY.  Although the pink auroras weren’t the best he’s ever witnessed before, the color's intensity was “super rare” and “almost never happens,” Varik said.


A secretive Space Force plane completed its longest mission yet

Secret Space Force plane

Loud booms heard in Florida marked the return of the X-37B, the U.S. Space Force's uncrewed orbital test vehicle, after the secretive space plane's sixth and longest mission yet.

After 908 days in orbit, the Boeing vehicle touched down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida early Saturday morning.

NASA conducted a number of experiments during the trip, the Space Force said in a statement.

It was also the first X-37B mission to include a service module, which the Space Force as "a ring attached to the rear of the vehicle expanding the number of experiments that can be hosted during a mission."

Beyond that, not much is known about the X-37B's missions. Officials have released scant information about a few experiments that took place aboard the latest flight.



See stunning photos of the last total lunar eclipse until 2025

lunar eclipse

Early Tuesday, some Americans caught a glimpse of a total lunar eclipse – a phenomenon that won't happen for another three years.

It's the first Election Day total lunar eclipse in U.S. history, according to

The eclipse was also visible in Asia, Australia and the Pacific, according to the website.

It began Tuesday at 3:02 a.m. EST, and totality (when the moon is engulfed in Earth's shadow) began at 5:16 a.m. EST. The event ended at 6:41 a.m. EST.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon and the sun are on exact opposite sides of Earth, according to NASA., and is also called a blood moon.

When this happens, Earth blocks the sunlight that normally reaches the moon. Instead of that sunlight hitting the moon’s surface, Earth's shadow falls on it.


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