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A Wet Mars

Stunning news from the red planet! The Curiosity rover has found evidence that at least one part of Mars, where the robot is now, once had fresh water, a warm climate, and the right chemistry to support life as we know it!

Bad Astronomy has the scoop, and it’s difficult for me to think of anything more to say that isn’t just the noise of raw excitement.

This still isn’t evidence of Martian life, past or present, but it is a clear indicator that it’s worthwhile to keep looking. It doesn’t mean that we’ll find life, or that life is or once was there for us to find. But consider that life arose on Earth almost as soon as the planet had the conditions to support it, and we have found the right sort of organic molecules elsewhere in the Solar system, and it definitely seems like we have a good shot at finding something if we keep looking.

And that’s the announcement I really want to read, that solid evidence of extraterrestrial life has been found. This is a step in that direction, if only because it encourages us to keep looking.

Full of stars

Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy has once again blown my mind. If you never click another link on this blog, click this one. It’s a pan & zoomable hi res image of the Milky Way disc. There are a billion stars in that picture.

Pick any random spot and zoom in and feel amazed. I liked zooming in on the galactic core, but there’s no boring spots that I saw (except for the blacked out sections hiding the alien civilizations ;þ). There’s so much going on in there, and every pixel represents an area vastly larger than that ever occupied by humans throughout our entire history.

Naturally, it had to be taken from Earth, since we can’t get any cameras far enough away to make any difference. Which means there’s still much more of our galaxy not visible in that image. Read the rest of this entry

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