Photos: Mars rover Curiosity
February 20th, 2013
06:35 PM ET

Mars rover drills, sees planet's true colors

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

Mars may have a lot of orangey dust flying around, but now that a rover has retrieved a sample by drilling a rock there, scientists believe the Red Planet may have another color beneath the surface.

The two-ton Mars rover Curiosity, which has been exploring Gale Crater since its miraculous landing on August 6, has become the first robot to drill into a rock to collect a sample on Mars, scientists reported Wednesday. Chemical analyses are still to come, but for now the big news is that the material from the drill appears to be gray.

"We’re sort of seeing a new coloration for Mars here, and it’s an exciting one to us," said Joel Hurowitz, sampling system scientist for Curiosity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Filed under: In Space • Mars • News
Space telescope spots smallest planet beyond our Sun
February 20th, 2013
04:06 PM ET

Space telescope spots smallest planet beyond our Sun

By Matt Smith, CNN

It's not the kind of place you'd call home: an airless, rocky planet so close to its sun that some metals will melt on its surface.

But it's a big little discovery for NASA's space observatory Kepler. The space agency says the planet, dubbed Kepler-37b, is the smallest yet found beyond our solar system.

Slightly larger than the moon and about a third the size of Earth, it's one of three planets circling the star Kepler-37, NASA announced Wednesday - and the first of dozens of discovered exoplanets known to be smaller than any that orbit our sun.

The findings were reported in this week's edition of the journal Nature.

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Filed under: In Space • Kepler
NASA restores communication with International Space Station
February 20th, 2013
09:35 AM ET

NASA restores communication with International Space Station

NASA restored communication with the International Space Station on Tuesday after connections went dark following a routine computer software update.

Before the fix, the space agency said the craft was able to communicate only every 90 minutes when it passed over ground stations in Russia.

"This is the same way they used to do it in the 1960s, with Gemini and Apollo," NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said.

The station, which is carrying two American astronauts, three Russian cosmonauts and a Canadian astronaut, did not appear to be in danger.

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Filed under: Hardware in Orbit • In Space

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