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Stories by John Matson

The New Way to Look for Mars Life: Follow the Salt

LOS ANGELES—There is probably water on Mars, but you wouldn't want to drink it. It's salty, viscous and quite possibly toxic. But astrobiologists are nonetheless excited about the possibility.Just in the past few years, orbiter cameras and Mars landers have gathered evidence that watery liquid does exist on the Red Planet, at least during some part of the day or some part of the year...

February 6, 2013 — John Matson

Cassini Spacecraft Reveals Unprecedented Saturn Storm

Just as regions of our planet have monsoon season, or tornado season, so too does Saturn have its own stormy season.Once every Saturn year or so—which corresponds to roughly 30 Earth years—a giant, churning storm works its way through the clouds of Saturn's northern hemisphere, sometimes encircling the entire planet like a belt...

January 17, 2013 — John Matson

Asteroids: Close and Closer, but Not Too Close for Comfort

Early this morning, while most of the U.S. slept, a once-menacing asteroid drew close to Earth on its usual rounds through the inner solar system. The 300-meter asteroid, known as Apophis, kept a comfortable distance, flying well beyond the orbit of the moon...

January 9, 2013 — John Matson

Top 10 Space Stories of 2012

Now that 2012 has really and truly been put to bed, let’s look at the year that was in space exploration and astronomy.My choice for #1 was a no-brainer: not only is spectacular science already rolling in, but the top space event of the year—the August landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars—also crossed over into mainstream news coverage in a big way...

January 4, 2013 — John Matson

California Meteor Broke Speed Record for Atmospheric Entry

Meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens must move quickly to trap evidence of a fresh meteorite fall. In 2008, a small asteroid roughly three meters across struck Earth’s atmosphere over northern Sudan, producing a brilliant fireball in the sky...

December 20, 2012 — John Matson
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