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Stories by Lee Billings

Supermassive Black Holes Make Merging Galaxies Green

Green as a color can mean animal, vegetable or mineral. It is the stuff of crocodiles, chlorophyll and copper patina, the essence of serpentine or of snakes in the grass, the hue of a glacial lake, a stagnant pond and the Chicago River on St...

April 3, 2015 — Lee Billings

After a Martian Marathon, NASA's Opportunity Rover Faces Uncertain Future

It's been a long time coming, but this week NASA's Mars Opportunity rover completed the first-ever Martian marathon. After landing on the Red Planet in January 2004 on a mission originally planned to only last 90 days, Opportunity has instead endured for more than a decade, and has taken eleven years and two months to [...]..

March 25, 2015 — Lee Billings

That's What Ya Call a 4-Star Planet

Astronomers report the discovery of only the second quadruple-star system known to host at least one planet. But they suspect there are a lot more such systems out there. Lee Billings reports
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March 19, 2015 — Lee Billings

Looking for Life In Our Soggy Solar System

Scientists are finding liquid water, the cornerstone for life as we know it, in surprising nooks and crannies of the solar system. Following Wednesday's news that there seem to be hydrothermal vents churning away in the warm, alkaline seas inside Saturn's moon Enceladus, researchers announced airtight evidence yesterday that Jupiter's moon Ganymede also has a [...]..

March 13, 2015 — Lee Billings

Bacteria Got an Early Fix on Nitrogen

New evidence points to the evolution of the ability for bacteria to grab nitrogen from the atmosphere some 3.2 billion years ago, about 1.2 billion years earlier than thought—with implications for finding extraterrestrial life...

February 23, 2015 — Lee Billings

Planet Hunters Bet Big on a Small Telescope to See Alien Earths

In 1990, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft briefly looked back from its journey out of the solar system, capturing a view of the faraway Earth. Carl Sagan called it the "pale blue dot." From more than 6 billion kilometers away, beyond the orbit of Pluto, it seemed remarkable that our planet was even visible...

January 27, 2015 — Lee Billings
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