'Cauliflower rocks' in Mars may hold clues to ancient life

For decades, astronomers have been searching for signs of life on planet Mars. However, while detecting some favorable clues – such as liquid water and traces of chemicals that abound in Earth – scientists still can’t definitely answer the big question: Is there life in Mars?

More recently, another piece of the so-called “Martian puzzle” had caught the attention of astronomers: strange “cauliflower-shaped” structures, photographed by the Spirit Rover in Mars’ Gusev Crater way back in 2008.

When analyzed by Spirit's mini-TES (Mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer), they proved to be made of nearly pure silica (SiO2), a mineral that forms in…

Read more: 'Cauliflower rocks' in Mars may hold clues to ancient life

Earth is made of two fused planets?

Astronomers are now forwarding what may be the most radical theory yet about the Earth’s formation: our mother planet may actually be two planets, fused together following a collision.

A team of researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles, investigating how the Moon formed, have concluded that it was produced after a small planet – which they call “Theia” – smashed headfirst “violently” into Earth around 4.5 billion years ago.

The radical theory comes on the heels of past proposals that “Theia” simply side-swiped Earth, blasting the Moon into orbit, and then continuing off into space.

The astronomers analyzed…

Read more: Earth is made of two fused planets?

Climate change killed off aliens?

Scientists have spent decades looking for signs of life outside planet Earth, mostly with promising signs but no conclusive evidence.

However, a group of astrobiologists from the Australian National University now suggests that we should not have wasted our time and money looking for extraterrestrial (ET) life-forms.

The reason? Yes, aliens MIGHT have existed – but climate change killed them off quite quickly.

In a paper published recently in the journal Astrobiology, the researchers hypothesize that alien life forms may well have arisen many times in many different places, but were quickly snuffed out when extreme heating or cooling rendered…

Read more: Climate change killed off aliens?

Zebra stripes not for camouflage?

Scientists have long thought that the black-and-white stripes that had been the trademark of zebras have a special purpose: to act as camouflage against predators.

However, a new study released by scientists from the University of Calgary in Canada recently concluded that this wasn’t the case.

“The most long-standing hypothesis for zebra striping is crypsis, or camouflaging, but until now the question has always been framed through human eyes,” said the study’s lead author, Amanda Melin, an assistant professor of biological anthropology at the University of Calgary.

“We, instead, carried out a series of calculations through which we were able…

Read more: Zebra stripes not for camouflage?

9th planet lurks in outer solar system

For those disappointed by Pluto’s “expulsion” from the solar system, there is another planet may be lurking in the fringes, according to US astronomers.

California Institute of Technology astronomer Mike Brown recently postulated in a paper published on Astronomical Journal the possibility of the existence of a gas planet “10 times larger than Earth” beyond the planet Neptune.

Along with his colleague Konstantin Batygin, Brown used mathematical models and computer simulations to deduce the planet’s existence, but they also have some observational evidence to support their claim. Several small icy bodies in the Kuiper Belt region beyond Neptune have quirks…

Read more: 9th planet lurks in outer solar system

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