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Big Picture Science Radio Show: A Stellar Job

Stars do more than just twinkle. These boiling balls of hot plasma can tell us something about other celestial phenomena. They betray the hiding places of black holes, for one. But sometimes they fool us. One of the most intriguing discoveries in astrobiology - that of the potentially habitable exoplanet Gliese 581g - may have been just a mirage.
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  • Stars do more than just twinkle. These boiling balls of hot plasma can tell us something about other celestial phenomena. They betray the hiding places of black holes, for one. But sometimes they fool us. One of the most intriguing discoveries in astrobiology - that of the potentially habitable exoplanet Gliese 581g - may have been just a mirage.

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  • You asked, and SETI Institute President and CEO, David Black answered! Check out some of the questions that SETI Institute fans posed this week.

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  • She directs the International Space Orchestra and works as designer of experiences for the SETI Institute – and now Nelly ben Hayoun has won a prestigious award from Wired magazine.

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  • Debbie Kolyer, who is the Institute’s Manager of Grants Administration, now has a stony sibling. In recognition of her work to further research at the SETI Institute, including meteor observations from aircraft, the International Astronomical Union has chosen to name an asteroid after her: 8803 Kolyer.

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  • With its subsurface water ocean and relatively young icy surface Europa is among the top candidates in the search for habitable environments in our solar system. Existence of water vapor plumes on Europa has long been speculated and could possibly provide accessibility of subsurface liquid reservoirs.

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  • The final assembly of terrestrial planets is now universally thought to have occurred through a series of giant impacts, such as Earth's own Moon-forming impact. In the aftermath of one of these collisions the surviving planet is hot, and can remain hot for millions of years. The presence of a dense post-impact atmosphere will affect both the cooling of the planet and our ability to detect it.

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  • An international research team led by the SETI Institute’s Nathalie Cabrol has measured the highest level of solar ultraviolet ever recorded on Earth. The measures were made in the Andes mountains, where Cabrol studies environments that are analogs for Mars.

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  • The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a dedicated facility for directly imaging and spectroscopically characterizing extrasolar planets and has been tuned for maximum sensitivity to faint planets near bright stars.

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  • SETI Institute scientist Matija Cuk has received the highest honor for a young planetary scientist from the American Astronomical Society.

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  • After approximately 3 years studying the engineering problem we have concluded that a minimally modified Dragon capsule (which we call the "Red Dragon") could successfully perform an all-propulsive Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL). We present and discuss the analysis that supports this conclusion.

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