Credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

It's been three years since NASA announced its 3-D Printed Habitat Competition, sending designers and architects scrambling to imagine the best design for a home on Mars—one that could be constructed using materials already available on Earth's neighbor planet.

Now, Nasa has announced the top three finalists, and their designs are something else.

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MARS - JANUARY 6: In this handout released by NASA, a portion of the first color image of Mars that was taken by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is seen January 6, 2003. The rover landed on Mars January 3 and sent it's first high resolution color image January 6. (Photo by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/ Cornell University via Getty Images)

Mars has intrigued us humans down here on Earth for centuries, and the Red Planet isn't out of surprises.

While much of the public focus is on Mars' water supply—present and prehistoric—this latest mystery doesn't hinge on a liquid, but a gas. Specifically: methane.

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Credit: NASA

Opportunity was only given 90 days to live after landing on the tempestuous surface of Mars in 2004. Fourteen and a half years past its original 90 day mission, the little rover that could has finally ended its quest.

The news comes months after the Rover stopped replying to commands left by technicians on Earth. Despite over 835 attempts to revive Opportunity remotely, it was declared dead on February 13, 2019.

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It lasts just milliseconds, but it could be a turning point in space research. Since July, Canada’s CHIME Telescope has received Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) from across the universe. It may be the first time Earth has received a signal from an alien civilization — or the cry of a dying star.

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment in British Columbia began operations in 2017, with the overarching goal of collecting data about dark energy, the mysterious force that comprises 70% of the universe. More specifically, the journal Nature describes CHIME’s mission as “[mapping] the density of interstellar hydrogen across the Universe in the epoch between 10 billion and 8 billion years ago.” Part of the data collected includes FRB. Since the first transmission in July, many more FRB have been received by the CHIME telescope, but researchers can’t say where they’re coming from or what might be sending them.

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Just how prophetic was Star Trek? Based on a recent discovery, it seems a lot. Astronomers have recently discovered an exoplanet orbiting 40 Eridani A, a star known to hard-core Star-Trek fans as Spock’s home planet, Vulcan. While no one is actually suggesting that any pointy-eared aliens live on this newly discovered exoplanet, the discovery is undeniably coincidental.

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PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 14: Scientist Stephen Hawking of "Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking" speaks via satellite during the Science Channel portion of the 2010 Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 14, 2010 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

In March of this year, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76 due to complications from the motor neuron disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or ALS). The debilitating disease left him relatively immobile and confined to a wheelchair. Upon losing his ability to speak, he communicated by interacting with an electronic device that synthesized words. He rose to worldwide fame for his teachings on space-time and the universe, and now it is fitting that a part of him has been sent into space. 

Hawking spent most of his career studying black holes. Black holes represent an area of space where massive gravitational forces have deformed and collapsed space on itself, where nothing can escape the gravitational pull once an object has passed the point of no return known as the “event horizon.” Astrophysicists, such as Hawking, have postulated that no object is immune to the gravitational force of a black hole, whether electromagnetic radiation or particles of matter. Albert Einstein’s general relativity theory supports the concept of the formation of a black hole. Notably, Hawking discovered that from just beyond the event horizon, black holes emit a special form of radiation that has been termed Hawking radiation.

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As anyone who’s tried astronaut ice cream as a child can attest, space food can be a bit... odd.

However, it’s about to get much odder, as researchers at Penn State have just found a way to convert astronauts’ poop into an edible substance reminiscent of Vegemite, the controversial Australian yeast spread.

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