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September 20, 2013

House to vote on stopgap funding bill

(Continued)

There also is increasing speculation that Rouhani could use the sidelines of the U.N. gathering to seek — directly or indirectly — more dialogue with the White House following the recent exchange of letters with U.S. President Barack Obama. One possible pathway is a planned meeting in New York between British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Zarif.

NASA rover finds no hint of methane in Mars air; more experiments planned during road trip

LOS ANGELES (AP) — NASA’s Curiosity rover hasn’t discovered any signs of methane in the atmosphere of Mars, a finding that does not bode well for the possibility that microbes capable of producing the gas could be living below the planet’s surface, scientists said Thursday.

Since landing in Gale Crater last year, the car-size rover has gulped Mars air and scanned it with a tiny laser in search of methane. On Earth, most of the gas is a byproduct of life, spewed when animals digest or plants decay.

Curiosity lacks the tools to directly hunt for simple life, past or present. But scientists had high hopes that the rover would inhale methane after orbiting spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes detected plumes of the gas several years ago.

“If you had microbial life somewhere on Mars that was really healthy and cranking away, you might see some of the signatures of that in the atmosphere,” said mission scientist Paul Mahaffy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

During Curiosity’s first eight months on the red planet, it sniffed the air during the day and at night as the season changed from spring to summer.

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