Joe Palca Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR.
Joe Palca, photographed for NPR, 17 January 2019, in Washington DC.
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Joe Palca

NASA's rover Curiosity crawls up the side of Vera Rubin Ridge on Mars' surface in January 2018. Mount Sharp — a 3-mile-high mountain — can be seen in the distance. MSSS/ NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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MSSS/ NASA/JPL-Caltech

Exploring The Mysterious Origins Of Mars' 3-Mile-High Sand Pile

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As a child on a New York farm, Eben Bayer helped his dad shovel wood chips in the barn. That's where he noticed a stretchy web of fungus that became the basis of his biodegradable packing material. NPR hide caption

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NPR

CHIME Pathfinder prototype radio telescope Keith Vanderlinde/Dunlap Institute hide caption

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Keith Vanderlinde/Dunlap Institute

Astronomers' New Tool May Help Solve Intergalactic Mystery

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The Chinese lunar lander Chang'e 4 is headed to Aitken Basin, a large impact crater near the moon's south pole, pictured here in blue. The distance from the depths of Aitken Basin to the tops of the highest surrounding peaks is nearly twice the height of Mount Everest, according to NASA. NASA/Goddard hide caption

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NASA/Goddard

China's Lunar Lander To Explore Moon's Far Side

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A cubesat, like this briefcase-sized MarCO, was key to relaying telemetry during the recent InSight mission to Mars. It was the first time this kind of mini-spacecraft had flown into deep space. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

What's Next For Tiny Satellites?

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Tianjin, in northern China, is home to Tianjin University, an international research center that recently hired an American to lead its school of pharmaceutical science and technology. He recruits students from all over the world, he says, and the program's classes are taught in English. Prisma Bildagentur/UIG/Getty Images hide caption

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Prisma Bildagentur/UIG/Getty Images

China Expands Research Funding, Luring U.S. Scientists And Students

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New Probe Lands On Mars For Unprecedented Mission

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NASA's Mars Probe Is To Land Soon Near The Planet's Equator

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NASA engineers on the flight team celebrate the InSight spacecraft's successful landing on Mars at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday. Al Seib/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Al Seib/AFP/Getty Images

NASA Probe Lands Safely On Martian Surface

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People who are sensitive to the bitterness of caffeine tend to drink more coffee than others, while people sensitive to bitter flavors like quinine drink less coffee, according to a new study. Dimitri Otis/Getty Images hide caption

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Dimitri Otis/Getty Images

An artist's concept portrays a NASA rover exploring the surface of Mars. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Waiting For Opportunity To Get In Touch

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This October 2008 photo shows Mercury during the Messenger spacecraft's second flyby of the planet. The European Space Agency's BepiColombo will take seven years to reach the innermost planet in our solar system. NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington via AP hide caption

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NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington via AP

A Slow Trip To A Hot Planet: Spacecraft Launches For Mission To Mercury

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The orbits of the new extreme dwarf planet 2015 TG387 and its fellow inner Oort Cloud objects 2012 VP113 and Sedna as compared with the rest of the Solar System. 2015 TG387 was nicknamed ͞"The Goblin" by its discoverers, as its provisional designation contains TG and the object was first seen near Halloween. Illustration by Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard, courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science. hide caption

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Illustration by Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard, courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science.

A Small Planet With Big Implications

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The people-plaguing Asian tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus, typically lays its eggs in stagnant water. James Gathany/AP hide caption

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James Gathany/AP

Building A Better Mosquito Trap — One Scientist Thinks He's Done It

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