Editor’s pick: The top space stories of 2023

It’s hard to separate the signal from the noise. That’s true for astronomers trying to detect chemical signs of life on distant planets — and it’s just as true for science enthusiasts on Earth trying to make sense of the endless stream of discoveries being beamed into their newsfeeds.

Asteroid Bennu stumps scientists with its odd makeup

A view of the outside of the OSIRIS-REx sample collector. Sample material from asteroid Bennu can be seen on the middle right. (Image credit: NASA/Erika Blumenfeld & Joseph Aebersold)

2023 was a noisy year for space — especially when it came to the search for extraterrestrial life. High-profile congressional hearings in the U.S. and Mexico had many people convinced that, not only have aliens crash-landed spaceships on Earth, but they also left behind some three-fingered mummies for our perusal. Despite a complete lack of scientific evidence, these claims dominated news cycles for weeks, overshadowing some truly remarkable extraterrestrial studies that could guide decades of future space exploration.

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