Scientists have discovered water that has been trapped in rock for more than a billion years. The water might contain microbes that evolved independently from the surface world, and it's a finding that gives new hope to the search for life on other planets.
The water samples came from holes drilled by gold miners near the small town of Timmins, Ontario, about 350 miles north of Toronto. Deep in the Canadian bedrock, miners drill holes and collect samples. Sometimes they hit pay dirt; sometimes they hit water, which seeps out from tiny crevices in the rock.
Astronomers said Wednesday that a reaction wheel that keeps the orbiting telescope pointed at tiny, distant patches of sky to look for Earth-like planets has failed. If they can't fix it, Kepler will be relegated to a less prestigious mission, directing its gaze much closer to home in a search for so-called "near-Earth objects," i.e., meteors and asteroids.