Today on New Scientist: 8 January 2013

Mock Mars mission reveals salty surprise

Unexpected findings from the "crew members" of the Mars 500 experiment may overturn a common assumption about how our body stores and excretes dietary salt

'Exocomets' abound in alien solar systems

Planets around billions of stars may be getting pummelled by the icy dirt-balls in the same way that the young Earth once was

Australia faces another week of 'catastrophic' heat

A record-smashing "dome of heat" is causing the worst fire threat on record and forcing Australian meteorologists to add two colours to their heat maps

Black holes star in first images of high-energy cosmos

NASA's recently launched NuSTAR space telescope peers through the dust that blinds other craft to spot a supernova and two black holes

Another day at the office for NASA's robot astronaut

This fine figure of a robot is Robonaut 2 hard at work aboard the International Space Station last week

Into thin air: Storage salvation for green energy

If renewable energy is to succeed, we need to find a better way to store it. Liquid air batteries could be the answer, says Jim Giles

Tony Fadell: From iPhones to sexing up thermostats

After quitting Apple, the tech guru behind the iPod wanted to revolutionise our homes - starting with the humble thermostat

World's oldest pills treated sore eyes

Tablets found in an ancient shipwreck contain zinc carbonates - just like many of today's eye medications

Only the toughest would survive on Tatooine worlds

A new look at twin-star systems hints that life might thrive in more places than we thought, as long as it can adapt to wild climates

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