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Matt’s Favorites: Mars Could Have Supported Life, What About Exoplanets, Another Galaxy S IV Tease, iPads Falling Behind Androids, And Much More

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Technology that will be utilized in NASA's mission to Mars. (File photo)

Technology that will be utilized in NASA’s mission to Mars. (File photo)

So what’s new and exciting in the wonderful world of high technology? See it all here, culled from a bunch of sources…

* My goodness, you did it again Tuesday, Michigan Technology Scene, I had WAY more story ideas than I could squeeze in to my allotted 20 daily slots in the Technology Report. So some things got held for Thursday and Friday. You’ll see ‘em then.

* Analyzing powdered samples drilled from the interior of a sedimentary rock, the Curiosity Mars rover has detected traces of the chemicals and compounds necessary for a habitable environment in the red planet’s distant past, scientists reported Tuesday. Whether life ever managed to evolve on Mars remains an open question, but the environment characterized by Curiosity’s instruments, an area where water once flowed and pooled, could have supported microbial life as it is known on Earth.

* But drat, it turns out samples from a meteor that exploded over Africa last year may not contain fossilized life, after all.

* Also regarding Mars, Mars One has taken a bold step toward its goal of establishing a human settlement on Mars in 2023 by contracting with its first aerospace supplier, Paragon Space Development Corp.

* And just in case there was never life on Mars, let’s cast the net wider: Even as astronomers work toward the hotly anticipated milestone discovery of an Earth-like twin orbiting another star, researchers are already asking what it will take to detect the existence of extraterrestrial life on such a planet.

* Samsung just can’t resist teasing us with the Galaxy S IV. The company has posted an image of a silhouetted device on its official Twitter account with a caption that reads, “The countdown for #TheNextBigThing has begun.”

* Shipments of Apple Inc’s iPads will fall behind the growing variety of tablets running Google Inc’s Android platform for the first time this year as smaller-sized devices catch on with more consumers, research firm International Data Corp said on Tuesday.

* Cyber attacks and cyber espionage have supplanted terrorism as the top threats to the United States in an annual “worldwide threat” assessment released on Tuesday by the U.S. intelligence community.

* Speaking of which, China says it is willing to cooperate with the United States in cybersecurity after the U.S. called on it to take “serious steps” to stop cyberattacks. (War, cyber-or otherwise, is nothing if not bad for business, after all, and the Chinese have become really good at business.)

* And a denial of service attack takes down the Web sites of JP Morgan Chase.

* At the Vatican, black smoke means there has been no decision on a new pontiff. But if the “fumata bianca,” or white smoke, flows out of the chimney, then the world knows there is a new Bishop of Rome. But just how does the smoke get its color?

* The military has stopped production of a new medal for remote warfare troops — drone operators and cyber warfighters — as it considers complaints from veterans and lawmakers over the award, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

* Google has settled a long-running Street View privacy case with 37 states and the District of Columbia to stop unauthorized data collection and train its employees on privacy issues. Google will also pay a $7 million fine to the states involved. The company will also launch a nationwide consumer education campaign, according to the settlement.

* The FCC and Department of Justice approve the merger of Metro PCS and T-Mobile.

* Microsoft faced a few key challenges in developing its Surface tablet, according to team leader Panos Panay. In an interview with the Verge, Panay offered some tidbits detailing the tricky evolution of Surface.

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