Astrochemistry

Detection of the Aromatic Molecule Benzonitrile (c-C6H5CN) in the Interstellar Medium

Detection of the Aromatic Molecule Benzonitrile (c-C6H5CN) in the Interstellar Medium

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic nitrogen heterocycles are thought to be widespread throughout the Universe, because these classes of molecules are probably responsible for the unidentified infrared bands, a set of emission features seen in numerous Galactic and extragalactic sources.

Astrogeology

Finding Mountains With Molehills: The Detectability of Exotopography

Finding Mountains With Molehills: The Detectability of Exotopography

Mountain ranges, volcanoes, trenches, and craters are common on rocky bodies throughout the Solar System, and we might we expect the same for rocky exoplanets.

Alpha Centauri

Long-Term Stability of Tightly Packed Multi-Planet Systems in Prograde, Coplanar, Circumstellar Orbits within the α Centauri AB System

Long-Term Stability of Tightly Packed Multi-Planet Systems in Prograde, Coplanar, Circumstellar Orbits within the α Centauri AB System

We perform long-term simulations, up to ten billion years, of closely-spaced configurations of 2 -- 6 planets, each as massive as the Earth, traveling on nested orbits about either stellar component in alpha Centauri AB.

Astrogeology

The Delivery of Water During Terrestrial Planet Formation

The Delivery of Water During Terrestrial Planet Formation

The planetary building blocks that formed in the terrestrial planet region were likely very dry, yet water is comparatively abundant on Earth. We review the various mechanisms proposed for the origin of water on the terrestrial planets.

Mars

New Technique For Finding Life on Mars

New Technique For Finding Life on Mars

Researchers demonstrate for the first time the potential of existing technology to directly detect and characterize life on Mars and other planets

Space Weather

The Propitious Role of Solar Energetic Particles in the Origin of Life

The Propitious Role of Solar Energetic Particles in the Origin of Life

We carry out 3-D numerical simulations to assess the penetration and bombardment effects of Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs), i.e. high-energy particle bursts during large flares and superflares, on ancient and current Mars.

Titan

Cassini Finds Titan Has A Sea Level Like Earth Does

Cassini Finds Titan Has A Sea Level Like Earth Does

Saturn's moon Titan may be nearly a billion miles away from Earth, but a recently published paper based on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveals a new way this distant world and our own are eerily similar.

Biochemistry

Prebiotic Synthesis of RNA Nucleotides

Prebiotic Synthesis of RNA Nucleotides

RNA was probably the first informational molecule. Now chemists from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have demonstrated that alternation of wet and dry conditions could have sufficed to drive the prebiotic synthesis of the RNA nucleosides found in all domains of life.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

How Special Is the Solar System?

How Special Is the Solar System?

Given the fact that Earth is so far the only place in the Milky Way galaxy known to harbor life, the question arises of whether the solar system is in any way special. To address this question, I compare the solar system to the many recently discovered exoplanetary systems.

Biosignatures & Paleobiology

Atmospheric Beacons of Life from Exoplanets Around G and K Stars

Atmospheric Beacons of Life from Exoplanets Around G and K Stars

The current explosion in detection and characterization of thousands of extrasolar planets from the Kepler mission, the Hubble Space Telescope, and large ground-based telescopes opens a new era in searches for Earth-analog exoplanets with conditions suitable for sustaining life.

SETI

SETI is Part of Astrobiology

SETI is Part of Astrobiology

"Traditional SETI is not part of astrobiology" declares the NASA Astrobiology Strategy 2015 document. This is incorrect.

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