January 2014

The following statement has been issued by NASA: "This is an ongoing legal matter and we are limited in what we can discuss about the filing."

Earth-scale planets in the classical habitable zone (HZ) are more likely to be habitable if they possess active geophysics.

How did Multicellularity Evolve?

The evolutionary path from unicellular life to multicellularity is varied, but all lead to complex organisms

While astronauts might dream of discovering unknown life one day in their future career, ESA's Planetary Protection Officer oversees activities that achieve it on a regular basis.

After a three-year overhaul and major upgrade, the United States' deepest-diving research submersible, Alvin, has been cleared to return to work exploring the ocean's depths.

Poison-breathing Bacteria

Buried deep in the mud along the banks of a remote salt lake near Yosemite National Park are colonies of bacteria with an unusual property: they breathe a toxic metal to survive.

A New Dimension to Cyanobacteria

Marine cyanobacteria are the tiny ocean plants that form the base of the ocean's food chain. Other organisms feed on them and are nourished by the oxygen they provide.

Lichen on Mars

Humans cannot hope to survive life on Mars without plenty of protection from the surface radiation, freezing night temperatures and dust storms on the red planet.

The status of laboratory spectroscopic data for exoplanet characterisation missions such as EChO is reviewed. For many molecules (eg H2O, CO, CO2, H3+, O2, O3) the data are already available.

Water Vapor Discovered At Ceres

ESA's Herschel space observatory has discovered water vapour around Ceres, the first unambiguous detection of water vapour around an object in the asteroid belt.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are some of the major dust components in the interstellar medium (ISM).

Astronomers have used ESO's HARPS planet hunter in Chile, along with other telescopes around the world, to discover three planets orbiting stars in the cluster Messier 67.

Last year schoolchildren were invited to dig up some earth in search of creepy-crawlies and underground life. Astronauts taking part in ESA's underground training course CAVES joined the worldwide experiment from deep under Sardinia, Italy, and the results from their survey have revealed new habitats and rare species.

Volatiles in Protoplanetary Disks

Volatiles are compounds with low sublimation temperatures, and they make up most of the condensible mass in typical planet-forming environments.

We make a preliminary assessment on the habitability of potential rocky exoplanets around Alpha Centauri B.

Superhabitable Worlds

To be habitable, a world (planet or moon) does not need to be located in the stellar habitable zone (HZ), and worlds in the HZ are not necessarily habitable.

Astrobiologists supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute have found that a peculiar feature in the atmosphere of Earth could also be present on billions of extrasolar planets.

Microscopic fungi that live in plants' roots play a major role in the storage and release of carbon from the soil into the atmosphere.

The source HD172555 is a young A7V star surrounded by a debris disk with a gaseous component.

It is now understood that the accretion of terrestrial planets naturally involves giant collisions, the moon-forming impact being a well known example.

Spitzer Probes Weather on Brown Dwarfs

Swirling, stormy clouds may be ever-present on cool celestial orbs called brown dwarfs. New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that most brown dwarfs are roiling with one or more planet-size storms akin to Jupiter's "Great Red Spot."

A general formulation to compute habitable zones for binary stars is presented.

Massive terrestrial planets, called "super-Earths," are known to be common in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

During its four-year mission, NASA's Kepler space telescope discovered thousands of "planetary candidates" in our Milky Way galaxy -- the vast majority of which are almost certainly actual planets.

Large terrestrial planets are expected to have muted topography and deep oceans, implying that most super-Earths should be entirely covered in water, so-called waterworlds.

We have developed a comprehensive methodology and an interactive website for calculating the habitable zone (HZ) of multiple star systems.

One of the biggest questions in science is how life arose from the chemical soup that existed on early Earth.

Shapes and Colors That Transcend Scale

@ESA-CAVES just tweeted another pair of Earth and space images. One is Supernova remnant W49B. The other is an unidentified benthic colonial organism. The similarities in color and shape are undeniable.

We have found that Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our Sun, will pass close to a pair of faint background stars in the next few years.

The hydrostatic equilibrium of multi-layer bodies lacks a satisfactory theoretical treatment despite its wide range of applicability.

Solar twins and analogs are fundamental in the characterization of the Sun's place in the context of stellar measurements, as they are in understanding how typical the solar properties are in its neighborhood.