February 2014

The Sun was once thought to provide energy for all life on Earth - meaning that life could not survive without it. In the 20th century, as astrobiologists began to explore the Earth's most remote and harsh environments, scientists began to question that assumption.

Effective April 7, 2014, Michael Meyer will serve on a one-year detail assignment as the interim director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Simply making nanoparticles spin coaxes them to arrange themselves into what University of Michigan researchers call 'living rotating crystals' that could serve as a nanopump. They may also, incidentally, shed light on the origin of life itself.

All living organisms on Earth could soon have a new name if a Virginia Tech professor has his way. Boris Vinatzer has developed a system that classifies and names organisms based on their genome sequence.

With the help of a tiny fragment of zircon extracted from a remote rock outcrop in Australia, the picture of how our planet became habitable to life about 4.4 billion years ago is coming into sharper focus.

Although liquid water covers a majority of Earth's surface, scientists are still searching for planets outside of our solar system that contain water.

SETI Institute Founding CEO Tom Pierson has left our planet. Learn more about his life here. Ad Astra, Tom.

Photosynthetic life requires sufficient photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) to metabolise. On Earth, plant behaviour, physiology and metabolism are sculpted around the night-day cycle by an endogenous biological circadian clock.

Astrobiologists supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute have shown that mineral species on the early Earth may have been different than the ones found on our planet today.

A new study supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute suggests that the possibility of life being transferred from the inner solar system to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, although very rare, cannot be ruled out.

The NASA Ames Research Center and the National Space Society (NSS) are co-sponsoring the NASA Space Settlement Contest in which students develop space settlement designs and related materials.

The activities of our global civilization are now intertwined with the evolution of the Earth system. Human civilization will face many challenges as it adapts to a rapidly changing world, and the result of many critical decisions today will have a lasting impact on generations to come.

The atmospheric composition of transiting exoplanets can be characterized during transit by spectroscopy.

In this paper, we address the migration of small mass planets in 3D radiative disks. Indeed, migration of small planets is known to be too fast inwards in locally isothermal conditions.

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

With improvements in exoplanet detection techniques, the number of multiple planet systems discovered is increasing, while the detection of potentially habitable Earth-mass planets remains complicated and thus requires new search strategies.

As we are rapidly approaching the end of the end of this stage of the Astrobiology Strategy planning, we would like to thank everyone that has participated as a presenter or author, commented on a white paper or at a webinar, or even just listened in to one of the presentations.

Radiant skin is considered a sign of good health in humans, but plants also glow when they are well. A potential new ESA satellite could use this fluorescence to track the health and productivity of vegetation worldwide.

A recent study indicates that water ice and simple molecules of carbon and nitrogen might form the seed material for more complex substances, some of which might ultimately be involved in the origin of life.

The class of meteorites called carbonaceous chondrites are examples of material from the solar system which have been relatively unchanged from the time of their initial formation.

M type stars are good targets in the search for habitable extrasolar planets. Because of their low effective temperatures, the habitable zone of M stars is very close to the star itself.

While the origin of life remains mysterious, scientists are finding more and more evidence that material created in space and delivered to Earth by comet and meteor impacts could have given a boost to the start of life.

Results from recent space missions, in particular Spitzer and Herschel, have lead to significant progress in our understanding of the formation and transport of water from clouds to disks, planetesimals, and planets.

Fruit flies bred in space are offering scientists a clue as to how astronauts' immune systems may be damaged during prolonged space travel.