Archives

April 2014


The detection of strong thermochemical disequilibrium in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet is thought to be a potential biosignature.

Due to unexpected personal conflicts, Dr. Michael Meyer has declined the position of NAI's Interim Director. Dr. Meyer explains, "Unfortunately, the requirements levied to resolve a conflict-of-interest were unacceptable."

The chemical reactions behind the formation of common metabolites in modern organisms could have formed spontaneously in the earth's early oceans, questioning the events thought to have led to the origin of life.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have published details about how the first organisms on Earth could have become metabolically active.

Glycine (NH2CH2COOH) is the simplest amino acid relevant for life. Its detection in the interstellar medium is key to understand the formation mechanisms of pre-biotic molecules and their subsequent delivery onto planetary systems.

The goal of finding and characterizing nearby Earth-like planets is driving many NASA high-contrast flagship mission concepts, the latest of which is known as the Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST).

Planetary rotation rate is a key parameter in determining atmospheric circulation and hence the spatial pattern of clouds. Since clouds can exert a dominant control on planetary radiation balance, rotation rate could be critical for determining mean planetary climate.

The ongoing discoveries of extrasolar planets are unveiling a wide range of terrestrial mass (size) planets around their host stars.

We investigate the formation of multiple-planet systems in the presence of a hot Jupiter using extended N-body simulations that are performed simultaneously with semi-analytic calculations.

I am currently in the high arctic sitting (Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut, Canada) in a tent next to the Stolz Diapir spring site at Whitsunday Bay.

Ancient Earth might have had an extraterrestrial supply of vitamin B3 delivered by carbon-rich meteorites, according to a new analysis by NASA-funded researchers. The result supports a theory that the origin of life may have been assisted by a supply of key molecules created in space and brought to Earth by comet and meteor impacts.

Understanding the concept of habitability is related to an evolutionary knowledge of the particular planet-in-question. Additional indications so-called "systemic aspects" of the planetary system as a whole governs a particular planet's claim on habitability.

The Kepler-186 system consists of five planets orbiting an early-M dwarf. The planets have physical radii of 1.0-1.50 R⊕ and orbital periods of 4 to 130 days.

San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane and an international team of researchers have announced the discovery of a new rocky planet that could potentially have liquid water on its surface.

From analytical studies of tidal heating, eclipses and planetary illumination, it is clear that the exomoon habitable zone (EHZ) - the set of moon and host planet orbits that permit liquid water on an Earthlike moon's surface - is a manifold of higher dimension than the planetary HZ.

Geologists who analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars unlocked secrets of the Martian atmosphere hidden in the chemical signatures of these ancient rocks.

Life took root more than four billion years ago on our nascent Earth, a wetter and harsher place than now, bathed in sizzling ultraviolet rays. What started out as simple cells ultimately transformed into slime molds, frogs, elephants, humans and the rest of our planet's living kingdoms. How did it all begin?

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, sometimes it helps.

A new study from Western University explores the possibility that Earth's earliest life forms may have been cultivated by a meteorite impact event.

Jeff Benca is an admitted ueber-geek when it comes to prehistoric plants, so it was no surprise that, when he submitted a paper describing a new species of long-extinct lycopod for publication, he ditched the standard line drawing and insisted on a detailed and beautifully rendered color reconstruction of the plant. This piece earned the cover of March's centennial issue of the American Journal of Botany.

The Cambrian Period is a time when most phyla of marine invertebrates first appeared in the fossil record. Also dubbed the "Cambrian explosion," fossilized records from this time provide glimpses into evolutionary biology when the world's ecosystems rapidly changed and diversi

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided evidence that the Universe is slowing down in its infinite rush into whatever lies beyond.

Astrobiologists supported by the Exobiology element of NASA's Astrobiology Program have provided new information about the survival of biosignatures on Mars. Their study also provides new insight into data from a NASA mission that was sent to the red planet almost 40 years ago.

The discovery and characterization of exoplanets is one of the most exciting and fast-changing areas in modern astronomical research.

A study published this week in PLOS ONE authored by Dr. Henry Sun and his postdoctoral student Dr. Gaosen Zhang of Nevada based research institute DRI provides new evidence that Earth bacteria can do something that is quite unusual.

NAI-funded astrobiologists at the University of Washington have developed a new method of gauging the atmospheric pressure of exoplanets, or worlds beyond the solar system, by looking for a certain type of molecule.

This week, twenty European scientists will gather at Boulby mine in the UK to begin testing technologies for the exploration of Mars and hunting for deep subsurface life that will aid scientists in their search for extraterrestrial life.

It is well-known that stars with giant planets are on average more metal-rich than stars without giant planets, whereas stars with detected low-mass planets do not need to be metal-rich.

Astrobiologists have provided new information about how comets and asteroids could have delivered prebiotic chemical compounds to the early Earth.

The nitrogen to carbon (N/C) and nitrogen to oxygen (N/O) ratios are the most sensitive quantities to mixing in stellar interiors of intermediate and massive stars.

In this work, we studied the stability of the glycine molecule in the crystalline zwitterion form, known as {alpha}-glycine (+ NH3 CH2 COO− ) under action of heavy cosmic ray analogs.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft and Deep Space Network have uncovered evidence Saturn's moon Enceladus harbors a large underground ocean of liquid water, furthering scientific interest in the moon as a potential home to extraterrestrial microbes.

We present new astrometry for the young (12-21 Myr) exoplanet beta Pictoris b taken with the Gemini/NICI, Magellan/MagAO+Clio2, and Magellan/MagAO+VisAO instruments between 2009 and 2012.

Scientists recently discovered the source of naturally occurring aerosol particles in Earth's atmosphere that play an important role in cloud formation.

The habitable zone (HZ) is defined as the region around a star where a planet can support liquid water on its surface, which, together with an oxygen atmosphere, is presumed to be necessary (and sufficient) to develop and sustain life on the planet.

Deep-sea hydrothermal plumes--waters nearly two miles down in the ocean--are home to processes that effect life across the planet. However, high pressure and water temperatures that exceed 300 degrees Celsius have made research on the plumes very difficult.

The formation of clouds affects brown dwarf and planetary atmospheres of nearly all effective temperatures.

Organisms have increased in complexity through a series of major evolutionary transitions, in which formerly autonomous entities become parts of a novel higher-level entity.

Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) may constitute a large fraction of the matter in the Universe.