October 2015

Theoretical studies have revealed that dust grains are usually moving fast through the turbulent interstellar gas, which could have significant effects upon molecular cloud chemistry by modifying grain accretion.

Many features of the outer solar system are replicated in numerical simulations if the giant planets undergo an orbital instability that ejects one or more ice giants.

Scientists have catalogued nearly 2,000 exoplanets around stars near and far. While most of these are giant and inhospitable, improved techniques and spacecraft have uncovered increasingly smaller worlds.

A team of NASA-funded scientists has solved an enduring mystery from the Apollo missions to the moon the origin of organic matter found in lunar samples returned to Earth.

We present a comprehensive analysis of spatially resolved moderate spectral resolution near infrared spectra obtained with the adaptive optics system at the Keck Observatory.

Comet Lovejoy lived up to its name by releasing large amounts of alcohol as well as a type of sugar into space, according to new observations by an international team.

This paper discusses compelling science cases for a future long-baseline interferometer operating at millimeter and centimeter wavelengths, like the proposed Next Generation Vary Large Array (ngVLA).

Locating planets in circumstellar Habitable Zones is a priority for many exoplanet surveys. Space-based and ground-based surveys alike require robust toolsets to aid in target selection and mission planning.

UCLA geochemists have found evidence that life likely existed on Earth at least 4.1 billion years ago -- 300 million years earlier than previous research suggested.

Inspired by previous work on chemistry's 'water problem' and 'asphalt problem,' a team of researchers has provided new insight into the conditions in which nucleosides combine with phosphate to form nucleoside phosphates, a key set of molecules found in RNA.

The scientific interest in directly image and identifying Earth-like planets within the Habitable Zone (HZ) around nearby stars is driving the design of specialized direct imaging mission such as ACESAT, EXO-C, EXO-S and AFTA-C.

Building the terrestrial planets has been a challenge for planet formation models. In particular, classical theories have been unable to reproduce the small mass of Mars and instead predict that a planet near 1.5 AU should roughly be the same mass as the Earth.

Astrophysical ionizing radiation events such as supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and solar proton events have been recognized as a potential threat to life on Earth.

In this thesis, I explore two topics in exoplanet science. The first is the prevalence of Earth-size planets in the Milky Way Galaxy.

A radiative-convective climate model is used to calculate stratospheric temperatures and water vapor concentrations for ozone-free atmospheres warmer than that of modern Earth.

Focusing on planets orbiting Red Dwarf (RD) stars, the most abundant stellar type, we show that including RDs as potential host stars could increase the probability of finding biotic planets by a factor of up to a thousand, and reduce the estimate of the distance to our nearest biotic neighbor by up to 10.

In a new paper published October 9, 2015, in the journal Science, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team presents recent results of its quest to not just follow the water but to understand where it came from, and how long it lasted on the surface of Mars so long ago.

A new study shows that iron-bearing rocks that formed at the ocean floor 3.2 billion years ago carry unmistakable evidence of oxygen.

Over the past two years 800 members of the astrobiology community have contributed, through in person meetings, white papers, a series of webinars and reviews, to define a new strategy for the next decade of astrobiology research. Mary Voytek, the Senior Scientist for Astrobiology, and Michael New, the Astrobiology Discipline Scientist, described the goal of the endeavor to create an "inspirational and aspirational" document. The strategy will replace the 2008 Astrobiology Roadmap.

Powerful telescopes are coming soon. Where exactly shall we point them?

Five times in Earth's history mass extinction events have wiped out up to 90 percent of global life.

Exoplanet habitability is traditionally assessed by comparing a planet's semi-major axis to the location of its host star's "habitable zone," the shell around a star for which Earth-like planets can possess liquid surface water.