February 2016

The planned launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018 will herald a new era of exoplanet spectroscopy. JWST will be the first telescope sensitive enough to potentially characterize terrestrial planets from their transmission spectra.

Research from the University of Washington-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory published Feb. 26 in Astrophysical Journal Letters will help astronomers better identify -- and thus rule out -- "false positives" in the search for life beyond Earth.

In a harsh environment with very little water and intense ultraviolet radiation, most life in the extreme Atacama Desert in Chile exists as microbial colonies underground or inside rocks.

The introduction and concentration of electron donors and acceptors in the subsurface biosphere is controlled by the mixing of subsurface fluids, but the mechanisms and rates at which microbial communities respond to changes induced by fluid mixing and transport are relatively unknown.

We estimate the sensitivity of a lander-based instrument for the passive radio detection of a subsurface ocean beneath the ice shell of Europa, expected to be between 3 km - 30 km thick, using Jupiter's decametric radiation. A passive technique was previously studied for an orbiter.

O2 and O3 have been long considered the most robust individual biosignature gases in a planetary atmosphere, yet multiple mechanisms that may produce them in the absence of life have been described.

They live several kilometers under the surface of the earth, need no light or oxygen and can only be seen in a microscope.

Terrestrial planets at the inner edge of the habitable zone of late-K and M-dwarf stars are expected to be in synchronous rotation, as a consequence of strong tidal interactions with their host stars.

Groundwater circulation beneath a massive tectonic rift zone located along the flanks of some the solar system's largest volcanic plateaus resulted in the formation more than 3 billion years ago of some the deepest basins on Mars, according to a new paper by Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist J. Alexis Palmero Rodriguez.

New research from a University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science-led science team provides new insight into one of the world's most diverse and extensive ecosystems of living microbes.

The pre-transitional disk around the Herbig Ae star HD 169142 shows a complex structure of possible ongoing planet formation in dust thermal emission from the near infrared (IR) to millimeter wavelength range.

Tentative evidence that the properties of evolved stars with planets may be different from what we know for MS hosts has been recently reported.

ESA's Expose facility was retrieved today from outside the International Space Station by cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Sergei Volkov, who were completing a spacewalk to place new experiments on the outpost's hull.

How did life begin? This is one of the most fundamental questions scientists puzzle over. To address it, they have to look not just back to the primordial Earth, but out into space.

The study of cosmology, galaxy formation and exoplanetary systems has now advanced to a stage where a cosmic inventory of terrestrial planets may be attempted.

The F-type star KIC~8462852 has recently been identified as an exceptional target for SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) observations.

Terrestrial planets formed within gaseous protoplanetary disks can accumulate significant hydrogen envelopes.

Chemical abundance studies of the Sun and solar twins have demonstrated that the solar composition of refractory elements is depleted when compared to volatile elements, which could be due to the formation of terrestrial planets.

Aims: Using the unprecedented combination of high resolution and sensitivity offered by ALMA, we aim to investigate whether and how hot corinos, circumstellar disks, and ejected gas are related in young solar-mass protostars.

Globular clusters are ancient stellar populations with no star formation or core-collapse supernovae. Several lines of evidence suggest that globular clusters are rich in planets.

An international team of scientists recently returned from a 47-day research expedition to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean have collected an unprecedented sequence of rock samples from the shallow mantle of the ocean crust that bear signs of life, unique carbon cycling, and ocean crust movement.