June 2016

Is life most likely to emerge at the present cosmic time near a star like the Sun? We consider the habitability of the Universe throughout cosmic history, and conservatively restrict our attention to the context of "life as we know it" and the standard cosmological model, LCDM.

The field of astrobiology has made tremendous progress in modelling galactic-scale habitable zones which offer a stable environment for life to form and evolve in complexity.

Water is necessary for life as we know it, but too much water is bad for habitability.

The ocean of Jupiter's moon Europa could have the necessary balance of chemical energy for life, even if the moon lacks volcanic hydrothermal activity, finds a new study.

Astronomers have long known that organic molecules form in diffuse gas clouds floating between stars.

Chemicals found in Martian rocks by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover suggest the Red Planet once had more oxygen in its atmosphere than it does now.

Life on Earth relies on chiral molecules, that is, species not superimposable on their mirror images. This manifests itself in the selection of a single molecular handedness, or homochirality, across the biosphere.

The organic molecule methyl alcohol (methanol) has been found by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the TW Hydrae protoplanetary disc.

The EXtreme PREcision Spectrograph (EXPRES) is an optical fiber fed echelle instrument being designed and built at the Yale Exoplanet Laboratory to be installed on the 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope operated by Lowell Observatory.

Chiral molecules -- compounds that come in otherwise identical mirror image variations, like a pair of human hands -- are crucial to life as we know it.

Water is a hot topic in the study of exoplanets, including "hot Jupiters," whose masses are similar to that of Jupiter, but which are much closer to their parent star than Jupiter is to the sun.

The Astrobiology Program of NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is joining with the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) and the Directorate of Geosciences (GEO) of the National Science Foundation to sponsor an "Ideas Lab" activity on the Origins of Life.

Our Earth consists of silicate rocks and an iron core with a thin veneer of water and life. But the first potentially habitable worlds to form might have been very different.

On May 11, a sealed capsule containing fungi and bacteria fell from the sky and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Microbiologist Kasthuri Venkateswaran could hardly wait to see what was inside it.

New research has revealed that fewer than predicted planets may be capable of harbouring life because their atmospheres keep them too hot.