Archives

July 2017


Proxima b, an Earth-size planet right outside our solar system in the habitable zone of its star, may not be able to keep a grip on its atmosphere, leaving the surface exposed to harmful stellar radiation and reducing its potential for habitability.

Was this the earliest TV mention of "astrobiology"? A scene from the original Star Trek episode "Return To Tomorrow" which first aired on 9 February 1968:

KIRK: "Who are you?"
MULHALL: "Doctor Ann Mulhall, Astrobiology"

Every day, enough sunlight hits the Earth to power the planet many times over -- if only we could more efficiently capture all the energy.

NASA scientists have definitively detected the chemical acrylonitrile in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan, a place that has long intrigued scientists investigating the chemical precursors of life.

Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is one of our solar system's most intriguing and Earth-like bodies. It is nearly as large as Mars and has a hazy atmosphere made up mostly of nitrogen with a smattering of organic, carbon-based molecules, including methane (CH4) and ethane (C2H6).

The international Cassini-Huygens mission has made a surprising detection of a molecule that is instrumental in the production of complex organics within the hazy atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.

The Breakthrough Listen Initiative is undertaking a comprehensive search for radio and optical signatures from extraterrestrial civilizations.

A new Statistical-likelihood Exo-Planetary Habitability Index (SEPHI) is presented. It has been developed to cover the current and future features required for a classification scheme disentangling whether any discovered exoplanet is potentially habitable compared with life on Earth.

A laboratory experiment is suggested in which conditions similar to those in the plume ejecta from Enceladus and, perhaps, Europa are established.

In order to understand the exoplanet, you need to understand its parent star. Astrophysical parameters of extrasolar planets are directly and indirectly dependent on the properties of their respective host stars.

The recent discovery of habitable exoplanets around Proxima Centauri and TRAPPIST-1 has attracted much attention due to their potential for hosting life.

Discoveries of extrasolar planets in the habitable zone (HZ) of their parent star lead to questions about the habitability of massive moons orbiting planets in the HZ. Around low-mass stars, the HZ is much closer to the star than for Sun-like stars.

TRAPPIST-1 planets are invaluable for the study of comparative planetary science outside our Solar System and possibly habitability.

Until now, SETI experiments (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), whether listening for a radio transmitter or searching for a high-powered laser, have assumed that ET is on-the-air all the time, so that wherever the instrument is pointed, the signal will be there. Laser SETI is the first experiment to circumvent this assumption.

Astronomers have used an Australian radio telescope to observe molecular signatures from stars, gas and dust in our galaxy, which could lead to the detection of complex molecules that are precursors to life.

As evident from the nearby examples of Proxima Centauri and TRAPPIST-1, Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of low-mass stars are common. Here, we focus on such planetary systems and argue that their (oceanic) tides could be more prominent due to stronger tidal forces.

Despite the fact that the observed gradient in water content among the Galilean satellites is globally consistent with a formation in a circum-Jovian disk on both sides of the snowline, the mechanisms that led to a low water mass fraction in Europa (∼8%) are not yet understood.

A paradigm-shifting hypothesis laid out by UC Santa Cruz astrobiologists David Deamer and Bruce Damer could reshape our idea about the origin of life

Much attention has been given in the literature to the effects of astrophysical events on human and land-based life. However, little has been discussed on the resilience of life itself.

Using a combination of fossils and chemical markers, scientists have tracked how a period of globally low ocean-oxygen turned an Early Jurassic marine ecosystem into a stressed community inhabited by only a few species.

One of the primary open questions of astrobiology is whether there is extant or extinct life elsewhere the Solar System.

Large, robust, lens-shaped microfossils from the approximately 3.4 billion-year-old Kromberg Formation of the Kaapvaal Craton in eastern South Africa are not only among the oldest elaborate microorganisms known.

The National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory and the Planetary Habitability Laboratory of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo joined the Red Dots project in the search for new planets around our nearest stars.

Two separate teams of scientists have identified major challenges for the development of life in what has recently become one of the most famous exoplanet systems, TRAPPIST-1.

Two fundamental problems for extraterrestrial intelligences (ETIs) attempting to establish interstellar communication are timing and energy consumption.

One of the most fundamental questions in exoplanetology is to determine whether a given planet is habitable.

The discovery of exoplanets has both focused and expanded the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Radio Exploration of Planetary Habitability was the fifth in the series of American Astronomical Society's Topical Conference Series.

Solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) produce adverse space weather effects at Earth.

We report the first detection and high angular resolution (1.8" × 1.1") imaging of acetic acid (CH3COOH) and gGg′--ethylene glycol (gGg′(CH2OH)2) towards the Orion Kleinmann--Low nebula.

There is a long-standing debate regarding the origin of the terrestrial planets' water as well as the hydrated C-type asteroids. Here we show that the inner Solar System's water is a simple byproduct of the giant planets' formation.

We present experimental constraints on the insertion of oxygen atoms into methane to form methanol in astrophysical ice analogs.

We report the detection of the carbon-chain radical HC5O for the first time in the interstellar medium toward the dark cloud TMC-1 using the 100 m Green Bank Telescope.

The astronomical observation of isopropyl cyanide further stresses the link between the chemical composition of the ISM and molecular composition of the meteorites in which there is a dominance of branched chain amino acids as compared to the straight.

Earth's tectonic processes regulate the formation of continental crust, control its unique deep water and carbon cycles, and are vital to its surface habitability.

New models of massive stellar eruptions hint at an extra layer of complexity when considering whether an exoplanet may be habitable or not.