October 2017

Researchers with NASA's Cassini mission found evidence of a toxic hybrid ice in a wispy cloud high above the south pole of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

Since NASA's Dawn spacecraft detected localized organic-rich material on Ceres, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has been digging into the data to explore different scenarios for its origin.

If life exists on Mars, it will have sought refuge underground. Trying to uncover one of the best-kept secrets in the Solar System, scientists are working a kilometre beneath the ground, with ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer joining them this week.

For scientists trying to understand what ancient Mars might have been like, the red planet sends some mixed signals. Water-carved valleys and lakebeds leave little doubt that water once flowed on the surface.

This paper provides a brief overview of the journey of molecules through the Cosmos, from local diffuse interstellar clouds and PDRs to distant galaxies, and from cold dark clouds to hot star-forming cores, protoplanetary disks, planetesimals and exoplanets.

To understand the origin of the dunes on Titan, it is important to investigate the material properties of Titan's organic sand particles on Titan.

Vinyl cyanide (C2H3CN) is theorized to form in Titan's atmosphere via high-altitude photochemistry and is of interest regarding the astrobiology of cold planetary surfaces due to its predicted ability to form cell membrane-like structures (azotosomes) in liquid methane.

Astrophysical observations reveal a large diversity of radii and masses of exoplanets. It is important to characterize the interiors of exoplanets to understand planetary diversity and further determine how unique, or not, Earth is.

This vegetation index, created using images taken by OSIRIS-REx's MapCam camera on Sept. 22, 2017, shows areas on Earth with abundant plant life.

Aims. We study the formation and water delivery of planets in the habitable zone (HZ) around solar-type stars. In particular, we study different dynamical environments that are defined by the most massive body in the system.

We investigate the atmospheric dynamics of terrestrial planets in synchronous rotation near the inner edge of the habitable zone of low-mass stars using the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM).

We review the field of exoplanetary biosignatures with a main focus upon atmospheric gas-phase species. Due to the paucity of data in Earth-like planetary atmospheres a common approach is to extrapolate knowledge from the Solar System and Early Earth to Earth-like exoplanets.

One of the primary questions when characterizing Earth-sized and super-Earth-sized exoplanets is whether they have a substantial atmosphere like Earth and Venus or a bare-rock surface like Mercury.

We derive fitting formulae for the quick determination of the existence of S-type and P-type habitable zones in binary systems.

We combine inferred galaxy properties from a semi-analytic galaxy evolution model incorporating dark matter halo merger trees with new estimates of supernova and gamma ray burst rates as a function of metallicity from stellar population synthesis models incorporating binary interactions.

The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth

Eccentricity is an important orbital parameter. Understanding its effect on planetary climate and habitability is critical for us to search for a habitable world beyond our solar system.

The oxidation of rocky planet surfaces and atmospheres, which arises from the twin forces of stellar nucleosynthesis and gravitational differentiation, is a universal process of key importance to habitability and exoplanet biosignature detection.

Prior to the origin of simple cellular life, the building blocks of RNA (nucleotides) had to form and polymerize in favourable environments on the early Earth.

How life began on Earth, roughly 4 billion years ago, is one of the great scientific questions. New results from scientists at McMaster University and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy suggest a key role for meteorites landing in warm little ponds, delivering essential organic molecules that kick-started the emergence of life in the shape of self-replicating RNA molecules.

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have detected the faint molecular fingerprint of methyl chloride - a chemical commonly produced by industrial and biological processes here on Earth - around an infant star system known as IRAS 16293-2422.

We report the detection of widespread CH2OHCHO and HOCH2CH2OH emission in Galactic center giant molecular cloud Sagittarius B2 using the Shanghai Tianma 65m Radio Telescope.

Ice analogs mimicking interstellar ice behave like liquids at temperatures between -210°C and -120°C according to Hokkaido University researchers. This liquid-like ice may enhance the formation of organic compounds including prebiotic molecules and the accretion of dust to form planets.

Methyl isocyanate (CH3NCO) is one of the important complex organic molecules detected on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by Rosetta's Philae lander.