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November 2018


One of the most fundamental unexplained questions in modern science is how life began. Scientists generally believe that simple molecules present in early planetary environments were converted to more complex ones that could have helped jumpstart life by the input of energy from the environment.

In recent years, scientists have engineered bacteria with expanded genetic codes that produce proteins made from a wider range of molecular building blocks, opening up a promising front in protein engineering.

Ammonia, if present in the ice shells of icy satellites, could lower the temperature for the onset of melting to 176 K and create a large temperature range where partial melt is thermally stable.

"The hole melter was returned, but unfortunately it still does not work properly and we are unable to use it to make a dive hole or melt out the light sensors we left in the water column last year."

We apply previously introduced measures of chemical disequilibrium to Cassini mass spectroscopy data on the atmosphere of Titan.

The bulk composition of the Earth is dramatically carbon poor compared to that of the interstellar medium, and this phenomenon extends to the asteroid belt.

Microbes could have performed oxygen-producing photosynthesis at least one billion years earlier in the history of the Earth than previously thought.

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin's Marine Science Institute have discovered nearly two dozen new types of microbes, many of which use hydrocarbons such as methane and butane as energy sources to survive and grow.

Strains of the bacterium Enterobacter, similar to newly found opportunistic infectious organisms seen in a few hospital settings, have been identified on the International Space Station (ISS).

"Last night was a bit noisy with 40-50 knot winds rattling the tents, but they were not destructive so all is well here at Lake Untersee."

Whether extant life exists in the martian subsurface is an open question.

"We had a very blustery night which made for very noisy tents, but the camp is intact so we are in good shape thus far."

A new study led by The Australian National University (ANU) has investigated the nature of a cosmic phenomenon that slows down star formation, which helps to ensure the universe is a place where life can emerge.

"We have a clear but very blustery day here right now, winds are 30 knots, gusting 45 at times and air temps around -5°C."

Every school kid knows that Earth has a magnetic field -- it's what makes compasses align north-south and lets us navigate the oceans. It also protects the atmosphere, and thus life, from the Sun's powerful wind.

The search for Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars and the evaluation of their occurrence rate is a major topic of research for the exoplanetary community.

The important role of stellar irradiation in envelope removal for planets with diameters of <2 R⊕ has been inferred both through theoretical work and the observed bimodal distribution of small planet occurrence as a function of radius.

Astronomers have gleaned some of the best data yet on the composition of a planet known as HR 8799c -- a young giant gas planet about 7 times the mass of Jupiter that orbits its star every 200 years.

Not all stars are like the Sun, so not all planetary systems can be studied with the same expectations. New research from a University of Washington-led team of astronomers gives updated climate models for the seven planets around the star TRAPPIST-1.

Mars and Earth are like two siblings who have grown apart. There was a time when their resemblance was uncanny: Both were warm, wet and shrouded in thick atmospheres. But 3 or 4 billion years ago, these two worlds took different paths.

"Enclosed is a copy of our latest general weather forecast - we use the Novo forecast since it is only about 100 km from us."

"Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, we have just been busy trying to make up for lost time due to the previous storm and taking advantage of the relatively nice weather we have had lately."

In 1974, the Arecibo Observatory made history by beaming the most powerful radio message into deep space ever made.

The existence of intelligent, interstellar traveling and colonising life is a key assumption behind the Fermi Paradox.

When rains fell on the arid Atacama Desert, it was reasonable to expect floral blooms to follow. Instead, the water brought death.

A low-amplitude periodic signal in the radial-velocity (RV) time-series of Barnard's Star was recently attributed to a planetary companion with a minimum mass of ∼3.2 M⊕ at an orbital period of ∼233 days.

At a distance of 1.8 parsecs, Barnard's star (Gl 699) is a red dwarf with the largest apparent motion of any known stellar object.

Aims. Based on measurements by the Ulysses spacecraft and high-resolution modelling of the motion of interstellar dust (ISD) through the heliosphere we predict the ISD flow in the inner planetary system and on to the Earth.

The nearest single star to the Sun hosts an exoplanet at least 3.2 times as massive as Earth -- a so-called super-Earth.

"The last two days have been pretty nice weather-wise, and very productive."

A Star Trek-inspired handheld device based on a silicon chip could help make rapid, sophisticated medical diagnostics more accessible to people around the world, scientists say.

"The weather improved today with sunshine and light winds greeting us this morning, a nice change of pace from the constant pounding we have had the last few days."

Over the past decade, the study of exoplanets has shifted from their detection to the characterization of their atmospheres.

Changes in solar irradiance and in its spectral distribution are among the main natural drivers of the climate on Earth. However, irradiance measurements are only available for less than four decades, while assessment of solar influence on Earth requires much longer records.

Could there be another planet out there with a society at the same stage of technological advancement as ours?

"We are still recovering from the damaging winds that trashed the camp, but as soon as things calm down we will get busy and pull it all back together."

Earth's water may have originated from both asteroidal material and gas left over from the formation of the Sun, according to new research. The new finding could give scientists important insights about the development of other planets and their potential to support life.

"Our winds have continued unabated likely hitting 40-50 m/s at times."

The presence of water on Mars has been theorized for centuries. Early telescopes revealed ice caps, and early astronomers noted channels that were hypothesized to be natural rivers or creature-created canals.

If extraterrestrial intelligence exists somewhere in our galaxy, a new MIT study proposes that laser technology on Earth could, in principle, be fashioned into something of a planetary porch light -- a beacon strong enough to attract attention from as far as 20,000 light-years away.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) has now made continuous in-situ meteorological measurements for several martian years at Gale crater, Mars.

Scientists at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have found an explanation for a periodicity in the sequence of the genomes of all eukaryotes, from yeast to humans.

The formyl radical HCO has been proposed as the basic precursor of many complex organic molecules such as methanol (CH3OH) or glycolaldehyde (CH2OHCHO).

"Just after getting a couple of tents set up today, the winds started pounding us with 60 knot gusts, and probably increasing this evening to what are likely 75-80 knot winds."

NASA has awarded funding for a new interdisciplinary project called the Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures (LAB). The award, totaling nearly $7 million dollars, will be used to develop new, non-Earth like life detection approaches for use on Mars and on Jupiter and Saturn's icy moons.

Resonating oscillations of a planet's atmosphere caused by gravitational tides and heating from its star could prevent a planet's rotation from steadily slowing over time, according to new research by Caleb Scharf, who is the Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University.

Scientists have reported a theoretical and experimental characterization of DHPT (N(1)‐(2′,3′‐dihydroxypropil)thymine). DHPT is a potential prebiotic nucleoside analogue for the molecule 5-methyluridine.

"Today was a pretty productive day. We turned in early yesterday, everyone was pretty tired from the traverse the day before followed by a day of getting two more tents up and a first cut at organizing the camp."

Update from Dale Andersen via Garmin inReach: Nov 2, 20182:56:30 PM: "Arrived Untersee 3pm UTC, all ok first tent up"

Spending long periods in space not only leads to muscle atrophy and reductions in bone density, it also has lasting effects on the brain. However, little is known about how different tissues of the brain react to exposure to microgravity, and it remains unclear whether and to what extent the neuroanatomical changes so far observed persist following return to normal gravity.

To better support the broad, interdisciplinary field of astrobiology - the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe - NASA is announcing a new programmatic infrastructure for the Astrobiology Program.