Archives

December 2018


Chondrites are undifferentiated sediments of material left over from the earliest solar system and are widely considered as representatives of the unprocessed building blocks of the terrestrial planets.

Early Mars climate research has well-defined goals (Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group 2018). Achieving these goals requires geologists and climate modelers to coordinate.

Earth's magnetic field shields space station crew from much of the radiation that can damage the DNA in our cells and lead to serious health problems.

NASA's investment in new instruments to analyze extraterrestrial samples is insufficient to provide for replacement of existing instruments, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. If NASA does not invest additional funds into the replacement of current instrumentation and development of new technologies, technical staff support, and training for the next generation of analysts, current capabilities cannot be sustained, and the full scientific impact afforded by returned samples might not be realized.

Kepler-730 is a planetary system hosting a statistically validated hot Jupiter in a 6.49-day orbit and an additional transiting candidate in a 2.85-day orbit.

This report is the product of the NASA Technosignatures Workshop held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, in September 2018. This workshop was convened by NASA for the organization to learn more about the current field and state of the art of searches for technosignatures, and what role NASA might play in these searches in the future. The report, written by the workshop participants, summarizes the material presented at the workshop and incorporates additional inputs from the participants.

We report a comprehensive analysis of the global spectrophotometric properties of Ceres using Dawn Framing Camera images collected from April to June 2015 during the RC3 and Survey mission phases.

Using the infrared satellite AKARI, a Japanese research team has detected the existence of water in the form of hydrated minerals in a number of asteroids for the first time.

New research suggests that the sugar molecule that puts the "D" in DNA -- 2-deoxyribose -- could exist in the far reaches of space. A team of NASA astrophysicists were able to create DNA's sugar in laboratory conditions that mimic interstellar space.

Photochemistry induced by stellar UV flux should produce haze particles in exoplanet atmospheres. Recent observations indicate that haze and/or cloud layers exist in the atmospheres of exoplanets.

The search for Earth-like planets around late-type stars using ultra-stable spectrographs requires a very precise characterization of the stellar activity and the magnetic cycle of the star, since these phenomena induce radial velocity (RV) signals that can be misinterpreted as planetary signals.

In their search for life in solar systems near and far, researchers have often accepted the presence of oxygen in a planet's atmosphere as the surest sign that life may be present there. A new Johns Hopkins study, however, recommends a reconsideration of that rule of thumb.

The potential habitability of known exoplanets is often categorized by a nominal equilibrium temperature assuming a Bond albedo of either 0.3, similar to Earth, or 0.

The high energy radiation environment around M dwarf stars strongly impacts the characteristics of close-in exoplanet atmospheres, but these wavelengths are difficult to observe due to geocoronal and interstellar contamination.

Atmospheric nitrogen may be a necessary ingredient for the habitability of a planet since its presence helps to prevent water loss from a planet. The present day nitrogen isotopic ratio, 15N/14N, in the Earth's atmosphere is a combination of the primitive Earth's ratio and the ratio that might have been delivered in comets and asteroids.

In space, the human body loses muscle mass. Although living in microgravity requires no heavy lifting, this loss of muscle reduces physical performance.

A spectacular new hydrothermal vent field, named JaichMatt, has been discovered during an expedition aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute's R/V Falkor.

"The camp at Lake Untersee is now closed, we pulled the last three tents down early yesterday morning and completed packing our cargo into the sea container with the remainder going onto the other two cargo sleds."

About 2.6 million years ago, an oddly bright light arrived in the prehistoric sky and lingered there for weeks or months. It was a supernova some 150 light-years away from Earth.

Our understanding of when the very first animals started living on land is helped by identifying trace fossils--the tracks and trails left by ancient animals--in sedimentary rocks that were deposited on the continents.

"The last week and a half has seen a lot of variability in the weather with katabatics visiting us frequently - this morning at 6am we had gusts hitting 50 knots."

The origin of the reservoirs of water on Earth is debated. The Earth's crust may contain at least three times more water than the oceans.

Microorganisms living underneath the surface of the earth have a total carbon mass of 15 to 23 billion tons, hundreds of times more than that of humans, according to findings announced by the Deep Carbon Observatory and coauthored by UT Professor of Microbiology Karen Lloyd.

Recently analyzed data from NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has revealed water locked inside the clays that make up its scientific target, the asteroid Bennu.

A team led by Southwest Research Institute has concluded that the surface of dwarf planet Ceres is rich in organic matter.

Our prehistoric Earth, bombarded with asteroids and lightening, rife with bubbling geothermal pools, may not seem hospitable today. But somewhere in the chemical chaos of our early planet, life did form.

We report on high-resolution spectra obtained by the Automated Planet Finder and high resolution optical Levy Spectrometer and the search for periodic spectral modulations, such as those reported in Borra (2016).

The Sun provides the energy required to sustain life on Earth and drive our planet's atmospheric circulation. However, establishing a solid physical connection between solar and tropospheric variability has posed a considerable challenge across the spectrum of Earth-system science.

We present significant differences in the simulated atmospheric flow for warm, tidally-locked small Neptunes and super Earths (based on a nominal GJ 1214b) when solving the simplified, and commonly used, primitive dynamical equations or the full Navier-Stokes equations.

Context. The existence of an extended neutral hydrogen exosphere around small planets can be used as an evidence for the presence of water in their lower atmosphere but, to date, such feature has not been securely detected in rocky exoplanets.

"The last few days have been very nice with mild temperatures (-7°C to +2°C), sunshine and little wind."

By developing a new method for measuring isotopic ratios of water and carbon dioxide remotely, scientists have found that the water in Saturn's rings and satellites is unexpectedly like water on the Earth, except on Saturn's moon Phoebe, where the water is more unusual than on any other object so far studied in the solar system.

It's the first time a visitor from another star system has been seen nearby. But what is it? An asteroid, a comet ... or an alien artifact?