Archives

February 2019


Are you an early-career astrobiologist? Would you be interested to contribute to an Astrobiology primer? The first primerwas published in 2006 and second was published in 2016. Now, we are working on the third edition which be hosted as a living document in a NASA-sponsored website.

In a research breakthrough funded by NASA, scientists have synthesized a molecular system that, like DNA, can store and transmit information. This unprecedented feat suggests there could be an alternative to DNA-based life, as we know it on Earth -- a genetic system for life that may be possible on other worlds.

A new astronomical spectrograph built by a Penn State-led team of scientists provides the highest precision measurements to date of infrared signals from nearby stars, allowing astronomers to detect planets capable of having liquid water on their surfaces that orbit cool stars outside our solar system.

The hunt for Earth-like planets, and perhaps extraterrestrial life, just got more precise, thanks to record-setting starlight measurements made possible by a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) "astrocomb."

A major volcanic event could have triggered one of the largest glaciations in Earth's history - the Gaskiers glaciation, which turned the Earth into a giant snowball approximately 580 million years ago.

Dutch scientists have developed an instrument capable of detecting the presence of living plants kilometres away.

How good is our universe at making habitable planets? The answer to this depends on which factors are important for life: Does a planet need to be Earth mass? Does it need to be inside the temperate zone?

With the number of confirmed rocky exoplanets increasing steadily, their characterisation and the search for exoplanetary biospheres is becoming an increasingly urgent issue in astrobiology.

We report our proposal for the establishment of a biocontainment and astrobiology laboratory in a strategic area of Pieve a Nievole (PT) at 28 mt above sea level - to face the lack of biological and astrobiological research centers and all the social, economic and cultural consequences that this project implicate.

In the laboratory, the photo-and thermochemical evolution of ices, made of simple molecules of astrophysical relevance, always leads to the formation of semi-refractory water-soluble organic residues.

We report improved masses, radii, and densities for four planets in two bright M-dwarf systems, K2-3 and GJ3470, derived from a combination of new radial velocity and transit observations. Supplementing K2 photometry with follow-up Spitzer transit observations refined the transit ephemerides of K2-3 b, c, and d by over a factor of 10.

The Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) Electron Spectrometer (ELS) instrument onboard Cassini revealed an unexpected abundance of negative ions above 950 km in Titan's ionosphere.

An international study led by researchers from the Institute of Space Sciences, from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya has discovered that carbonaceous chondrites, a class of meteorites, incorporated hydrated minerals along with organic material from the protoplanetary disk before the formation of planets.

The detection of laser radiation originating from space is a positive indicator of Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (ETI).

An international and multi-disciplinary team coordinated by Abderrazak El Albani at the Institut de chimie des milieux et matériaux de Poitiers (CNRS/Université de Poitiers) has uncovered the oldest fossilised traces of motility.

Three and a half billion years ago Earth hosted life, but was it barely surviving, or thriving? A new study carried out by a multi institutional team with leadership including the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) of Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) provides new answers to this question.

Newly discovered fossilized tracks suggest multicellular life could be 1.5 billion years older than previously thought, according to a new study by an international team of researchers including scientists at the University of Alberta.

The world's oceans could harbor an unpleasant surprise for global warming, based on new research that shows how naturally occurring carbon gases trapped in reservoirs atop the seafloor escaped to superheat the planet in prehistory.

Transit spectroscopy of terrestrial planets around nearby M dwarfs is a primary goal of space missions in coming decades. 3-D climate modeling has shown that slow-synchronous rotating terrestrial planets may develop thick clouds at the substellar point, increasing the albedo.

Context. New estimates of the masses and radii of the seven planets orbiting the ultracool M-dwarf TRAPPIST-1 star permit improved modelling of their compositions, heating by tidal dissipation, and removal of tidal heat by solid-state convection.

By generalizing the theory of convection to any type of thermal and compositional source terms (diabatic processes), we show that thermohaline convection in Earth oceans, fingering convection in stellar atmospheres, and moist convection in Earth atmosphere are deriving from the same general diabatic convective instability.

We report a computational study of the stability and infrared (IR) vibrational spectra of neutral and singly ionised fullerene cages containing between 44 and 70 carbon atoms.

Earth's solid surface and clement climate may be in part due to a massive star in the birth environment of the Sun. Without its radioactive elements injected into the early solar system, our home planet could be a hostile ocean world covered in global ice sheets.

A new study has revealed how a group of deep-sea microbes provides clues to the evolution of life on Earth, according to a recent paper in The ISME Journal.

Bacteria have evolved all manner of adaptations to live in every habitat on Earth. But unlike plants and animals, which can be preserved as fossils, bacteria have left behind little physical evidence of their evolution, making it difficult for scientists to determine exactly when different groups of bacteria evolved.

Recent studies have shown that ocean dynamics can have a significant warming effect on the permanent night sides of 1 to 1 tidally locked terrestrial exoplanets with Earth-like atmospheres and oceans in the middle of the habitable zone.

We apply classical machine vision and machine deep learning methods to prototype signal classifiers for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Our novel approach uses two-dimensional spectrograms of measured and simulated radio signals bearing the imprint of a technological origin.

When we think of life on Earth, we might think of individual examples ranging from animals to bacteria. When astrobiologists study life, however, they have to consider not only individual organisms, but also ecosystems, and the biosphere as a whole.

The Cassini mission offered us the opportunity to monitor the seasonal evolution of Titan's atmosphere from 2004 to 2017, i.e. half a Titan year.

Young stars are often surrounded by a protoplanetary disk where planets are forming. Astronomers study the composition of protoplanetary disks to better understand how planets, like Earth, formed and evolved into their modern chemical composition.

Protoplanetary disks are dust-rich structures around young stars. The crystalline and amorphous materials contained within these disks are variably thermally processed and accreted to make bodies of a wide range of sizes and compositions, depending on the heliocentric distance of formation.

Directly-imaged planetary-mass companions offer unique opportunities in atmospheric studies of exoplanets. They share characteristics of both brown dwarfs and transiting exoplanets, therefore, are critical for connecting atmospheric characterizations for these objects.

Current technology is not able to map the topography of rocky exoplanets, simply because the objects are too faint and far away to resolve them. Nevertheless, indirect effect of topography should be soon observable thanks to photometry techniques, and the possibility of detecting specular reflections.