Archives

March 2019


Astronauts leave behind many things when they boldly go. Bacteria, however, stay with them. Extreme spaceflight conditions can force these bacteria to toughen up, while simultaneously lowering the immune defenses of the stressed, isolated crew. These effects - and the risk of infection - grow with mission duration.

Nitric oxide is a fascinating and versatile molecule, important for all living things as well as our environment: It is highly reactive and toxic, it is used as a signaling molecule, it depletes the ozone layer in our planet's atmosphere and it is the precursor of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O).

This paper outlines some of the possible advancements for the technosignatures searches using the new methods currently rapidly developing in computer science, such as machine learning and deep learning.

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. It is an inherently interdisciplinary field that encompasses astronomy, biology, geology, heliophysics, and planetary science, including complementary laboratory activities and field studies conducted in a wide range of terrestrial environments. Combining inherent scientific interest and public appeal, the search for life in the solar system and beyond provides a scientific rationale for many current and future activities carried out by the National Aeronautics and Science Administration (NASA) and other national and international agencies and organizations.

A Southwest Research Institute-led team discovered evidence of abundant water-bearing minerals on the surface of the near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu.

Carbon monoxide detectors in our homes warn of a dangerous buildup of that colorless, odorless gas we normally associate with death.

L-type and T-type dwarfs span the boundaries between main-sequence stars, brown dwarfs, and planetary-mass objects.

We report the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discovery of three terrestrial-sized planets transiting L 98-59 (TOI-175, TIC 307210830) -- a bright M dwarf at a distance of 10.6 pc.

Some atmospheric gases have been proposed as counter indicators to the presence of life on an exoplanet if remotely detectable at sufficient abundance (i.e., antibiosignatures), informing the search for biosignatures and potentially fingerprinting uninhabited habitats.

The solar tide in an ancient Venusian ocean is simulated using a dedicated numerical tidal model. Simulations with varying ocean depth and rotational periods ranging from -243 to 64 sidereal Earth days are used to calculate the tidal dissipation rates and associated tidal torque.

The habitability of a planet depends on various factors, such as delivery of water during the formation, the co-evolution of the interior and the atmosphere, as well as the stellar irradiation which changes in time.

Water is fundamental to our understanding of the evolution of planetary systems and the delivery of volatiles to the surfaces of potentially habitable planets.

Having discovered that Earth-sized planets are common, we are now embarking on a journey to determine if Earth-like planets are also common.

A study by scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) on the magnetic fields of planets has found that most planets discovered in other solar systems are unlikely to be as hospitable to life as Earth.

The recent discovery of a staggering diversity of planets beyond the Solar System has brought with it a greatly expanded search space for habitable worlds.

Thousands of planets beyond our solar system have been discovered to date, dozens of which are rocky in composition and are orbiting within the circumstellar habitable zone of their host star.

The circumstellar habitable zone and its various refinements serves as a useful entry point for discussing the potential for a planet to generate and sustain life.

The TRAPPIST-1 system is sufficiently closely packed that tides raised by one planet on another are significant. We investigate whether this source of tidal heating is comparable to eccentricity tides raised by the star.

During recent decades, data from space missions have provided strong evidence of deep liquid oceans underneath a thin outer icy crust on several moons of Jupiter, particularly Europa.

There is now solid experimental evidence of at least one supernova explosion within 100 pc of Earth within the last few million years, from measurements of the short-lived isotope 60Fe in widespread deep-ocean samples, as well as in the lunar regolith and cosmic rays.

The study of the composition of brown dwarf atmospheres helped to understand their formation and evolution. Similarly, the study of exoplanet atmospheres is expected to constrain their formation and evolutionary states.

Understanding the sources of lunar water is crucial for studying the history of lunar evolution, and also the solar wind interaction with the Moon and other airless bodies.

Evidence from the solar system suggests that, unlike Venus and Mars, the presence of a strong magnetic dipole moment on Earth has helped maintain liquid water on its surface.

Nitrogen oxides are thought to play a significant role as a nitrogen reservoir and to potentially participate in the formation of more complex species.

The habitable zone (HZ) is the region around a star(s) where standing bodies of water could exist on the surface of a rocky planet.

Scientists looking for signs of life beyond our solar system face major challenges, one of which is that there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone to consider. To narrow the search, they must figure out: What kinds of stars are most likely to host habitable planets?

We model the settlement of the galaxy by space-faring civilizations in order to address issues related to the Fermi Paradox.

We modeled the transit signatures in the Lya line of a putative Earth-sized planet orbiting in the HZ of the M dwarf GJ436.

Habitable zones are regions around stars where large bodies of liquid water can be sustained on a planet or satellite.

Tidal heating is the prime suspect behind Enceladus's south polar heating anomaly and global subsurface ocean. No model of internal tidal dissipation, however, can explain at the same time the total heat budget and the focusing of the energy at the south pole.

Last August, Abdelrhman Mohamed found himself hiking deep into the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. Unlike thousands of tourists who trek to admire the park's iconic geysers and hot springs every year, the WSU graduate student was traveling with a team of scientists to hunt for life within them.

An international team of researchers, which includes scientists from McMaster's School of Geography & Earth Sciences, NASA, and others, is tackling one of the biggest problems of space travel to Mars: what happens when we get there?

WHY WE PERFORMED THIS AUDIT: Supporting scientific and technological research to reveal the unknown about Earth, its Sun and solar system, and the universe for the benefit of humankind is an important part of NASA's mission. In 2017, NASA spent approximately $600 million on this type of research largely through grants and cooperative agreements.

Brinicles are self-assembling tubular ice membrane structures, centimeters to meters in length, found beneath sea ice in the polar regions of Earth.

Multiple lines of evidence point to one or more moderately nearby supernovae, with the strongest signal ~2.6 Ma. We build on previous work to argue for the likelihood of cosmic ray ionization of the atmosphere and electron cascades leading to more frequent lightning, and therefore an increase in nitrate deposition and in wildfires.

Typically, H3+ is formed by collisions involving hydrogen gas, but its chemistry at the molecular level is relatively unknown. When organic molecules are hit by a laser pulse, they are ionized and the reaction begins.

NASA has decided to replace the current magnetometer on the upcoming Europa Clipper mission with a less complex instrument. The Europa Clipper mission, launching in the 2020s, will be the first dedicated and detailed study of a probable ocean world beyond Earth.

For almost a decade, astronomers have tried to explain why so many pairs of planets outside our solar system have an odd configuration -- their orbits seem to have been pushed apart by a powerful unknown mechanism.

A team led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich paleontologist Adriana López-Arbarello has identified three hitherto unknown fossil fish species in the Swiss Alps, which provide new insights into the diversification of the genus Eosemionotus.

On early earth, a series of spontaneous events needed to happen in order for life as we know it to begin. One of those phenomena is the formation of compartments enclosed by lipid membranes.