Archives

August 2019


New research finds Arctic Ocean currents and storms are moving bacteria from ocean algae blooms into the atmosphere where the particles help clouds form.

The widespread presence of ribonucleic acid (RNA) catalysts and cofactors in Earth's biosphere today suggests that RNA was the first biopolymer to support Darwinian evolution.

The Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment's Fourier Transform Spectrometer on the SCISAT satellite has been measuring infrared transmission spectra of Earth during Solar occultations since 2004.

Two McGill University astronomers have assembled a "fingerprint" for Earth, which could be used to identify a planet beyond our solar system capable of supporting life.

Thanks to the advances in modern instrumentation we have learned about many exoplanets that span a wide range of masses and composition.

One of the strangest things in the cosmos might be - us. Among the thousands of planets confirmed to be in orbit around other stars, we've found nothing quite like our home planet.

Almost all planetary atmospheres are affected by disequilibrium chemical processes.

A new study indicates that some exoplanets may have better conditions for life to thrive than Earth itself has.

Microbial life on Mars may potentially be transported across the planet on dust particles carried by wind, according to a study conducted in the Atacama Desert in North Chile, a well-known Mars analogue. The findings are published in Scientific Reports.

The enzyme-nitrogenase-can be traced back to the universal common ancestor of all cells more than four billion years ago.

Geothermal manifestations at Earth's surface can be mapped and characterized by a variety of well-established exploration methods. However, mapping hydrothermal vents in aquatic environments is more challenging as conventional methods can no longer be applied.

The frequency of Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars, hereafter η⊕, is a key parameter to evaluate the yield of nearby Earth analogues that can be detected and characterized by future missions.

We present a formalism for a first-order estimation of the magnetosphere radius of exoplanets orbiting stars in the range from 0.08 to 1.3 Mo. With this radius, we estimate the atmospheric surface that is not protected from stellar winds.

The rare isotope iron-60 is created in massive stellar explosions. Only a very small amount of this isotope reaches the earth from distant stars. Now, a research team with significant involvement from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has discovered iron-60 in Antarctic snow for the first time. The scientists suggest that the iron isotope comes from the interstellar neighborhood.

Scientists have long known that water was abundant on ancient Mars, but there has been no consensus on whether liquid water was common, or whether it was largely frozen in ice.

One of the most exciting scientific challenges is to detect Earth-like planets in the habitable zones of other stars in the galaxy and search for evidence of life.

Galaxies represent the main form of organization of matter in our universe. Therefore, they are of obvious interest for the new multidisciplinary field of astrobiology.

When planets receive insolation above a certain critical value called the runaway threshold, liquid surface water vaporizes completely, which forms the inner edge of the habitable zone.

A new study provides the most accurate estimate of the frequency that planets that are similar to Earth in size and in distance from their host star occur around stars similar to our Sun.

The answer to "How did the first organisms on Earth incorporate the critical element phosphorus?" has been a quandary for researchers, but, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa physical chemists believe a meteoric visitor could be the critical link.

Resolving spatially-varying exoplanet features from single-point light curves is essential for determining whether Earth-like worlds harbor geological features and/or climate systems that influence habitability.

Astronomers have uncovered a new way of searching for life in the cosmos. Harsh ultraviolet radiation flares from red suns, once thought to destroy surface life on planets, might help uncover hidden biospheres. Their radiation could trigger a protective glow from life on exoplanets called biofluorescence, according to new Cornell University research.

Small low-mass stars are favourable targets for the detection of rocky habitable planets. In particular, planetary systems in the solar neighbourhood are interesting and suitable for precise characterisation. The Red Dots campaigns seek to discover rocky planets orbiting nearby low-mass stars.

The study, led by Jacob Lustig-Yaeger, a UW doctoral student in astronomy, finds that the James Webb telescope, set to launch in 2021, might be able to learn key information about the atmospheres of the TRAPPIST-1 worlds even in its first year of operation, unless -- as an old song goes -- clouds get in the way.

The work is devoted to the adaptation of the results of laboratory studies of the laser-induced dissociation of molecules of benzene adsorbed on a quartz substrate to the conditions of the interstellar medium.

The current goals of the astrobiology community are focused on developing a framework for the detection of biosignatures, or evidence thereof, on objects inside and outside of our solar system.

Comets contain abundant amounts of organic and inorganic species. Many of the volatile molecules in comets have also been observed in the interstellar medium and some of them even with similar relative abundances, indicating formation under similar conditions or even sharing a common chemical pathway.

Despite surface liquid water's importance to habitability, observationally diagnosing its presence or absence on exoplanets is still an open problem.

NASA has awarded 15 grants for new space biology research designed to help the agency achieve its goals under the Artemis lunar exploration program.

A famous experiment in 1953 showed that amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, could have formed spontaneously under the atmospheric conditions of early Earth.

This White Paper presents a mission concept called MIRECLE - the Mid-InfraRed Exoplanet CLimate Explorer.

The macroturbulent atmospheric circulation of Earth-like planets mediates their equator-to-pole heat transport.

In this work, we motivate, describe, and announce a living bibliography for academic papers and other works published in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

The diverse methodologies and myriad orthogonal proposals for the best technosignatures to search for in SETI can make it difficult to develop an effective and balanced search strategy, especially from a funding perspective.

Exposure to chronic, low dose radiation -- the conditions present in deep space -- causes neural and behavioral impairments in mice, researchers report in eNeuro.

When Earth was a lifeless planet about 4 billion years ago, chemical components came together in tiny molecular chains that would later evolve into proteins, crucial life building blocks. A new study has shown how fortuitously some early predecessors of protein may have fallen into line.

In this white paper, we recommend the European Space Agency plays a proactive role in developing a global collaborative effort to construct a large high-contrast imaging space telescope, e.g. as currently under study by NASA.

Hydrogen peroxide is part of an important radiolytic cycle on Europa and may be a critical source of oxidants to the putative subsurface ocean.

Some of the major discoveries of the recent Cassini-Huygens mission have put Titan and Enceladus firmly on the Solar System map. The mission has revolutionised our view of Solar System satellites, arguably matching their scientific importance with that of their planet.

Using Gaussian Process regression to analyze the Martian surface methane Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) data reported by Webster (2018), we find that the TLS data, taken as a whole, are not statistically consistent with seasonal variability.

The Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) observed thermal emission in the far- and mid-infrared (from 10 cm−1 to 1500 cm−1), enabling spatiotemporal studies of ethane on Titan across the span of the Cassini mission from 2004 through 2017.

Exoplanet science is one of the most thriving fields of modern astrophysics.

We investigate the stability of idealized planetary systems consisting of five planets, each equal in mass to the Earth, orbiting a one solar mass star.

The genes that first enabled plants to grow shoots and conquer the land have been identified by University of Bristol researchers.

Imagine standing in a lumberyard and being asked to build a house -- without blueprints or instructions of any kind.

The remains of a microscopic drop of ancient seawater has assisted in rewriting the history of Earth's evolution when it was used to re-establish the time that plate tectonics started on the planet.

One of the most important events in evolutionary history occurred around 500 million years ago with the spread of plant life from water to land.

In the hunt for life on other worlds, astronomers scour over planets that are light-years away. They need ways to identify life from afar -- but what counts as good evidence?

Earth didn't always harbor life. But around 4 billion years ago, something in the environment changed, and systems with biological properties began to emerge.

The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawai'i recently recorded the highest concentration of carbon dioxide, or CO2, levels in human history.

The possibility of low but nontrivial atmospheric oxygen (O2) levels during the mid-Proterozoic (between 1.8 and 0.8 billion years ago, Ga) has important ramifications for understanding Earth's O2 cycle, the evolution of complex life and evolving climate stability.

The upcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) means that we will soon have the capability to characterize the atmospheres of rocky exoplanets.