Archives

September 2019


Interstellar complex organic molecules (iCOMs) can be loosely defined as chemical compounds with at least six atoms in which at least one is carbon.

According to the Snowball Earth hypothesis, Earth has experienced periods of low-latitude glaciation in its deep past.

An experiment shows that one of the basic units of life -- nucleobases -- could have originated within giant gas clouds interspersed between the stars.

Caltech scientists have discovered a new species of worm thriving in the extreme environment of Mono Lake. This new species, temporarily dubbed Auanema sp., has three different sexes, can survive 500 times the lethal human dose of arsenic, and carries its young inside its body like a kangaroo.

Scientists have found exceptionally preserved microbial remains in some of Earth's oldest rocks in Western Australia - a major advance in the field, offering clues for how life on Earth originated.

The detection of Interstellar Objects passing through the Solar system offers the promise of constraining the physical and chemical processes involved in planetary formation in other extrasolar systems.

Formamide (NH2CHO) has been identified as a potential precursor of a wide variety of organic compounds essential to life, and many biochemical studies propose it likely played a crucial role in the context of the origin of life on our planet.

A provocative new study looks at the resource utilization and technological strategies that would be needed to make a Mars population of one million people food self-sufficient.

It is generally accepted that planetary surfaces were covered with molten silicate, a "magma ocean", during the formation of terrestrial planets.

With the recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo program's first landing of humans on the moon, the eyes and hopes of the world again turned skyward.

We have analyzed spectra recorded between 50 and 650 cm−1 by the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) aboard the Cassini spacecraft at low and high emission angles to determine simultaneously the H2 mole fraction and ortho-to-para ratio in Titan's troposphere.

Direct imaging of exo-Earths and search for life is one of the most exciting and challenging objectives for future space observatories.

We analyze the potential transit light curve effects due to a Clarke belt of satellites around an exoplanet.

The most recently discovered group of rocky bodies nearby Earth are termed co-orbital objects. An attractive location for extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) to locate a probe to observe Earth throughout our deep past are the co-orbital objects.

Low mass stars might offer today the best opportunities to detect and characterise planetary systems, especially those harbouring close-in low mass temperate planets.

Venus may have been a temperate planet hosting liquid water for 2-3 billion years, until a dramatic transformation starting over 700 million years ago resurfaced around 80% of the planet.

There is growing evidence that brown dwarfs may be comparable to main-sequence stars in terms of their abundance. In this paper, we explore the prospects for the existence of life on Earth-like planets around brown dwarfs.

Radar observations of Saturn's moons, Mimas, Enceladus and Tethys, show that Enceladus is acting as a 'snow-cannon,' coating itself and its neighbours with fresh water-ice particles to make them dazzlingly reflective.

An international study led by researchers from Lund University in Sweden has found that a collision in the asteroid belt 470 million years ago created drastic changes to life on Earth.

Carbon-14 (14C) is produced in the atmosphere when neutrons from cosmic-ray air showers are captured by 14N nuclei. Atmospheric 14C becomes trapped in air bubbles in polar ice as compacted snow (firn) transforms into ice.

NASA has barely scratched the surface of Mars - literally. While past rovers have dug inches into the rusty soils of the Red Planet, NASA is testing out a drill that can go feet deep and operate autonomously with minimal human guidance.

University of Washington astrobiologist Rory Barnes has created software that simulates multiple aspects of planetary evolution across billions of years, with an eye toward finding and studying potentially habitable worlds.

Investigating the atmospheres of rocky exoplanets is key to performing comparative planetology between such worlds and the terrestrial planets that reside in the inner Solar System.

A team of oceanographers are heading out on a voyage of discovery this month, exploring in detail for the first time a hydrothermal vent field in the Arctic Ocean.

For decades, chemists have tested theories for how life began on Earth. One hypothesis has caught the scientific imagination for years: RNA World.

Throughout much of human history, space was thought to be a void in which only ions or radicals existed. It was only in the last half of the 20th century that scientists began to discover the existence of molecules, such as ammonia, in space.

The pathways through which incoming energy is distributed between the surface and atmosphere has been analyzed for the Earth. However, the effect of the spectral energy distribution of a host star on the energy budget of an orbiting planet may be significant given the wavelength-dependent absorption properties of atmospheric CO2 and water vapor, and surface ice and snow.

The transit method is biased toward short orbital period planets that are interior to their host star's Habitable Zone (HZ).

To date a dozen transiting "Tatooines" or circumbinary planets (CBPs) have been discovered, by eye, in the data from the Kepler mission; by contrast, thousands of confirmed circumstellar planets orbiting around single stars have been detected using automated algorithms.

Comparing compositional models of the terrestrial planets provides insights into physicochemical processes that produced planet-scale similarities and differences.

Scientists at TU Dortmund University have generated high-accuracy 3D models of terrain within the landing ellipse of the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars rover, Rosalind Franklin. The Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) have a resolution of about 25 cm per pixel and will help scientists to understand the geography and geological characteristics of the region and to plan the path of the rover around the site.

The SETI Institute announced a new gift by Qualcomm founder Franklin Antonio that funds the first phase of a 3-year initiative to revitalize the Allen Telescope Array (ATA).

A recent study supported in part by the NASA Exobiology Program provides further details about lipid biomarkers in stromatolites. The research focuses on microbial mat communities in ponds at Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Researchers supported in part by the Exobiology Program have provided new information about the oxygenation history of the Earth's oceans during the mid-Proterozoic using uranium (U) isotope data.

Scientists supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Program have developed a new method to analyze mixtures of glycine and glycine oligomers using ion-pair high-performance liquid chromatography (IP-HPLC).

The 15th Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) was held from July 22-26, 2019 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, with 75 participants presenting 31 talks and 44 posters.

In the past decade, observations from space and ground have found H2O to be the most abundant molecular species, after hydrogen, in the atmospheres of hot, gaseous, extrasolar planets. Being the main molecular carrier of oxygen, H2O is a tracer of the origin and the evolution mechanisms of planets.

In The Little Prince, the classic novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the titular prince lives on a house-sized asteroid so small that he can watch the sunset any time of day by moving his chair a few steps.

Ever since the discovery of the first exoplanet, astronomers have made steady progress towards finding and probing planets in the habitable zone of their host stars, where the conditions could be right for liquid water to form and life to sprawl.

We present modeled detection limits of the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) and the Wide-Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST) to an optical and infrared laser which could be used by an extraterrestrial civilization to signal their presence.

The discovery of planets orbiting stars other than the Sun has accelerated over the past decade, and this trend will continue as new space- and ground-based observatories employ next-generation instrumentation to search the skies for habitable worlds.

The first computational model of solid-phase chemistry in cometary nuclear ices is presented. An astrochemical kinetics model, MAGICKAL, is adapted to trace the chemical evolution in multiple layers of cometary ice, over a representative period of 5 Gyr.

When the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs slammed into the planet, the impact set wildfires, triggered tsunamis and blasted so much sulfur into the atmosphere that it blocked the sun, which caused the global cooling that ultimately doomed the dinos.

The Moon-forming giant impact extensively melts and partially vaporizes the silicate Earth and delivers a substantial mass of metal to Earth's core.

Liquid water oceans are at the center of our search for life on exoplanets because water is a strict requirement for life as we know it. However, oceans are dynamic habitats--and some oceans may be better hosts for life than others.

A day is the time for Earth to make one complete rotation on its axis, a year is the time for Earth to make one revolution around the Sun -- reminders that basic units of time and periods on Earth are intimately linked to our planet's motion in space relative to the Sun. In fact, we mostly live our lives to the rhythm of these astronomical cycles.

Atmospheric scintillation caused by optical turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere can be the dominant source of noise in ground-based photometric observations of bright targets, which is a particular concern for ground-based exoplanet transit photometry.

We present the design of a point-and-shoot non-imaging full-Stokes spectropolarimeter dedicated to detecting life on Earth from an orbiting platform like the ISS.

A team of scientists has discovered a new possible pathway toward forming carbon structures in space using a specialized chemical exploration technique at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

Astronomical calculations reveal the solar system's dynamical evolution, including its chaoticity, and represent the backbone of cyclostratigraphy and astrochronology.

This paper reviews habitability conditions for a terrestrial planet from the point of view of geosciences. It addresses how interactions between the interior of a planet or a moon and its atmosphere and surface (including hydrosphere and biosphere) can affect habitability of the celestial body.

We present the observational result of a glycine precursor, methylamine (CH3NH2), together with methanol (CH3OH) and methanimine (CH2NH) towards high-mass star-forming regions, NGC6334I, G10.47+0.03, G31.41+0.3, and W51~e1/e2 using ALMA.