Archives

February 2020


This paper characterizes the first protein to be discovered in a meteorite. Amino acid polymers previously observed in Acfer 086 and Allende meteorites [1,2] have been further characterized in Acfer 086 via high precision MALDI mass spectrometry to reveal a principal unified structure of molecular weight 2320 Daltons that involves chains of glycine and hydroxy-glycine residues terminated by iron atoms, with additional oxygen and lithium atoms.

We examined the solar gravitational lens (SGL) as the means to produce direct high-resolution, multipixel images of exoplanets.

Binary systems are very common among field stars. While this relatively small number of planets in binaries is probably partly due to strong observational biases.

University of British Columbia astronomy student Michelle Kunimoto has discovered 17 new planets, including a potentially habitable, Earth-sized world, by combing through data gathered by NASA's Kepler mission.

Astronomers have found an exoplanet more than twice the size of Earth to be potentially habitable, opening the search for life to planets significantly larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune.

Scientists have devised new analytical tools to break down the enigmatic history of Mars' atmosphere -- and whether life was once possible there.

Exoplanets orbiting M dwarfs present a valuable opportunity for their detection and atmospheric characterisation. This is evident from recent inferences of H2O in such atmospheres, including that of the habitable-zone exoplanet K2-18b.

Upcoming telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), or the Extremely Large Telescope (ELTs), may soon be able to characterize, through transmission, emission or reflection spectroscopy, the atmospheres of rocky exoplanets orbiting nearby M dwarfs.

The formation and growth of refractory matter on pre-existing interstellar dust grain surfaces was studied experimentally by annealing neon-ice matrices in which potential precursors of silicate grains (Mg and Fe atoms, SiO and SiO2 molecules) and of solid carbon (Cn molecules, n = 2-10) were initially isolated.

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has an extensive Program Officers list of contact information for all of its research programs. Virtually everything SMD does has a contact listed - except Astrobiology. The word is not mentioned at all - even though many of its sub topics are mentioned. NASA issues research solicitations for "Astrobiology" yet they can't be bothered to tell people who to contact for the programs managed under "Astrobiology" at NASA?

Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have discovered a non-oxygen breathing animal. The unexpected finding changes one of science's assumptions about the animal world.

We have performed a stratigraphic and mineralogical analysis of a vertical transect across a ridge located at the distal end of a system of eroded alluvial deposits in the northern Atacama Desert of Chile.

When our sun belches out a hot stream of charged particles in Earth's general direction, it doesn't just mess up communications satellites. It might also be scrambling the navigational sense of California gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus), causing them to strand on land, according to a Duke University graduate student.

Small planets are common around late-M dwarfs and can be detected through highly precise photometry by the transit method. Planets orbiting nearby stars are particularly important as they are often the best-suited for future follow-up studies.

Virginia Tech paleontologists have made a remarkable discovery in China: 1 billion-year-old micro-fossils of green seaweeds that could be related to the ancestor of the earliest land plants and trees that first developed 450 million years ago.

Can multicellular life be distinguished from single cellular life on an exoplanet? We hypothesize that abundant upright photosynthetic multicellular life (trees) will cast shadows at high sun angles that will distinguish them from single cellular life and test this using Earth as an exoplanet.

Recent observations of rocky super-Earths have revealed an apparent wider distribution of Fe/Mg ratios, or core to mantle ratios, than the planets in our Solar System. This study aims to understand how much of the chemical diversity in the super-Earth population can arise from giant impacts during planetary formation.

Astronomical infrared spectral features at ~6.6, 9.8 and 20 micronm have recently been suggested as being due to the planar graphene form of C24 carbon cluster.

A signal originally detected by the Kepler spacecraft has been validated as an exoplanet using the Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF), an astronomical spectrograph built by a Penn State team and recently installed on the 10m Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas.

A team of Cambridge scientists working on the intersection between biology and computation has found that random gene activity helps patterns form during development of a model multicellular system.

The variability of the spectral solar irradiance (SSI) over the course of the 11-year solar cycle is one of the manifestations of solar magnetic activity. There is a strong evidence that the SSI variability has an effect on the Earth's atmosphere.

Enstatite chondrites and aubrites are meteorites that show the closest similarities to the Earth in many isotope systems that undergo mass-independent and mass-dependent isotope fractionations.

Terrestrial-type exoplanets orbiting nearby red dwarf stars (M-dwarfs) are among the best targets for atmospheric characterization and biosignature searches in the near future.

Data from a massive search for cosmic radio emission released Feb 14. by the Breakthrough Listen Initiative--the most comprehensive survey yet of radio emissions from the Milky Way--has allowed astronomers to look for technological signatures of extraterrestrial civilizations that might be looking for us.

Most planetary systems -- including our own -- are born within stellar clusters, where interactions with neighboring stars can help shape the system architecture.

In the interstellar medium, the cosmic elemental carbon abundance includes the total carbon in both gas and solid phases.

Two particularly tenacious species of bacteria have colonized the potable water dispenser aboard the International Space Station (ISS), but a new study suggests that they are no more dangerous than closely related strains on Earth.

The Cuatro Cienegas Basin, located in Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico, was once a shallow sea that became isolated from the Gulf of Mexico around 43 million years ago.

In a generic brick building on the northwestern edge of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center campus in Greenbelt, Maryland, thousands of computers packed in racks the size of vending machines hum in a deafening chorus of data crunching.

The ExoMol database aims to provide comprehensive molecular line lists for exoplanetary and other hot atmospheres.

We have studied the pressure and temperature dependence of solubility of nitrogen in methane and ethane using vapor-liquid equilibrium simulations of binary mixtures of nitrogen in methane and ethane for a range of pressures between 1.5 atm and 3.5 atm and temperatures between 90 K and 110 K, thermodynamic conditions that may exist on the Saturn's moon, Titan.

Phosphorus is an essential element for all known life, and the global phosphorus cycle is widely believed to be a key factor limiting the extent of Earth's biosphere.

Scientists have discovered thousands of exoplanets, including dozens of terrestrial -- or rocky -- worlds in the habitable zones around their parent stars.

We report on a search for artificial narrowband signals of 20 stars within the restricted Earth Transit Zone as a part of the ten-year Breakthrough Listen (BL) search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

In an effort to measure the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect for the TRAPPIST-1 system, we performed high-resolution spectroscopy during transits of planets e, f, and b.

Formation of interstellar complex organic molecules is currently thought to be dominated by the barrierless coupling between radicals on the interstellar icy grain surfaces.

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is the first single-cell green algae data to be submitted to NASA GeneLab's Data Repository. Microalgae such as this convert light, water, & carbon dioxide into biomass under artificial light conditions, a necessity for space photosynthetic production.

Emerging technologies and new strategies are opening a revitalized era in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

The Breakthrough Listen Initiative today (Friday, Feb. 14) released data from the most comprehensive survey yet of radio emissions from the plane of the Milky Way galaxy and the region around its central black hole, and it is inviting the public to search the data for signals from intelligent civilizations.

With radii ranging between those of the Earth (1 Rearth) and Neptune (~3.9 Rearth), small planets constitute more than half of the inventory of the 4000-plus exoplanets discovered so far.

Conditions on Saturn's moon Titan suggest dust devils, which are convective, dust-laden plumes, may be active.

Since their discovery in 1991, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) -- a novel one-dimensional carbon allotrope -- have attracted considerable interest worldwide because of their potential technological applications such as electric and optical devices.

We present our results from a mid-infrared interferometric survey targeted at the planet-forming region in the circumstellar disks around low- and intermediate-mass young stars.

The upcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) combined with the unique features of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system should enable the young field of exoplanetology to enter into the realm of temperate Earth-sized worlds.

Briny water may form on the surface of Mars a few days per year, research by Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Norbert Schorghofer shows.

In the interstellar medium, carbon is distributed between the gas and solid phases. However, while about half of the expected carbon abundance can be accounted for in the gas phase, there is considerable uncertainty as to the amount incorporated in interstellar dust.

Titan has an abundance of lakes and seas, as confirmed by Cassini. Major components of these liquid bodies include methane (CH4) and ethane (C2H6); however, evidence indicates that minor components such as ethylene (C2H4) may also exist in the lakes.

Understanding the Earth's carbon cycle has important implications for understanding climate change and the health of biospheres.

The world is waking up to the fact that human-driven carbon emissions are responsible for warming our climate, driving unprecedented changes to ecosystems, and placing us on course for the sixth mass extinction event in Earth's history.

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) may have major importance for planetary and stellar evolution. Stellar CME parameters, such as mass and velocity, have yet not been determined statistically.

Food and energy availability cause physical changes in acid-loving microorganisms that are used to study Earth's climate history, according to research from Dartmouth College.

We examine the mechanisms by which atmosphere can be eroded by giant impacts onto Earth-like planets with thin atmospheres, using 3D smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations with sufficient resolution to directly model the fate of low-mass atmospheres for the first time.

One of the chief paradoxes of molecular oxygen (O2) is that it is an essential requirement for multicellular eukaryotes on Earth while simultaneously posing a threat to their survival via the formation of reactive oxygen species.

Observations have revealed in the Kepler data a depleted region separating smaller super-Earths from larger sub-Neptunes. This can be explained as an evaporation valley between planets with and without H/He that is caused by atmospheric escape.

Robust atmospheric and radiative transfer modeling will be required to properly interpret reflected light and thermal emission spectra of terrestrial exoplanets.

In recent years, it has become clear that a substantial fraction of transiting exoplanets have some form of aerosol present in their atmospheres.

Researchers supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Program have shown that carbon on Earth could be as much as seven billion years old.

Astrobiologists supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Program have used autonomous technology to robotically explore the Kolumbo submarine volcano off the coast of Greece's Santorini Island.

Transit Timing Variations, or TTVs, can be a very efficient way of constraining masses and eccentricities of multi-planet systems. Recent measurements of the TTVs of TRAPPIST-1 led to an estimate of the masses of the planets, enabling an estimate of their densities.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) attempts to address the possibility of the presence of technological civilizations beyond the Earth.

Scientists studying so-called 'flammable ice' in the Sea of Japan have made a startling discovery - the existence of life within microscopic bubbles.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will devote significant observing time to the study of exoplanets. It will not be serviceable as was the Hubble Space Telescope, and therefore the spacecraft/instruments will have a relatively limited life.

The icy moons are in the focus of the exploration plans of the leading space agencies because of the indications of water-based life and geological activity observed in a number of these objects.

Over the last several years, spectroscopic observations of transiting exoplanets have begun to uncover information about their atmospheres, including atmospheric composition and indications of the presence of clouds and hazes.

Low mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) containing neutron stars are both extremely luminous and compact, emitting up to ~10^6 L_sun within a kilometer-scale boundary layer. This combination allows for easy modulation, motivating X-ray SETI.

Final water inventories of newly formed terrestrial planets are shaped by their collision history. A setting where volatiles are transported from beyond the snowline to habitable-zone planets suggests collisions of very dry with water-rich bodies.

Context. GJ 1148 is an M-dwarf star hosting a planetary system composed of two Saturn-mass planets in eccentric orbits with periods of 41.38 and 532.02 days.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine along with the NASA Science Mission Directorate have reached consensus on the Statement of Task for the next decadal survey in planetary science and astrobiology. The Statement of Task will serve as a guiding document for the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032.

Scientists funded in part by the NASA Astrobiology program are providing new insights into how terrestrial planets are affected by coronal mass ejections (CMEs) early in the formation of a stellar system.