Archives

November 2020


Quantum chemical cluster calculations show that reactions of C+ with HCN or HNC embedded in the surface of an icy grain mantle can account for the formation of a recently detected molecule, glycolonitrile, which is considered to be an important precursor to ribonucleic compounds.

Protocell compartments used as models for an important step in the early evolution of life on Earth can be made from short polymers.

Two teams of scientists have resolved a longstanding controversy surrounding the origins of complex life on Earth.

In their Letter, Tsiaras et al.1 reported the detection of water vapour in the atmosphere of K2-18 b, an exoplanet of 7 to 10 Earth masses located in the habitable zone of an M-dwarf star.

Past as Prologue - When asked what the future holds for humans in space, it's tempting to recall the plots of favorite science-fiction films. Often, they involve astronauts, rockets, and intergalactic conflict--rarely do they explore the essential "behind-the-scenes" science that enables space exploration.

Laboratory astrochemistry aims at simulating in the laboratory some of the chemical and physical processes that operate in different regions of the Universe.

Terrestrial exoplanets orbiting within or near their host stars' habitable zone are potentially apt for life. It has been proposed that time-series measurements of reflected starlight from such planets will reveal their rotational period, main surface features and some atmospheric information.

Radish plants are pictured growing inside the Columbus laboratory module's Plant Habitat-02. NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins harvested leaves from the plants for the space botany experiment that is exploring the capability for food production in microgravity.

Discovering too much money in your bank account may not be what you would call a "crisis," but it would still be unexpected and you should figure out how it got there. Astronomers find themselves in a similar position when calculating the amount of dust galaxies should have; there is more dust than expected, and they don't know where it's coming from.

Atmospheric characterisation of temperate, rocky planets is the holy grail of exoplanet studies. These worlds are at the limits of our capabilities with current instrumentation in transmission spectroscopy and challenge our state-of-the-art statistical techniques.

We present simulations of the capabilities of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and of a Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) to detect and resolve substructures due to terrestrial planets and Super-Earths in nearby planet-forming disks.

The hypothesis that one or more biodiversity drops in the Phanerozoic eon, evident in the geological record, might have been caused by the most powerful kind of stellar explosion so far known Gamma Ray Bursts (GRB) has been discussed in several works.

Context. Near- and mid-infrared observations have revealed the presence of organic refractory materials in the solar system, in cometary nuclei and on the surface of centaurs, Kuiper-belt and trans-neptunian objects.

An international team of scientists have shown that glycine, the simplest amino acid and an important building block of life, can form under the harsh conditions that govern chemistry in space.

We first respond to two points raised by Villanueva et al. We show the JCMT discovery spectrum of PH3 can not be re-attributed to SO2, as the line width is larger than observed for SO2 features, and the required abundance would be an extreme outlier.

Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) was an dynamically new Oort cloud comet whose apparition presented a favorable geometry for observations near close Earth approach (~0.93au) at heliocentric distances ~2au when insolation and sublimation of volatiles drive maximum activity.

Mars once had oceans but is now bone-dry, leaving many to wonder how the water was lost. University of Arizona researchers have discovered a surprisingly large amount of water in the upper atmosphere of Mars, where it is rapidly destroyed, explaining part of this Martian mystery.

The detection of the amino acid glycine and its amine precursor methylamine on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the Rosetta mission provides strong evidence for a cosmic origin of prebiotics on Earth.

Microbiology professor Jim Holden, a researcher in the School of Earth and Sustainability, recently received a three-year, $441,219 grant from NASA's Exobiology Program to study competition between different types of thermophilic, or heat-loving, microbes that live in deep-sea volcanoes called hydrothermal vents.

Nitrogen is a biosignature gas that cannot be maintained in its Earth-like ratio with CO2 under abiotic conditions. It has also proven to be notoriously hard to detect at optical and infrared wavelengths.

Volcanic activity on Mars peaked during the Noachian and Hesperian periods but has continued since then in isolated locales. Elysium Planitia hosts numerous young, fissure-fed flood lavas with ages ranging from approximately 500 to 2.5 million years (Ma).

The amount of long-lived radioactive elements incorporated into a rocky planet as it forms may be a crucial factor in determining its future habitability, according to a new study by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at UC Santa Cruz.

On Jupiter's icy moon Europa, powerful eruptions may spew into space, raising questions among hopeful astrobiologists on Earth: What would blast out from miles-high plumes?

Massive explosions of energy happening thousands of light-years from Earth may have left traces in our planet's biology and geology, according to new research by University of Colorado Boulder geoscientist Robert Brakenridge.

On 13 November Moa Persson, Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) and UmeƄ University, will defend her doctoral thesis. Her thesis shows that only a small part of the historical water content on Venus has been lost to space over the past 4 billion years. This is much less than researchers previously thought.

In the broadest sense, the primary goal of exoplanet demographic surveys is to determine the frequency and distribution of planets as a function of as many of the physical parameters that may influence planet formation and evolution as possible, over as broad of a range of these parameters as possible.

Dear Colleagues, For all of us, for many reasons, 2020 has been a tough year and its impacts will be felt in many ways in 2021 and beyond. I am writing to inform you of some changes planned for the Astrobiology Program in Fiscal Year 2021 to meet the continuing challenges.

Mars Sample Return (MSR) is a highly complex and ambitious program of national importance. As noted by the MSR Independent Review Board (IRB), it is one of the most technically difficult and operationally demanding robotic space missions ever undertaken.

In a new study researchers, led by Research Scientist Dimitra Atri of the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), identified which stars were most likely to host habitable exoplanets based on the calculated erosion rates of the planetary atmospheres.

When and how did the first animals appear? Science has long sought an answer.

The emergence of life is a mystery. Nevertheless, researchers agree that water is a precondition for life. The first cell emerged in water and then evolved to form multicellular organism. The oldest known single-cell organism on Earth is about 3.5 billion years old.

Variations in the reflective properties of the bulk material that comprises the surface of land-dominated planets will affect the planetary energy balance by interacting differently with incident radiation from the host star.

The NASA Astrobiology Program announces the selection of eight new interdisciplinary research teams today, inaugurating its Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research (ICAR) program.

Today, we know ~4330 exoplanets orbiting their host stars in ~3200 planetary systems. The diversity of these exoplanets is large, and none of the known exoplanets is a twin to any of the solar system planets, nor is any of the known extrasolar planetary systems a twin of the solar system.

Earth's most arid desert may hold a key to finding life on Mars.

Since the dawn of space exploration, humankind has been fascinated by survival of terrestrial life in outer space. Outer space is a hostile environment for any form of life, but some extraordinarily resistant microorganisms can survive.

One of the most promising avenues for the detailed study of temperate Earth-sized exoplanets is the detection of such planets in transit in front of stars small and nearby enough to make possible their thorough atmospheric characterisation with next generation telescopes like the James Webb Space telescope (JWST) or Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

Complex organic molecules (COMs) have been detected in a variety of interstellar sources.

We report the latest statistical analyses of superflares on solar-type (G-type main-sequence; effective temperature is 5100 -- 6000 K) stars using all of the Kepler primary mission data, and Gaia-DR2 (Data Release 2) catalog.

A central need in the field of astrobiology is generalized perspectives on life that make it possible to differentiate abiotic and biotic chemical systems. A key component of many past and future astrobiological measurements is the elemental ratio of various samples.

We have identified methyl isocyanate (CH3NCO), a precursor of prebiotic molecules, towards the source. G31.41+0.31 is a well known chemically rich hot molecular core (HMC). Using Band 3 observations of Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), we have analyzed the chemical and physical properties of the source.

We report the discovery of a Neptune-like planet (LP 714-47 b, P = 4.05204 d, m_b = 30.8 +/- 1.5 M_earth , R_b = 4.7 +/- 0.3 R_earth ) located in the 'hot Neptune desert'.

Due to unfavorable launch conditions, AbSciCon 2021 is scrubbed but is A GO for 2022. The Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) brings the astrobiology community together every two years to share research, collaborate, and plan for the future. The conference will now be held 15-20 May 2022 and will remain in Atlanta, GA, USA, at the Hilton Atlanta.

Recently published space-based observations of main-belt asteroids with the AKARI telescope provide a full description of the 3 um band, related to the presence of OH bearing minerals.

There's a long-standing question in planetary science about the origin of water on Earth, Mars and other large bodies such as the moon.

A new study reveals that the Chicxulub impact crater and its hydrothermal system hosted a subterranean ecosystem that could provide a glimpse of Earth's primordial life.

Planets orbiting close to the most abundant and longest-lasting stars in our Milky Way may be less hospitable to life than previously thought.