Archives

September 2021


New data analysis has found that the sunlight filtering through Venus' clouds could support Earth-like photosynthesis in the cloud layers and that chemical conditions are potentially amenable to the growth of microorganisms.

Scientists have long debated how much molecular oxygen was in Earth's early atmosphere. About 2.4 billion years ago, there was a rise in oxygen that transformed Earth's atmosphere and biosphere, eventually making life like ours possible.

Some time in Earth's early history, the planet took a turn toward habitability when a group of enterprising microbes known as cyanobacteria evolved oxygenic photosynthesis -- the ability to turn light and water into energy, releasing oxygen in the process.

When the world's most powerful telescope launches into space this year, scientists will learn whether Earth-sized planets in our 'solar neighborhood' have a key prerequisite for life -- an atmosphere.

To date, 240 individual molecular species, comprised of 19 different elements, have been detected in the interstellar and circumstellar medium by astronomical observations.

A team of scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and from the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature (STM) has isolated exquisitely preserved cartilage cells in a 125-million-year-old dinosaur from Northeast China that contain nuclei with remnants of organic molecules and chromatin.

The rise of dinosaurs coincided with environmental changes driven by major volcanic eruptions over 230 million years ago, a new study reveals.

All circumbinary planets currently detected are in orbits that are almost coplanar to the binary orbit.

Direct imaging of widely separated exoplanets from space will obtain their reflected light spectra and measure their atmospheric properties, and small and temperate planets will be the focus of the next generation telescopes.

The Galileo Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (NIMS) collected spectra of Europa in the 0.7-5.2 μm wavelength region, which have been critical to improving our understanding of the surface composition of this moon.

TRAPPIST-1 is an 0.09 M⊙ star, which harbours a system of seven Earth-sized planets. Two main features stand out: (i) all planets have similar radii, masses, and compositions; and (ii) all planets are in resonance.

With the commissioning of powerful, new-generation telescopes such as the JWST and the ELTs, the first characterization of a high molecular weight atmosphere around a temperate rocky exoplanet is imminent.

To identify promising exoplanets for atmospheric characterization and to make the best use of observational data, a thorough understanding of their atmospheres is needed.

The TRAPPIST-1 Habitable Atmosphere Intercomparison (THAI) is a community project that aims to quantify how dfferences in general circulation models (GCMs) could impact the climate prediction for TRAPPIST-1e and, subsequently its atmospheric characterization in transit.

Water is a hot topic in the study of exoplanets, including "hot Jupiters," whose masses are similar to that of Jupiter, but which are much closer to their parent star than Jupiter is to the sun.

Thomas Pesquet: It's time for lunch, water bears! I took my turn feeding the tardigrades. Fun fact: they have a two-week reproduction cycle, so we are now hosting three generations of them! A whole family tree of space-borne tardigrades!

A study published in the journal Geology rules out that extreme volcanic episodes had any influence on the massive extinction of species in the late Cretaceous.

Water is essential for life on Earth and other planets, and scientists have found ample evidence of water in Mars' early history.

Exoplanet detection in the past decade by efforts including NASA's Kepler and TESS missions has discovered many worlds that differ substantially from planets in our own Solar System, including more than 150 exoplanets orbiting binary or multi-star systems.

Little is known about the early evolution of Venus and a potential habitable period during the first one billion years. In particular, it remains unclear whether or not plate tectonics and an active carbonate-silicate cycle were present.

Several recent works have proposed "stellar relay" transmission systems in which a spacecraft at the focus of a star's gravitational lens achieves dramatic boosts in the gain of an outgoing or incoming interstellar transmission.

We study the process of panspermia in Milky Way-like galaxies by modeling the probability of successful travel of organic compounds between stars harboring potentially habitable planets.

Astronomers have mapped out the chemicals inside of planetary nurseries in extraordinary detail.

Exoplanets orbiting M-dwarfs within habitable zones are exposed to stellar environments more extreme than that terrestrial planets experience in our Solar System, which can significantly impact the atmospheres of the exoplanets and affect their habitability and sustainability.

Small organic molecules, such as C2H, HCN, and H2CO, are tracers of the C, N, and O budget in protoplanetary disks.

Interstellar signals might be intermittent for many reasons, such as targeted sequential transmissions, or isotropic broadcasts that are not on continuously, or many other reasons.

We investigate modons on tidally synchronised extrasolar planets. Modons are highly dynamic, coherent flow structures composed of a pair of storms with opposite signs of vorticity.

The precursors to larger, biologically-relevant molecules are detected throughout interstellar space, but determining the presence and properties of these molecules during planet formation requires observations of protoplanetary disks at high angular resolution and sensitivity

NASA announces the award of 10 grants or cooperative agreements for exciting new Space Biology research that will advance NASA's understanding of how living systems respond, acclimate, and adapt to the space environment in support of human space exploration.

Many scientists consider the "Cambrian explosion" -- which occurred about 530-540 million years ago -- as the first major appearance of many of the world's animal groups in the fossil record.

Researchers supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Program have experimentally tested a method that could aid in the search for life... including life as we don't know it.

Despite their importance for determining the evolution of the Earth's atmosphere and surface conditions, the evolutionary histories of the Earth's atmospheric CO2 abundance during the Archean eon and the Sun's activity are poorly constrained.

A profound shift in the study of cosmology came with the discovery of thousands of exoplanets and the possibility of the existence of billions of them in our Galaxy. The biggest goal in these searches is whether there are other life-harbouring planets.

The COgITOR project is aimed at formulating a new concept of artificial cybernetic system, taking its name from Descartes's maxim "Cogito, ergo sum" and drawing inspiration from the new frontier of robotics that aims to reduce, if not completely cancel, system rigidity.

For centuries, humans have mined materials to build the tools we use every day, from batteries and cell phones to airplanes and refrigerators. While the process of obtaining these important minerals used to rely entirely on heavy machinery, fire, and human labor, scientists have learned how to harness the natural power of microbes to do some of the work.

A hair-like protein hidden inside bacteria serves as a sort of on-off switch for nature's "electric grid," a global web of bacteria-generated nanowires that permeates all oxygen-less soil and deep ocean beds, Yale researchers report in the journal Nature.