Archives

December 2021


The analysis of ancient DNA preserved in sediments is an emerging technology allowing for the detection of the past presence of humans and other animals at archaeological sites.

It's hard to imagine a more inhospitable world than our closest planetary neighbor.

Dale Andersen: "Merry Christmas to all from Cape Town, South Africa! My team and I returned from, Antarctica Thursday and are awaiting our next set of flights home on the 28th."

Oxygen is a constituent of many of the most abundant molecules detected in exoplanetary atmospheres and a key ingredient for tracking how and where a planet formed.

Triton is the largest moon of the Neptune system and possesses a thin nitrogen atmosphere with trace amounts of carbon monoxide and methane, making it of similar composition to that of the dwarf planet Pluto.

The physical characteristics and atmospheric chemical composition of newly discovered exoplanets are often inferred from their transit spectra which are obtained from complex numerical models of radiative transfer.

Just got this from Dale: "The IL-76 arrived yesterday in preparation for an airdrop of fuel at Halley station. Hopefully that will take place tomorrow and we will return to CPT [Cape Town, South Africa] Fri. It is snowing here (again) this morning, but we will complete packing up today and will be ready to depart Antarctica as soon as the aircraft returns to CPT."

Far beneath the ice shelves of the Antarctic, there is more marine life than expected, finds a recent study in the journal Current Biology, published this week (20 December 2021).

The atmosphere of Venus remains mysterious, with many outstanding chemical connundra. These include: the unexpected presence of ~10 ppm O2 in the cloud layers; an unknown composition of large particles in the lower cloud layers; and hard to explain measured vertical abundance profiles of SO2 and H2O.

Decades of space exploration have shown that surface environments on Mars were habitable billions of years ago.

A classification scheme for rocky planets is proposed, based on a description of the Earth System in terms of the Landau-Ginzburg Theory of phase transitions.

Sub-Neptunes (planets with radii between 2 and 4 R⊕) are abundant around M-dwarf stars, yet the atmospheric dynamics of these planets is relatively unexplored.

Scientists have proposed a new theory which suggests that possible lifeforms in the clouds of Venus could be setting off a cascade of chemical reactions that is making the environment much more habitable.

Tiny microbes belching toxic gas helped cause -- and prolong -- the biggest mass extinction in Earth's history, a new study suggests.

244Pu has been discovered in deep-ocean deposits spanning the past 10 Myr, a period that includes two 60Fe pulses from nearby supernovae.

Prebiotic molecules, fundamental building blocks for the origin of life, have been found in carbonaceous chondrites. The exogenous delivery of these organic molecules onto the Hadean Earth could have sparked the polymerization of the first RNA molecules in Darwinian ponds during wet-dry cycles.

The ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has spotted significant amounts of water at the heart of Mars' dramatic canyon system, Valles Marineris.

The genetic code of all three kingdoms of life is universal and encodes the same 20 natural amino acids for a variety of complex physiological functions.

Terrestrial planets are easier to detect around M dwarfs than other types of stars, making them promising for next-generation atmospheric characterization studies.

A clay mineral known as smectite could hold a substantial portion of the water missing from Mars, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

OneZoom is a one-stop site for exploring all life on Earth, its evolutionary history, and how much of it is threatened with extinction.

Engineers are developing the crucial hardware needed for a series of daring space missions that will be carried out in the coming decade.

How did the first chemical reactions get started at the origin of life and what was their source of energy?

Tidal dissipation is thought to be responsible for the observed high heat loss on Enceladus. Forced librations can enhance tidal dissipation in the ice shell, but how such librations affect the thermal state of Enceladus has not been investigated.

The collision history of asteroids is an important archive of inner Solar System evolution. Evidence for these collisions is brought to Earth by meteorites, which can preserve impact-reset radioisotope mineral ages.

In Titan's nitrogen-methane atmosphere, photochemistry leads to the production of complex organic particles, forming Titan's thick haze layers.

The Venus Life Finder Missions are a series of focused astrobiology mission concepts to search for habitability, signs of life, and life itself in the Venus atmosphere.

The study of thermal properties of frozen salt solutions representative of ice layers in Jovian moons is crucial to support the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) (ESA) and Europa Clipper (NASA) missions.

Phosphorus (P) is a crucial element for life given its central role in several biomolecules. P-bearing molecules have been discovered in different regions of the Milky Way, but not yet towards an extragalactic environment

Solar flares are often accompanied by filament/prominence eruptions (∼104 K and ∼1010−11 cm−3), sometimes leading to coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that directly affect the Earth's environment.

Rocky planets are common around other stars, but their atmospheric properties remain largely unconstrained. Thanks to a wealth of recent planet discoveries and upcoming advances in observing capability, we are poised to characterize the atmospheres of dozens of rocky exoplanets in this decade.

We report a model study on the effects of clouds on emission spectra of super-Venus planets. Our goal is to assess possible ways to identify characteristic spectral features due to clouds.

The Trappist-1 system contains seven roughly Earth-sized planets locked in a multi-resonant orbital configuration, which has enabled precise measurements of the planets' masses and constrained their compositions.

Clouds are an integral part of planetary atmospheres, with most planets hosting clouds. The understanding of not only the formation, but also the composition of clouds is crucial to the understanding of future observations.

We validate the planetary nature of an ultra-short period planet orbiting the M dwarf KOI-4777. We use a combination of space-based photometry from Kepler, high-precision, near-infrared Doppler spectroscopy from the Habitable-zone Planet Finder, and adaptive optics imaging to characterize this system.

Life on Earth emerged at the interface of the geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. This setting serves as our basis for how biological systems originate on rocky planets.

Tomonari Sumi, Associate Professor of Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Science, Okayama University, and Koji Harada, Associate Professor of Center for IT-Based Education, Toyohashi University of Technology, have developed a kinetic hypothesis governing the evolution of the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) based on the simulation of the carbon metabolism of ancient evolutionary microorganisms, which are similar to the LUCA.

Munich and Dresden based researchers create compelling scenario for the evolution of membraneless microdroplets as the origin of life.

Thioacetamide (CH3CSNH2) is the sulfur analog to acetamide (CH3CONH2) and it is a viable candidate to search for in astronomical environments specifically toward regions where other S-bearing molecules have been found and, if possible, that also contain a detection of CH3CONH2.

The composition of the surface of the Galilean icy moons has been debated since the Galileo mission.

We are at a unique timeline in the history of human evolution where we may be able to discover earth-like planets around stars outside our solar system where conditions can support life or even find evidence of life on those planets.

Iron is an essential nutrient that almost all life requires to grow and thrive. Iron's importance goes all the way back to the formation of the planet Earth, where the amount of iron in the Earth's rocky mantle was 'set' by the conditions under which the planet formed and went on to have major ramifications for how life developed.

Research on astronaut health and model organisms have revealed six features of spaceflight biology that guide our current understanding of fundamental molecular changes that occur during space travel.

The research collaboration between the Kennedy Space Center Space Crop Production Team and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) was featured in an article titled "Terrestrial Fungus May Be Key To Farming In Space".

The GL4HS program is a 4-week intensive summer program hosted by NASA Ames Research Center and funded by NASA's Space Biology program.

Temperate terrestrial exoplanets are likely common objects, but their discovery and characterization is very challenging.

Mold is something that most people try to avoid, but NASA may soon welcome a certain type of mold aboard its spacecraft.

Scientists supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Program have presented a new perspective on the biochemistry and ecology of hydrothermal vent ecosystems.

Samples of Bacillus pumilus SAFR-032, an endospore-forming bacterial strain, were externally mounted on ISS in the EXPOSE facility and with full UV exposure.

Message from Dale Andersen on 4 Dec 2021 at 4:23 am ET "I'm starting my trip. Follow along at my MapShare site! Heading to lakeObersee for the day." Update a4 4 Dec 2021 at 9:47 am ET: 'Back "home" '

As an all-sky survey, NASA's TESS mission is able to detect the brightest and rarest types of transiting planetary systems, including young planets that enable study of the evolutionary processes that occur within the first billion years.

Scientists at the University of Southampton have discovered that two intense periods of volcanism triggered a period of global cooling and falling oxygen levels in the oceans, which caused one of the most severe mass extinctions in Earth history.

The initial reports of the presence of phosphine in the cloud decks of Venus has led to the suggestion that volcanism was the source of phosphine, through volcanic phosphides ejected into the clouds.

Mars exploration motivates the search for extraterrestrial life, the development of space technologies, and the design of human missions and habitations.

We present Breakthrough Listen's "Exotica" Catalog as the centerpiece of our efforts to expand the diversity of targets surveyed in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

In 2005, images of a brilliant watery plume erupting from the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus captivated the world.

When people and equipment travel to the International Space Station, microbes like bacteria and fungi also come along for the ride.

On 22 May 2019, scientists from Queen's University boarded a modified Falcon 20 aircraft at Ottawa airport. Scheduled was a 'vomit comet' flight, where the plane repeatedly climbs to 8km in a steep parabola, alternating with a descent in freefall.

Water vapor geysers on Europa have been inferred from observations made by the Galileo spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Keck Observatory.

As part of a team of collaborators from Northern Arizona University and Johns Hopkins University, NAU PhD candidate Ari Koeppel recently discovered that water was once present in a region of Mars called Arabia Terra.

All land plants originated from a single evolutionary event when freshwater algae got a foothold on land, giving rise to an astonishing biodiversity of plants on earth.