January 2022

Deeper understanding of Earth's atmosphere could help us identify signs of life beyond our solar system

Researchers in Japan, Sweden, and the US have unearthed evidence that low volcanic temperatures led to the fourth mass extinction, enabling dinosaurs to flourish during the Jurassic period.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be able to probe the atmospheres and surface properties of hot, terrestrial planets via emission spectroscopy.

A few specialist microbes survive conditions analogous to those of Mars' early history, reports a new publication in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Science--and this may be thanks to a broad range of adaptations.

In a few years, space telescopes will investigate our Galaxy to detect evidence of life, mainly by observing rocky planets.

New research provides further evidence that rocks representing up to a billion years of geological time were carved away by ancient glaciers during the planet's "Snowball Earth" period, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Labrador Sea between Canada and Greenland is often referred to as a 'lung of the deep ocean' because it is one of only a handful of locations worldwide where oxygen from the atmosphere can enter the deepest layers of the ocean.

A collection of fossil shells from marine snails and clams is challenging a theory that says the world's deadliest mass extinction was accompanied by severe ocean acidification.

Super-Earths and sub-Neptunes have been found simultaneously in multiplanetary systems, suggesting that they are appropriate to study composition and formation within the same environment. We perform a homogeneous interior structure analysis of five multiplanetary systems to explore the compositional trends and its relation with planet formation.

The upcoming deployment of JWST will dramatically advance our ability to characterize exoplanet atmospheres, both in terms of precision and sensitivity to smaller and cooler planets.

Detection of water vapor in the atmosphere of temperate rocky exoplanets would be a major milestone on the path towards characterization of exoplanet habitability.

In the search for life in the Universe, exoplanets represent numerous natural experiments in planet formation, evolution, and the emergence of life.

As the only icy satellite with a thick atmosphere and liquids on its surface, Titan represents a unique end-member to study the impact cratering process.

The TRAPPIST-1 Habitable Atmosphere Intercomparison (THAI) project was initiated to compare 3D climate models that are commonly used for predicting theoretical climates of habitable zone extrasolar planets.

Late accretion onto the Hadean Earth included large impacts that could have influenced early habitability, either by sterilizing the planet or alternatively catalyzing the origin of life by delivering iron required to create a reducing environment/atmosphere.

Two fundamentally different processes of rocky planet formation exist, but it is unclear which one built the terrestrial planets of the solar system.

About 2.5 billion years ago, microbes learned to harness plentiful Solar energy to reduce CO2 with H2O, extracting energy and producing O2 as waste.

A Southwest Research Institute scientist set out to prove that the tiny, innermost moon of Saturn was a frozen inert satellite and instead discovered compelling evidence that Mimas has a liquid internal ocean.

About 2.4 billion years ago, Earth's atmosphere underwent what is called the Great Oxidation Event (GOE). Prior to the GOE, early Earth had far less molecular oxygen than we have today. After the GOE, molecular oxygen began to increase in abundance, eventually making life like ours possible.

Cool main-sequence stars, such as the Sun, have magnetic fields which are generated by an internal dynamo mechanism.

By drilling deep down into sediments on the ocean floor researchers can travel back in time. A research team led from Uppsala University now presents new clues as to when and why a period often referred to as the 'biogenic bloom' came to an abrupt end. Changes in the shape of the Earth's orbit around the Sun may have played a part in the dramatic change.

Topography on a wet rocky exoplanet could raise land above its sea level. Although land elevation is the product of many complex processes, the large-scale topographic features on any geodynamically-active planet are the expression of the convecting mantle beneath the surface.

Although first considered as too diluted for the formation of molecules in-situ and too harsh an environment for their survival, the interstellar medium has turned out to host a rich palette of molecular species: to date, 256 species have been identified.

The Panspermia hypothesis posits that either life's building blocks (molecular Panspermia) or life itself (organism-based Panspermia) may have been interplanetary transferred to facilitate the Origins of Life (OoL) on a given planet, complementing several current OoL frameworks.

NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012, and since then has roamed Gale Crater taking samples and sending the results back home for researchers to interpret.

Now that we know that Earth-like planets are ubiquitous in the universe, as well as that most of them are much older than the Earth, it is justified to ask to what extent evolutionary outcomes on other such planets are similar, or indeed commensurable, to the outcomes we perceive around us.

Addressing one of the most profoundly unanswered questions in biology, a Rutgers-led team has discovered the structures of proteins that may be responsible for the origins of life in the primordial soup of ancient Earth.

The history of life on Earth has been marked five times by events of mass biodiversity extinction caused by extreme natural phenomena. Today, many experts warn that a Sixth Mass Extinction crisis is underway, this time entirely caused by human activities.

Results from the Kepler mission indicate that the occurrence rate of small planets (<3 R⊕) in the habitable zone of nearby low-mass stars may be as high as 80%. Despite this abundance, probing the conditions and atmospheric properties on any habitable-zone planet is extremely difficult and has remained elusive to date.

Organic molecules found in a meteorite that hurtled to Earth from Mars were synthesized during interactions between water and rocks that occurred on the Red Planet about 4 billion years ago, according to new analysis led by Carnegie's Andrew Steele and published by Science.

For many decades vertical winds have been observed at high altitudes of the Earth's atmosphere, in the mesosphere and thermosphere layers.

Is there life on Venus? For more than a century, scientists have pondered this question. Now, there is renewed interest in Venus as a place that could support living organisms.

Florida State University researchers have new insight into the complicated puzzle of environmental conditions that characterized the Late Ordovician Mass Extinction (LOME), which killed about 85% of the species in the ocean.

After many decades of astonishing developments, advances in semiconductor-based computing are beginning to slow as transistors reach their physical limits in size and speed.

Researchers from the Early Life Traces & Evolution Laboratory (Astrobiology / Faculty of Science) at the University of Liège have discovered the first in-situ evidence of chlorophyll remnants in a billion-year-old multicellular algal microfossil preserved in shales from the Congo Basin.

Studies of future space- and ground-based exoplanet surveys often rely on models of planetary systems to simulate instrument response, estimate scientific yields, perform trade analyses, and study efficient observation strategies.

Transit spectroscopy is a powerful tool to decode the chemical composition of the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. In this paper we focus on unsupervised techniques for analyzing spectral data from transiting exoplanets.

This paper describes the Habitable Energy balance model for eXoplaneT ObseRvations (HEXTOR), which is a model for calculating latitudinal temperature profiles on Earth and other rapidly rotating planets.

The chemistry of phosphorus in star- and planet-forming regions is poorly understood, despite the central role of phosphorus in terrestrial biochemistry.

No longer solely in the realm of science fiction, the possibility of interstellar travel has appeared, tantalizingly, on the horizon.

There is more going on in the deep, dark ocean waters than you may think: Uncountable numbers of invisible microorganisms go about their daily lives in the water columns, and now researchers have discovered that some of them produce oxygen in an unexpected way.

The nuclear-spin chemistry of interstellar water is investigated using the University of Grenoble Alpes Astrochemical Network (UGAN). This network includes reactions involving the different nuclear-spin states of the hydrides of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulphur, as well as their deuterated forms.

Evidence demonstrates a close connection between the fraction of organic matter buried in sediments and changes in supernovae occurrence. This correlation is apparent during the last 3.5 billion years and in closer detail over the previous 500 million years.

Evidence arguing for a "whiff of oxygen" before the Earth's Great Oxygenation Event 2.3 billion years ago are chemical signatures that were probably introduced at a much later time, according to research published in Science Advances.

Europa's leading hemisphere chaos regions have a spectral feature at 450 nm that has been attributed to absorption by crystal defects in irradiated sodium chloride, known as F-centers.

During long portions of the past 2.4 billion years, the Earth may have been more inhospitable to life than scientists previously thought, according to new computer simulations.

The rhythms of activity in all biological organisms, both plants and animals, are closely linked to the gravitational tides created by the orbital mechanics of the Sun-Earth-Moon system.

The previously elusive methanediol molecule of importance to the organic, atmospheric science and astrochemistry communities has been synthetically produced for the first time by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers.

C-complex asteroids, rich in carbonaceous materials, are potential sources of Earth's volatile inventories.

The Breakthrough Listen Initiative, as part of its larger mission, is performing the most thorough technosignature search of nearby stars.

The basic building blocks of RNA could have been delivered by carbon-rich meteorites, or produced in situ by processes beginning with the synthesis of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) in the early Earth's atmosphere.

Reflected light photometry of terrestrial exoplanets could reveal the presence of oceans and continents, hence placing direct constraints on the current and long-term habitability of these worlds.