Results tagged “Astrobiology”

ESA's Herschel space observatory has discovered enough water vapour to fill Earth's oceans more than 2000 times over, in a gas and dust cloud that is on the verge of collapsing into a new Sun-like star.

Insights From Mars-like Places on Earth

Life thrives on Planet Earth. In even the most inhospitable places -- the freezing Antarctic permafrost, Sun-baked salt pans in Tunisia or the corrosively acidic Rio Tinto in Spain -- pockets of life can be found. Some of these locations have much in common with environments found on Mars, as discovered by orbiters and rovers exploring the surface.

Astronomers have discovered a veritable rogues' gallery of odd exoplanets -- from scorching hot worlds with molten surfaces to frigid ice balls.

A team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has spotted sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star.

Astronauts dream of finding new life and for a select crew that dream might be within reach this week - albeit deep underground instead of in outer space.

Mars, Everest, and Tricorders

Ocean Optics Spectrometers Land Safely on Mars

"Three Ocean Optics instruments have completed their eight month journey to Mars to study soil composition as part of the ChemCam mission. The company's modular Jaz spectrometer scaled Mt. Everest with a team that included NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski to measure solar irradiance at extreme altitude."

Using a Tricorder on Mount Everest

"If you've ever seen a Starfleet away team beaming down to a new planet, you know that the first thing they do is whip out their tricorder and scan everything. Many of NASA's astrobiologists want one. Well, Scott and I had one at Everest."

Keith's note: I carried this cool device up to Everest Base Camp and then Scott carried it up the mountain. Its not unusual for people to trek into Everest with the latest high tech gear on display but every time I pulled this thing out people stopped to watch me go through my procedure. I took this promo photo of Scott using the Jaz unit while we were standing next to our tents at Everest Base Camp. An instant later we heard a loud noise coming from the icefall. An instant later I switched my camera from still to video and shot this video. This was one of the largest avalanches in recent seasons. Had I not been taking the PR shot of Scott and the Jaz unit I'd have missed most of this avalanche.

By some estimates, a third of Earth's organisms live in our planet's rocks and sediments, yet their lives are almost a complete mystery. This week, the work of microbiologist James Holden of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and colleagues shines a light into this dark world.

Clue to How Life Turned Left

Researchers analyzing meteorite fragments that fell on a frozen lake in Canada have developed an explanation for the origin of life's handedness - why living things only use molecules with specific orientations.

Why Is Earth So Dry?

With large swaths of oceans, rivers that snake for hundreds of miles, and behemoth glaciers near the north and south poles, Earth doesn't seem to have a water shortage. And yet, less than one percent of our planet's mass is locked up in water, and even that may have been delivered by comets and asteroids after Earth's initial formation.

Scientists have long believed that comets and a type of very primitive meteorite called carbonaceous chondrites were the sources of early Earth's volatile elements -- which include hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon -- and possibly organic material, too. Understanding where these volatiles came from is crucial for determining the origins of both water and life on the planet.

"It's a project 500 million years in the making. Only this time, instead of playing on a movie screen in Jurassic Park, it's happening in a lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action. "This is as close as we can get to rewinding and replaying the molecular tape of life," said scientist Betuel Kacar, a NASA astrobiology postdoctoral fellow in Georgia Tech's NASA Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution. "The ability to observe an ancient gene in a modern organism as it evolves within a modern cell allows us to see whether the evolutionary trajectory once taken will repeat itself or whether a life will adapt following a different path." More

A team of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

Subsurface Ocean on Titan

Data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have revealed Saturn's moon Titan likely harbors a layer of liquid water under its ice shell.

Tropical Methane Lakes on Titan

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has spied long-standing methane lakes, or puddles, in the "tropics" of Saturn's moon Titan. One of the tropical lakes appears to be about half the size of Utah's Great Salt Lake, with a depth of at least 3 feet (1 meter).

Building a terrestrial planet requires raw materials that weren't available in the early history of the universe.

A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder looking for organisms that eke out a living in some of the most inhospitable soils on Earth has found a hardy few.

In the search for Earth-like planets, it is helpful to look for clues and patterns that can help scientist narrow down the types of systems where potentially habitable planets are likely to be discovered.

A report in the May 4 edition of the journal Science details discoveries Opportunity made in its first four months at the rim of Endeavour Crater, including key findings reported at a geophysics conference in late 2011.

Recent discoveries of planets similar to Earth in size and proximity to the planets' respective suns have sparked scientific and public excitement about the possibility of also finding Earth-like life on those worlds.

January 5, 2012

I sprouted, thrust into this world without anyone consulting me. I am not one of the beautiful; I am not one that by any other name instills flutters in the human heart. I am the kind that makes little boys gag at the dinner table thus being sent to bed without their dessert. I am utilitarian, hearty vegetative matter that can thrive under harsh conditions. I am zucchini - and I am in space.

  1 2 3 4