New class of exoplanet could put search for ET into hyper-drive

Astronomers have identified a new class of exoplanet they believe could be a candidate for the search for extra-terrestrial life, according to a new study in The Astrophysical Journal. Traditionally, the search for extra-terrestrial life has focused on the terrestrial: looking for other “Earths” with similar dimensions and conditions. The planets in question, however, dubbed … Continue reading New class of exoplanet could put search for ET into hyper-drive

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Methane on Enceladus might hint at alien life In the vast ocean beneath the icy crust of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, a mysterious process is churning out methane – and it could be a sign that life teems in the subsurface world, according to a new study in Nature Astronomy. In 2005, the Cassini spacecraft discovered … Continue reading You may have missed…

Mining with microbes in space

The first mining experiments in space have revealed that microbes can efficiently extract elements from rocks in zero gravity. The tests, performed by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS), open up possibilities for the human exploration and settlement of the Solar System. “On Earth, microorganisms play prominent roles in natural processes such as the … Continue reading Mining with microbes in space

Bayesian statistics and the hunt for ET

One of the goals of the next generation of giant telescopes, now rapidly nearing completion, is to scour the nearby heavens for stars whose planets show signs of life. If they find even a single such a world, Amedeo Balbi of the University of Rome Tor Vergata and Claudio Grimaldi of the Swiss Federal Institute … Continue reading Bayesian statistics and the hunt for ET

Is anybody down there?

The question of whether or not we are alone in the Universe has always fascinated me, but when I was a student the idea of searching for aliens was regarded as decidedly crackpot. One might as well have professed an interest in looking for fairies. The prevailing scientific opinion in the 1970s was well captured … Continue reading Is anybody down there?

Bacteria found in solid rock

Japanese researchers say they have found single-celled creatures living in tiny cracks inside volcanic rocks taken from deep beneath the seafloor. They admit to being lucky and surprised, despite what they say was a decade of trial and error. And success has left them somewhat visionary, suggesting this may inspire a new search for life … Continue reading Bacteria found in solid rock

SunRISE to learn more about the Sun

NASA has selected the mission that will study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms – known as solar particle storms – into planetary space.  SunRISE (the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment), which will be led by University of Michigan (UM) in Ann Arbor and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, … Continue reading SunRISE to learn more about the Sun

Ancient water reservoirs inside Mars

Mars’s mantle may contain multiple distinct reservoirs of mineral-bound water preserved from the planet’s early history, according to a new study. Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, researchers from the US, the UK and Germany say their findings suggest the mantle has a diverse chemical composition and might not have been formed from a global magma … Continue reading Ancient water reservoirs inside Mars

The simple protein that started all life

Scientists believe they have discovered a simple protein that started all life 3.5 to 2.5 billion years ago, publishing their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We think we have found the building blocks of life – the Lego set that led, ultimately, to the evolution of cells, animals and plants,” says senior … Continue reading The simple protein that started all life