Astrobiology Magazine: Latest News
13 Nov 2016

Astrobiology Magazine: Latest News

  • Earth-bound instrument analyzes light from planets circling distant stars
    Sat, 12 Nov 2016 12:00:13 +0000
    Researchers successfully operated a new instrument, the CHARIS spectrograph, which allows them to make detailed observations of planets orbiting distant stars.
  • NASA Space Telescopes Pinpoint Elusive Brown Dwarf
    Fri, 11 Nov 2016 12:00:25 +0000
    In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, NASA’s Spitzer and Swift space telescopes joined forces to observe a microlensing event, when a distant star brightens due to the gravitational field of at least one foreground cosmic object. This technique is useful for finding low-mass bodies orbiting stars, such as planets. In this case, the observations revealed a brown dwarf. Brown dwarfs are thought to be the missing link between planets and stars, with masses up to 80 times that of Jupiter. But their centers are not hot or dense enough to generate energy through nuclear fusion the way stars do. Curiously, scientists have found that, for stars roughly the mass of our sun, less than 1 percent have a brown dwarf orbiting within 3 AU (1 AU is the distance between Earth and the sun). This phenomenon is called the “brown dwarf desert.” The newly discovered brown dwarf, which orbits a host star, may inhabit this desert. Spitzer and Swift observed the microlensing event after being tipped off by ground-based microlensing surveys, including the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE). The discovery of this brown dwarf, with the unwieldy name OGLE-2015-BLG-1319, marks the first time two space telescopes have collaborated to observe a microlensing […]
  • Greenland fossils reveal global ecosystem recovery after mass extinction
    Thu, 10 Nov 2016 10:00:32 +0000
    A new study shows how higher latitude ecosystems recovered after the world's most cataclysmic extinction event 252 million years ago.
  • Scientists probe underground depths of Earth’s carbon cycle
    Wed, 09 Nov 2016 17:00:05 +0000
    Understanding how carbon dissolves in water at the molecular level under extreme conditions is critical to understanding the Earth’s deep carbon cycle—a process that ultimately influences global climate change.
  • Life took hold on land 300 million years earlier than thought
    Tue, 08 Nov 2016 10:00:31 +0000
    Life took hold on land at least as early as 3.2 billion years ago, according to a new study published in the journal Geology.
  • Giant Radio Telescope Turns to New-Found Nearby Planet
    Mon, 07 Nov 2016 17:00:24 +0000
    Breakthrough Listen, the 10-year, $100-million astronomical search for intelligent life beyond Earth launched in 2015, today announced its first observations using the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.
  • A Record of Ancient Tectonic Stress on Mars
    Mon, 07 Nov 2016 08:00:57 +0000
    Sets of ridges and troughs some 1000 km north of the giant Olympus Mons volcano contain a record of the intense tectonic stresses and strains experienced in the Acheron Fossae region on Mars 3.7–3.9 billion years ago.
  • Watching Summer Clouds on Titan
    Sun, 06 Nov 2016 12:51:26 +0000
    NASA's Cassini spacecraft watched clouds of methane moving across the far northern regions of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, on Oct. 29 and 30, 2016.
  • Curiosity Mars Rover Checks Odd-looking Iron Meteorite
    Sat, 05 Nov 2016 08:00:09 +0000
    Laser-zapping of a globular, golf-ball-size object on Mars by NASA's Curiosity rover confirms that it is an iron-nickel meteorite fallen from the Red Planet's sky.
  • Studying how the first biomolecule self-replicated
    Fri, 04 Nov 2016 12:00:13 +0000
    It’s the ultimate chicken-or-egg conundrum: What was the “mother” molecule that led to the formation of life? And how did it replicate itself?
  • Unusual Martian Region Leaves Clues to Planet’s Past
    Thu, 03 Nov 2016 12:00:02 +0000
    Researcher Don Hood from LSU and colleagues at collaborating universities studied an unusual region on Mars — an area with high elevation called Thaumasia Planum.
  • New Instrument Could Search for Signatures of Life on Mars
    Wed, 02 Nov 2016 12:00:30 +0000
    A sensing technique that the U.S. military currently uses to remotely monitor the air to detect potentially life-threatening chemicals, toxins, pathogens has inspired a new instrument that could “sniff” for life on Mars.
  • Iron-Loving Bacteria a Model For Mars Life
    Mon, 24 Oct 2016 16:00:04 +0000
    This bacteria lives a mile underground in briny, anoxic habitat.
  • Cloudy Nights, Sunny Days on Distant Hot Jupiters
    Sun, 23 Oct 2016 16:00:54 +0000
    The weather forecast for faraway, blistering planets called "hot Jupiters" might go something like this: Cloudy nights and sunny days, with a high of 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • NASA’s MAVEN Mission Observes Ups and Downs of Water Escape from Mars
    Sat, 22 Oct 2016 16:00:33 +0000
    After investigating the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet for a full Martian year, NASA’s MAVEN mission has determined that the escaping water does not always go gently into space.
  • New Horizons: Possible Clouds on Pluto, Next Target is Reddish
    Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:00:39 +0000
    The next target for NASA’s New Horizons mission – which made a historic flight past Pluto in July 2015 –– apparently bears a colorful resemblance to its famous, main destination.
  • Curious Tilt of the Sun Traced to Undiscovered Planet
    Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:00:43 +0000
    Planet Nine—the undiscovered planet at the edge of the Solar System that was predicted in January 2016—appears to be responsible for the unusual tilt of the sun, according to a new study.
  • Astro Update: Welcome to Mars, TGO!
    Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:07 +0000
    The European Space Agency and Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency, celebrated as their joint satellite ExoMars with its Trace Gas Explorer (TGO) slid into orbit around the red planet.
  • NASA's MAVEN Mission Gives Unprecedented Ultraviolet View of Mars
    Wed, 19 Oct 2016 12:00:38 +0000
    New global images of Mars from the MAVEN mission show the ultraviolet glow from the Martian atmosphere in unprecedented detail, revealing dynamic, previously invisible behavior.
  • Astro Update: Rosetta’s Comet
    Tue, 18 Oct 2016 12:26:50 +0000
    Comets are travellers in time as well as space. Coming to us from the very beginning of our Solar System, their dark bodies brighten as they approach the Sun, offering us an unparalleled window into our ancient chemical origins.