Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Prospects for Life on Temperate Planets Around Brown Dwarfs

Prospects for Life on Temperate Planets Around Brown Dwarfs

There is growing evidence that brown dwarfs may be comparable to main-sequence stars in terms of their abundance. In this paper, we explore the prospects for the existence of life on Earth-like planets around brown dwarfs.

Enceladus

'Snow-Cannon' Enceladus Shines Up Saturn's Super-Reflective Moons

'Snow-Cannon' Enceladus Shines Up Saturn's Super-Reflective Moons

Radar observations of Saturn's moons, Mimas, Enceladus and Tethys, show that Enceladus is acting as a 'snow-cannon,' coating itself and its neighbours with fresh water-ice particles to make them dazzlingly reflective.

Impact events

Gigantic Asteroid Collision Boosted Biodiversity On Earth

Gigantic Asteroid Collision Boosted Biodiversity On Earth

An international study led by researchers from Lund University in Sweden has found that a collision in the asteroid belt 470 million years ago created drastic changes to life on Earth.

Astrochemistry

Obtaining a History of the Flux of Cosmic Rays using In Situ Cosmogenic 14C Trapped in Polar Ice

Obtaining a History of the Flux of Cosmic Rays using In Situ Cosmogenic 14C Trapped in Polar Ice

Carbon-14 (14C) is produced in the atmosphere when neutrons from cosmic-ray air showers are captured by 14N nuclei. Atmospheric 14C becomes trapped in air bubbles in polar ice as compacted snow (firn) transforms into ice.

Mars

NASA is Testing a Drill to Search for Life on Mars - On Its Own

NASA is Testing a Drill to Search for Life on Mars - On Its Own

NASA has barely scratched the surface of Mars - literally. While past rovers have dug inches into the rusty soils of the Red Planet, NASA is testing out a drill that can go feet deep and operate autonomously with minimal human guidance.

Extrasolar Planets

A Virtual Planet Simulator for Modeling Distant Worlds Across Time

A Virtual Planet Simulator for Modeling Distant Worlds Across Time

University of Washington astrobiologist Rory Barnes has created software that simulates multiple aspects of planetary evolution across billions of years, with an eye toward finding and studying potentially habitable worlds.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Simultaneous Optical Transmission Spectroscopy of a Terrestrial, Habitable-Zone Exoplanet with Two Ground-Based Multi-Object Spectrographs

Simultaneous Optical Transmission Spectroscopy of a Terrestrial, Habitable-Zone Exoplanet with Two Ground-Based Multi-Object Spectrographs

Investigating the atmospheres of rocky exoplanets is key to performing comparative planetology between such worlds and the terrestrial planets that reside in the inner Solar System.

Oceanic Research

Hunting for Alien Life at the Bottom of the Arctic Ocean

Hunting for Alien Life at the Bottom of the Arctic Ocean

A team of oceanographers are heading out on a voyage of discovery this month, exploring in detail for the first time a hydrothermal vent field in the Arctic Ocean.

Origin & Evolution of Life

Mixing RNA and DNA To Study How Life Began

Mixing RNA and DNA To Study How Life Began

For decades, chemists have tested theories for how life began on Earth. One hypothesis has caught the scientific imagination for years: RNA World.

Astrochemistry

Astrochemistry: Discoveries to Inform the Chemical Sciences and Engineering Communities = Proceedings of a Workshop-in Brief

Astrochemistry: Discoveries to Inform the Chemical Sciences and Engineering Communities = Proceedings of a Workshop-in Brief

Throughout much of human history, space was thought to be a void in which only ions or radicals existed. It was only in the last half of the 20th century that scientists began to discover the existence of molecules, such as ammonia, in space.

Extrasolar Planets

Energy Budgets for Terrestrial Extrasolar Planets

Energy Budgets for Terrestrial Extrasolar Planets

The pathways through which incoming energy is distributed between the surface and atmosphere has been analyzed for the Earth. However, the effect of the spectral energy distribution of a host star on the energy budget of an orbiting planet may be significant given the wavelength-dependent absorption properties of atmospheric CO2 and water vapor, and surface ice and snow.

More top stories from September.