Campaigns to name exoplanets seem like Shakespearean farce
Astrobiology has one key advantage when it comes to tooting its own horn – it can lay claim to a diverse range of scientific research as being relevant to the study of life in the universe.
From humanity’s first, flawed foray to the surface of a comet to the celebrated discovery of (and less celebrated skepticism about) primordial gravitational waves, 2014 has brought some historic successes and failures in space science and physics.
Christopher Nolan’s new film, Interstellar, is a near-future tale of astronauts departing a dying Earth to travel to Saturn, then through a wormhole to another galaxy, all in search of somewhere else humanity could call home.
What are some of the most intriguing and unexpected puzzles about the universe?
Can we connect the microscopic and macroscopic factors involved in starting life on a planet?
Two billion year-old water pockets and a revised deep hydrogen content are good news for Earth’s vast subsurface biosphere, and could offer clues to life on Mars and much further beyond.
Astronomers use Kepler telescope to study weather on Jupiter-size planets beyond our solar system
In 1990, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft briefly looked back from its journey out of the solar system, capturing a view of the faraway Earth. Carl Sagan called it the "pale blue dot." From more than 6 billion kilometers away, beyond the orbit of Pluto, it seemed remarkable that our planet was even visible.
In a nice piece on his Scientific American blog ‘Cross-Check‘, John Horgan recently gave me some much appreciated praise, whilst provoking discussion on a contentious subject – whether or not big science as we’ve known it ‘may be coming to an end’ (John’s words).
This post is one in a series covering, and expanding on, topics in the book The Copernicus Complex (Scientific American/FSG). The conversation usually goes like this: Do you think we’re alone in the universe?
Robotic exploration of space is fascinating, complex and quite important to our understanding of the universe. To learn more about how scientists and engineers overcome challenges of robotic space exploration for successful data collection, join us for a live chat today (Tuesday, October 29) at noon EDT with Chris Impey, astronomer and author of Dreams of [...]
Although NASA’s planet hunting mission Kepler seems unlikely to return to a fully functioning state, after another reaction wheel failure, it has already yielded an extraordinary crop of new worlds.
In a month’s time, the end result of two-and-a-half years of research, thinking, writing, re-writing, re-re-writing, editing, mulling, puzzling, coffee-drinking, beer-swilling, swearing, and tweaking will hit the shelves in the form of my new book The Copernicus Complex.
Scientific discoveries across all fields just keep coming and coming. Here’s a small assortment of goodies from the past couple of weeks.
More to explore: Exoplanet colour confirmed for first time: it’s blue, but not pale — and nothing like Earth (Scientific American Blog Network) http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/b… Diamond ‘Super-Earth’ May Not be Quite as Precious (University of Arizona) http://uanews.org/story/diamond-super… Strange Exoplanet’s ‘Backwards’ Orbit Explained by Extra Star, Planet (Space.com) http://www.space.com/19421-backward-a… Astronomers Find Most Ancient Planet Yet (Scientific [...]
The "Automated Planet Finder" could make astronomers of us all
On November 14th 1971 NASA’s Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to successfully orbit another planet.
I spent some of last week at a fascinating and lively symposium on the origins of life and the search for life in the universe, held at the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
Pseudo-Earths are out there. That's the message of today's exciting announcement that a planet about the same size as Earth lives in its star's habitable zone--the temperate region around a star where liquid water might flow.