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Posts Tagged "astrobiology"

Basic Space

Could life arise around a dying star?

White dwarf star Sirius B is roughly the same size as Earth but has a mass 98% that of the sun. Credit: {link url="http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0516c/"}ESA and NASA{/link}

In five billion years the sun is going to blow up into a red giant, then collapse back down again into a white dwarf – a dying star roughly the same size as Earth itself. All of the solar system planets up to, and including, Earth will probably be vaporised during this stellar ballooning. We’ll [...]

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Guest Blog

Teaching Scientific Thinking and Encouraging Creativity with Astrobiology

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." ~Albert Einstein In 2007, a few graduate students at the National University of Colombia grew interested in astrobiology, the search for extraterrestrial [...]

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Guest Blog

Living Interplanetary Spaceflight Experiment–or Why Were All the Strange Creatures on the Shuttle Endeavour ?

This morning, the world witnessed the safe landing of the space shuttle Endeavour, after a 16-day mission to the International Space Station. For those of us inhabiting Earth’s more western time zones, we got to watch the landing last night, with no inconvenience, other than having to divert from the Colbert Report. While I did [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Copernicus in Cleveland

514px-Nikolaus_Kopernikus

What is our cosmic significance? Does it even make sense to ask a question like that? If you happen to find yourself in Cleveland, Ohio this coming Thursday evening, and stop by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History at 8pm you can catch me talking about this. As part of their Frontiers of Astronomy series [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Unstoppable Extinction And Fermi’s Paradox

Really, this is what I evolved into? (Images used: Stephen Ausmus, USDA ARS, Matt Martyniuk)

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the evidence that we are currently within a period of mass extinction, the kind of event that will show up in the fossil record a few million years from now as a clear discontinuity, a radical change in the diversity of life on the planet. This [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Rock-Eating Martian Microbes?

(Credit: White et al. 2014, NASA/JPL)

A recently published study of a 30-pound martian meteorite found in Antarctica suggests the presence of indigenous carbon-rich material, ancient water erosion, and a number of tiny structures that resemble the sort of features that we see rock-eating microbes leaving in basaltic glasses here on Earth. This rock, Yamato 000593, appears to have formed 1.3 [...]

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Life, Unbounded

So You Want To Be An Exozookeeper?

Kepler's tally of exoplanets (Credit: NASA Ames/SETI/J Rowe)

                  This week has seen the release of the latest set of ‘confirmed’ exoplanets from NASA’s Kepler mission. In total, 715 worlds have been added to the list of what are thought to be genuine Kepler planet detections (previously standing at 246). If you’re confused because you’ve [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Water Erupts Across the Solar System

Europa erupts (Credit: NASA/ESA/K. Retherford/SWRI)

Reading the scientific headlines recently one would be forgiven for thinking that we’re experiencing a bout of interplanetary gastrointestinal distress. First, Saturn’s diminutive moon Enceladus continues to spew what we think are giant sprays of salty water from gnarled creases in its southern icy surface – captured in glorious imagery by the Cassini spacecraft over [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Cosmic Solitude, Exoplanets, and Books

Credit: NASA

Earlier this week I had the very great pleasure of catching up with Lee Billings, the author of Five Billion Years of Solitude, a beautifully written and provocative new book about the quest to find other Earths, other life in the universe. If you haven’t read it, you should. The Strand Bookstore in New York [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Something’s Cooking on Mars

Drilled out martian mudstone...(Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

What do you get when you cook buried martian mudstone in your oven? The answer appears to be the kind of gases you’d expect if you cooked organic material here on Earth. A couple of weeks ago the latest results from the Curiosity rover’s investigations at Yellowknife Bay in the Gale Crater structure on Mars [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Astrobiology Roundup

mosaic.001

                      Lots of new scientific results in the past couple of weeks feed directly into the central questions of astrobiology – from the search for life, to the environment of interplanetary and interstellar space, and the grand cosmological terrain we find ourselves in. No Methane [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Maybe Mars Seeded Earth’s Life, Maybe It Didn’t

mars clip

This week a major geochemistry conference heard an argument for life on Earth having originated on Mars, but does this hold up to scrutiny? The idea that a young Mars, some four billion years ago, was a far more hospitable and temperate place is not particularly controversial – although it is certainly not understood in [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Summer Astrobiology Roundup #3: The Ripening Of The Planets

IMG_0349

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 fact, as well as finding many remarkable individual systems (from those orbiting binary stars to those laden down with planets), Kepler has provided a [...]

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Observations

Live Chat at Noon Today on Dreams of Other Worlds and NASA’s Next Mars Mission

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 [...]

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Observations

How did life begin on Earth?

LINDAU, Germany—What steps led to the origin of life on Earth? Scientists may be zeroing in on that most profound of questions. “We’ve gone a long way to showing” the processes that “set the stage” for cellular life on Earth, Jack Szostak said Tuesday here in his talk at the 60th annual Nobel Laureate Lectures [...]

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