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Life, Unbounded

Life, Unbounded

Discussion and news about planets, exoplanets, and astrobiology

That Comet? That's You, 4.5 Billion Years Ago

As the European Space Agency’s Philae lander bounced and settled onto the surface of comet 67P/C-G’s crumbly nucleus it wasn’t just space exploration, it was time travel.

November 13, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

The Surreal Task of Landing on a Comet

On November 12th 2014 the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission will eject the small robotic lander Philae on a trajectory that should take it down to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (or 67P/C-P for short).

November 4, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Failure to Launch Is Always An Option

Do not try this at home. A Russian Proton-M launch goes wrong – and it can happen to anyone (wait for the shock wave). A rocket is a controlled bomb.

October 29, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Complex Life Owes Its Existence To Parasites?

Is complex life rare in the cosmos? The idea that it could be rests on the observation that the existence of life like us – with large, energy hungry, complicated cells – may be contingent on a number of very specific and unlikely factors in the history of the Earth.

October 24, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Recent Lunar Discoveries Reveal a "New Moon"

Think you know about the Moon? I did, but then I started reading ‘The New Moon: Water, Exploration, and Future Habitation‘ (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and realized that my knowledge amounted to a teensy scrap of lunar dust.

October 21, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Deep Space, Branching Molecules, and Life’s Origins?

If biologically important organic molecules like amino acids could form in interstellar space, the implications would be enormous. On the Earth we find plenty of amino acid species inside certain types of meteorites, so at a minimum these compounds can form during the assembly of a proto-stellar, proto-planetary system (at least this one) and end [...]

September 30, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Two New Arrivals Send Back Pictures Of Mars

The skies of Mars just got a little more crowded. On September 21st, 2014 NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) fired its engines for some 33 minutes in order to swing into a safe orbit.

September 26, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf
C-SPAN’s ‘After Words’ Discusses Our Cosmic Status

C-SPAN’s ‘After Words’ Discusses Our Cosmic Status

Ever feel that broadcast TV fails to tackle the big issues? I don’t mean the state of the economy, healthcare, the future of clean energy, or what B-list celebrities had for breakfast – I mean the Really Big Issues.

September 23, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf
The Biggest Cosmological Problem Is…

The Biggest Cosmological Problem Is…

…living in a place that makes doing cosmology hard. Let’s backtrack a little. Unless you’ve been living under a particularly thick and insulating rock you’ll know that in recent months the world of experimental cosmology (what would have previously been called observational cosmology, or just plain old astronomy) has been on tenterhooks waiting to see [...]

September 22, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

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