Astrobiology

A New Mantra: Follow the Methane — May Advance Search for Extraterrestrial Life

by Shannon Hall June 20, 2014

The search for life is largely limited to the search for water. We look for exoplanets at the correct distances from their stars for water to flow freely on their surfaces, and even scan radiofrequencies in the “water hole” between the 1,420 MHz emission line of neutral hydrogen and the 1,666 MHz hydroxyl line. When […]

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Cassini Spacecraft Confirms Subsurface Ocean on Enceladus

by Nancy Atkinson April 3, 2014

Ever since the Cassini spacecraft first spied water vapor and ice spewing from fractures in Enceladus’ frozen surface in 2005, scientists have hypothesized that a large reservoir of water lies beneath that icy surface, possibly fueling the plumes. Now, gravity measurements gathered by Cassini have confirmed that this enticing moon of Saturn does in fact […]

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New Technique Could Measure Exoplanet Atmospheric Pressure, an Indicator of Habitability

by Shannon Hall March 6, 2014

Measuring the atmospheric pressure of a distant exoplanet may seem like a daunting task but astronomers at the University of Washington have now developed a new technique to do just that. When exoplanet discoveries first started rolling in, astronomers laid emphasis in finding planets within the habitable zone — the band around a star where […]

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Martian Meteorite Could Have Contained Ancient Water And Life, NASA Paper Says

by Elizabeth Howell February 28, 2014

Could this meteorite show evidence of ancient water and life on Mars? That’s one possibility raised in a new paper led by NASA and including members of a team who made a contentious claim about Martian microfossils in another meteorite 18 years ago. “This is no smoking gun,” stated lead author Lauren White, who is based […]

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High Potential for Life Circling Alpha Centauri B, our Nearest Neighbor

by Shannon Hall February 5, 2014

While exoplanets make the news on an almost daily basis, one of the biggest announcements occurred in 2012 when astronomers claimed the discovery of an Earth-like planet circling our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri B, a mere 4.3 light-years away. That’s almost close enough to touch. Of course such a discovery has led to a heated […]

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