New technologies utilizing material found in space are constantly popping up, sometimes from smaller companies and sometimes from larger ones. Back in 2020, one of the largest companies of them all announced a technology that could have significant implications for the future lunar exploration missions planned over the next ten years. The European aerospace giant Airbus developed the Regolith to OXYgen and Metals Conversion (ROXY) system.Continue reading “Airbus Developed a System To Extract Oxygen and Metal From Lunar Regolith”
Finding oxygen in an exoplanet’s atmosphere is a clue that life may be at work. On Earth, photosynthetic organisms absorb carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water and produce sugars and starches for energy. Oxygen is the byproduct of that process, so if we can detect oxygen elsewhere, it’ll generate excitement. But researchers have also put pressure on the idea that oxygen in an exoplanet’s atmosphere indicates life. It’s only evidence of life if we can rule out other pathways that created the oxygen.
But scientists can’t rule them out.Continue reading “Scientists Discover a New Way Exoplanets Could Make Oxygen; Unfortunately, it Doesn’t Require Life”
Jupiter’s moon Europa is a prime candidate in the search for life. The frozen moon has a subsurface ocean, and evidence indicates it’s warm, salty, and rich in life-enabling chemistry.
New research shows that the moon is pulling oxygen down below its icy shell, where it could be feeding simple life.Continue reading “Europa Could be Pulling Oxygen Down Below the Ice to Feed Life”
Viking’s biochemistry experiments have been among the most hotly debated scientific results of all time. The lander famously collected samples from the Red Planet in 1976, in an experiment called “Label Release.” Scientists watched with bated breath as oxygen was released from the sample after it was subjected to a liquid slurry. They were then left scratching their heads as that oxygen production continued after the sample was sterilized via 160 degree C heat. Scientists now really agree that the oxygen production that Viking noticed was an abiotic process. But that also leads to a potential opportunity as some scientists think we can make oxygen farms out of a system similar to that used on Viking itself.Continue reading “Future Mars Explorers Could be Farming Oxygen From Landscapes Like This”
In situ resource utilization (ISRU) is still a very early science. Therefore, the technology utilized in it could be improved upon. One such technology that created one of the most useful materials for ISRU (oxygen) is MOXIE – the Mars OXygen In-situ Resource Utilization Experiment. A small-scale model of a MOXIE was recently tested on the Perseverance last year. Its primary goal is to create oxygen out of the Martian atmosphere.Continue reading “Mars Explorers are Going to Need air, and Lots of it. Here’s a Technology That Might Help Them Breath Easy”
It’s almost impossible to comprehend a supernova explosion’s violent, destructive power. An exploding supernova can outshine its host galaxy for a few weeks or even months. That seems almost impossible when considering that a galaxy can contain hundreds of billions of stars. Any planet too close to a supernova would be completely sterilized by all the energy released, its atmosphere would be stripped away, and it may even be shredded into pieces.
But like many things in nature, it all comes down to dose.
A certain amount of supernova activity might be necessary for life to exist.Continue reading “Nearby Supernovae Were Essential to Life on Earth”
Earth has had a long and complex history since its formation roughly 4.5 billion years ago. Initially, it was a molten ball, but eventually, it cooled and became differentiated. The Moon formed from a collision between Earth and a protoplanet named Theia (probably), the oceans formed, and at some point in time, about 4 billion years ago, simple life appeared.
Those are the broad strokes, and scientists have worked hard to fill in a detailed timeline of Earth’s history. But there are a host of significant and poorly-understood periods in the timeline, lined up like targets for the scientific method. One of them concerns UV radiation and its effects on early life.
A new study probes the effects of UV radiation on Earth’s early life-forms and how it might have shaped our world.Continue reading “The Early Earth was Really Horrible for Life”
NASA has delayed their Artemis mission to the Moon, but that doesn’t mean a return to the Moon isn’t imminent. Space agencies around the world have their sights set on our rocky satellite. No matter who gets there, if they’re planning for a sustained presence on the Moon, they’ll require in-situ resources.
Oxygen and water are at the top of a list of resources that astronauts will need on the Moon. A team of engineers and scientists are figuring out how to cook Moon rocks and get vital oxygen and water from them. They presented their results at the Europlanet Science Congress 2021.Continue reading “Chefs on the Moon Will be Cooking up Rocks to Make air and Water”
Breathe it while you still can. A new research study forecasts the future of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere and finds grim news. As the sun continues to warm, carbon dioxide will bind to rocks. This will starve plants, and in as little as a billion years they won’t be able to produce enough oxygen to keep our planet habitable (for us).Continue reading “A Billion Years From now There won’t be Much Oxygen in the Earth’s Atmosphere”
It takes oxygen to make iron rust. So when scientists discovered hematite spread widely through lunar high latitudes, they were surprised. How did that happen?
A new study suggests that oxygen from Earth could be playing a role in rusting the Moon.Continue reading “Earth’s Oxygen Could be Making the Moon Rust”