NASA Selects 2 Missions to Study ‘Lost Habitable’ World of Venus
Astrobiology Magazine | Exploring the Solar System and beyond
by support
1y ago
Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA has selected two new missions to Venus, Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor. Part of NASA’s Discovery Program, the missions aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world when it has so many other characteristics similar to ours – and may have been the fi ..read more
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Alien Oceans – with Kevin Hand
Astrobiology Magazine | Exploring the Solar System and beyond
by support
1y ago
Below is an abriged version of a conversation with planetary scientist, Kevin Hand, on the podcast “StarTalk, with Neil deGrasse Tyson”. To listen to the full podcast, visit: https://www.startalkradio.net/show/cosmic-queries-alien-oceans/ NEIL: Today’s show is a StarTalk, Cosmic Queries Edition on The Search for Life in the Universe. So, while I carry some expertise in this, I carry nowhere near what is necessary to be the expert on this Cosmic Queries. We’ve got Kevin Hand, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Director of the Ocean Worlds Lab. Welcome! So Kevin, you jus ..read more
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Did Earth’s early rise in oxygen help multicellular life evolve?
Astrobiology Magazine | Exploring the Solar System and beyond
by Helen Matsos
1y ago
A new study is taking the air out of a hypothesis linking early Earth’s oxygenation to larger, more complex organisms. Georgia Tech researchers report a more complex effect. Scientists have long thought that there was a direct connection between the rise in atmospheric oxygen, which started with the Great Oxygenation Event 2.5 billion years ago, and the rise of large, complex multicellular organisms. IMAGE: ARTIST RENDERING OF EARLY EARTH CREDIT: NASA That theory, the “Oxygen Control Hypothesis,” suggests that the size of these early multicellular organisms was limited by the depth to whi ..read more
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Did Earth’s early rise in oxygen help multicellular life evolve?
Astrobiology Magazine | Exploring the Solar System and beyond
by Helen Matsos
1y ago
A new study is taking the air out of a hypothesis linking early Earth’s oxygenation to larger, more complex organisms. Georgia Tech researchers report a more complex effect. Scientists have long thought that there was a direct connection between the rise in atmospheric oxygen, which started with the Great Oxygenation Event 2.5 billion years ago, and the rise of large, complex multicellular organisms. IMAGE: ARTIST RENDERING OF EARLY EARTH CREDIT: NASA That theory, the “Oxygen Control Hypothesis,” suggests that the size of these early multicellular organisms was limited by the depth to whi ..read more
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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Makes Historic First Flight
Astrobiology Magazine | Exploring the Solar System and beyond
by Helen Matsos
1y ago
The small rotorcraft made history, hovering above Jezero Crater, demonstrating that powered, controlled flight on another planet is possible. Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT). “Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space explora ..read more
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Beware ‘oxygen false positives’ in search for signs of life on other planets
Astrobiology Magazine | Exploring the Solar System and beyond
by Helen Matsos
1y ago
Oxygen in the atmosphere may not be an entirely reliable ‘biosignature,’ but there are ways to distinguish false positives from signs of life, scientists say. In the search for life on other planets, the presence of oxygen in a planet’s atmosphere is one potential sign of biological activity that might be detected by future telescopes. A new study, however, describes several scenarios in which a lifeless rocky planet around a sun-like star could evolve to have oxygen in its atmosphere.  By varying the initial inventory of volatile elements in a model of the geochemical evolution of rocky ..read more
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Life on Venus?
Astrobiology Magazine | Exploring the Solar System and beyond
by Helen Matsos
1y ago
First we need to know more about molecules in the atmosphere. Scientists shed more light on molecules linked to life on other planets. To confirm life on other planets, we need to detect far more molecules in their atmospheres than we currently do to rule out non-biological chemical processes. Phosphine detected in the atmosphere of Venus has scientists divided about whether or not it signifies primitive life on the planet. Image: Shutterstock The search for life on other planets has received a major boost after scientists revealed the spectral signatures of almost 1000 atmospheric molecules t ..read more
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NASA’s Dragonfly Mission Will Seek Clues about Titan’s Habitability
Astrobiology Magazine | Exploring the Solar System and beyond
by Joelle Renstrom
2y ago
When the Huygens probe descended from the Cassini spacecraft in 2005 and gave humans a close-up of Titan’s dense atmosphere, scientists began dreaming of a future mission that would further explore Saturn’s largest moon. Thus, the seeds of the Dragonfly mission were sown. This groundbreaking mission may provide clues to Titan’s habitability, as well as to the chemical processes that lay the groundwork for the emergence of life. What is Dragonfly? The Dragonfly mission is scheduled to last at least 32 months and may be extended if the vehicle and instruments on board remain ..read more
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Key Building Block for Organic Molecules Discovered in Meteorites
Astrobiology Magazine | Exploring the Solar System and beyond
by Astrobiology Magazine staffwriter
2y ago
Scientists from Japan and NASA have confirmed the presence in meteorites of a key organic molecule which may have been used to build other organic molecules, including some used by life. The discovery validates theories of the formation of organic compounds in extraterrestrial environments. The chemistry of life runs on organic compounds, molecules containing carbon and hydrogen, which also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life. An en ..read more
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Hubble Pins Down Weird Exoplanet with Far-Flung Orbit
Astrobiology Magazine | Exploring the Solar System and beyond
by Helen Matsos
2y ago
A planet in an unlikely orbit around a double star 336 light-years away may offer a clue to a mystery much closer to home: a hypothesized, distant body in our solar system dubbed “Planet Nine.” This Hubble Space Telescope image shows one possible orbit (dashed ellipse) of the 11-Jupiter-mass exoplanet HD 106906 b. This remote world is widely separated from its host stars, whose brilliant light is masked here to allow the planet to be seen. The planet resides outside its system’s circumstellar debris disk, which is akin to our own Kuiper Belt of small, icy bodies beyond Neptune. The disk itself ..read more
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