Origin & Evolution of Life

Scientists Find Molecular Patterns That May Help Identify Extraterrestrial Life

Scientists Find Molecular Patterns That May Help Identify Extraterrestrial Life

Scientists have begun the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System in earnest, but such life may be subtly or profoundly different from Earth-life, and methods based on detecting particular molecules as biosignatures may not apply to life with a different evolutionary history.

Moons and Icy Worlds

In Search Of Subsurface Oceans Within The Uranian Moons

In Search Of Subsurface Oceans Within The Uranian Moons

The Galileo mission to Jupiter discovered magnetic signatures associated with hidden sub-surface oceans at the moons Europa and Callisto using the phenomenon of magnetic induction. These induced magnetic fields originate from electrically conductive layers within the moons and are driven by Jupiter's strong time-varying magnetic field.

Mars

Mars Astrobiological Cave And Internal Habitability Explorer (MACIE): A New Frontiers Mission Concept

Mars Astrobiological Cave And Internal Habitability Explorer (MACIE): A New Frontiers Mission Concept

Martian subsurface habitability and astrobiology can be evaluated via a lava tube cave, without drilling. MACIE addresses two key goals of the Decadal Survey (2013-2022) and three MEPAG goals.

Enceladus

Evidence That A Novel Type Of Satellite Wake Might Exist In Saturn's E Ring

Evidence That A Novel Type Of Satellite Wake Might Exist In Saturn's E Ring

Saturn's E ring consists of micron-sized particles launched from Enceladus by that moon's geological activity. A variety of small-scale structures in the E-ring's brightness have been attributed to tendrils of material recently launched from Enceladus.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

New Marine Sulfur Cycle Model After The Snowball Earth Glaciation

New Marine Sulfur Cycle Model After The Snowball Earth Glaciation

The Sturtian Snowball Earth glaciation (717~660 million years ago) represents the most severe icehouse climate in Earth's history. Geological evidence indicates that, during this glaciation, ice sheets extended to low latitudes, and model simulations suggest global frozen ocean as well as a prolonged shut-down of the hydrological cycles.

Genomics and Cell Biology

Using DNA To Trace The Origins Of Giant Viruses

Using DNA To Trace The Origins Of Giant Viruses

2003 was a big year for virologists. The first giant virus was discovered in this year, which shook the virology scene, revising what was thought to be an established understanding of this elusive group and expanding the virus world from simple, small agents to forms that are as complex as some bacteria.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

How Planets Form Controls Elements Essential For Life

How Planets Form Controls Elements Essential For Life

The prospects for life on a given planet depend not only on where it forms but also how, according to Rice University scientists.

Astrochemistry

First Discovery Of Methanol In A Warm Planet-forming Disk

First Discovery Of Methanol In A Warm Planet-forming Disk

An international team of researchers led by Alice Booth (Leiden University, the Netherlands) have discovered methanol in the warm part of a planet-forming disk.

Astrochemistry

Detection of Interstellar H2CCCHC3N

Detection of Interstellar H2CCCHC3N

The chemical pathways linking the small organic molecules commonly observed in molecular clouds to the large, complex, polycyclic species long-suspected to be carriers of the ubiquitous unidentified infrared emission bands remain unclear.

Moons and Icy Worlds

Probing The Icy Shell Structure Of Ocean Worlds With Gravity-topography Admittance

Probing The Icy Shell Structure Of Ocean Worlds With Gravity-topography Admittance

The structure of the icy shells of ocean worlds is important for understanding the stability of their underlying oceans as it controls the rate at which heat can be transported outward and radiated to space.

Extrasolar Planets

Grid of Pseudo-2D Chemistry Models for Tidally-Locked Exoplanets. I. The Role of Vertical and Horizontal Mixing

Grid of Pseudo-2D Chemistry Models for Tidally-Locked Exoplanets. I. The Role of Vertical and Horizontal Mixing

The atmospheres of synchronously rotating exoplanets are intrinsically three-dimensional, and fast vertical and horizontal winds are expected to mix the atmosphere, driving the chemical composition out of equilibrium.

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