Extrasolar Planets

Terrestrial Planet Formation From Lost Inner Solar System Material

Terrestrial Planet Formation From Lost Inner Solar System Material

Two fundamentally different processes of rocky planet formation exist, but it is unclear which one built the terrestrial planets of the solar system.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Photochemical Runaway in Exoplanet Atmospheres: Implications for Biosignatures

Photochemical Runaway in Exoplanet Atmospheres: Implications for Biosignatures

About 2.5 billion years ago, microbes learned to harness plentiful Solar energy to reduce CO2 with H2O, extracting energy and producing O2 as waste.

Moons and Icy Worlds

Evidence For An Internal Ocean On Mimas

Evidence For An Internal Ocean On Mimas

A Southwest Research Institute scientist set out to prove that the tiny, innermost moon of Saturn was a frozen inert satellite and instead discovered compelling evidence that Mimas has a liquid internal ocean.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Weathering Rocks Hold Clues To Earth's Great Oxidation Event

Weathering Rocks Hold Clues To Earth's Great Oxidation Event

About 2.4 billion years ago, Earth's atmosphere underwent what is called the Great Oxidation Event (GOE). Prior to the GOE, early Earth had far less molecular oxygen than we have today. After the GOE, molecular oxygen began to increase in abundance, eventually making life like ours possible.

Space Weather

The Crucial Role Of Surface Magnetic Fields For Stellar Dynamos: Epsilon Eridani, 61 Cygni A, and the Sun

The Crucial Role Of Surface Magnetic Fields For Stellar Dynamos: Epsilon Eridani, 61 Cygni A, and the Sun

Cool main-sequence stars, such as the Sun, have magnetic fields which are generated by an internal dynamo mechanism.

Oceanic Research

Why Did Ocean Productivity Decline Abruptly 4.6 Million Years Ago?

Why Did Ocean Productivity Decline Abruptly 4.6 Million Years Ago?

By drilling deep down into sediments on the ocean floor researchers can travel back in time. A research team led from Uppsala University now presents new clues as to when and why a period often referred to as the 'biogenic bloom' came to an abrupt end. Changes in the shape of the Earth's orbit around the Sun may have played a part in the dramatic change.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Blue Marble, Stagnant Lid: Could Dynamic Topography Avert A Waterworld?

Blue Marble, Stagnant Lid: Could Dynamic Topography Avert A Waterworld?

Topography on a wet rocky exoplanet could raise land above its sea level. Although land elevation is the product of many complex processes, the large-scale topographic features on any geodynamically-active planet are the expression of the convecting mantle beneath the surface.

Astrochemistry

Organic Molecules in Interstellar Space: Latest Advances

Organic Molecules in Interstellar Space: Latest Advances

Although first considered as too diluted for the formation of molecules in-situ and too harsh an environment for their survival, the interstellar medium has turned out to host a rich palette of molecular species: to date, 256 species have been identified.

Panspermia

A Material-based Panspermia Hypothesis: The Potential of Polymer Gels and Membraneless Droplets

A Material-based Panspermia Hypothesis: The Potential of Polymer Gels and Membraneless Droplets

The Panspermia hypothesis posits that either life's building blocks (molecular Panspermia) or life itself (organism-based Panspermia) may have been interplanetary transferred to facilitate the Origins of Life (OoL) on a given planet, complementing several current OoL frameworks.

Mars

Newly Discovered Carbon May Yield Clues To Ancient Mars

Newly Discovered Carbon May Yield Clues To Ancient Mars

NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012, and since then has roamed Gale Crater taking samples and sending the results back home for researchers to interpret.

Astrobiology (general)

Gaia As Solaris: An Alternative Default Evolutionary Trajectory

Gaia As Solaris: An Alternative Default Evolutionary Trajectory

Now that we know that Earth-like planets are ubiquitous in the universe, as well as that most of them are much older than the Earth, it is justified to ask to what extent evolutionary outcomes on other such planets are similar, or indeed commensurable, to the outcomes we perceive around us.

More top stories from January.