These Color Swatches Could Help Us Find Alien Life

For the first time ever, scientists have created a detailed catalogue of color swatches that correspond to nearly 140 known microorganisms, including those that can live in the most extreme environments. Armed with this knowledge, astrobiologists can now scan the atmospheres of distant exoplanets in hopes of finding a… » 3/17/15 9:25am 3/17/15 9:25am

There May Be More Water On Jupiter's Largest Moon Than On Earth

By studying the subtle shifts of aurorae on Ganymede, scientists working with the Hubble Space Telescope have concluded that Jupiter's largest moon hosts a massive subterranean ocean. Quite suddenly, the outer reaches of our solar system appear to be a very wet place, indeed. » 3/13/15 12:50pm 3/13/15 12:50pm

A Warm Seafloor On Enceladus Makes It A Prime Candidate For Life

A new analysis of Cassini spacecraft data points to the distinct possibility that Saturn's icy moon Enceladus exhibits hydrothermal activity on its seafloor. It's a discovery that significantly bolsters the moon's status as a potentially habitable object. » 3/12/15 8:20am 3/12/15 8:20am

It's Time to Go Alien Hunting on Titan

Move over Europa, there's another moon out to claim the title of first place we'll discover extraterrestrial life. New research from Cornell University finds that alien microbes could, just maybe, eek it out on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. But these critters wouldn't be like anything we've ever seen before—not even… » 3/01/15 5:00pm 3/01/15 5:00pm

A New Calculation Predicts Hundreds Of Billions Of Earth-Like Planets

Using a 200 year-old statistical technique, a team of Australian astronomers have concluded that virtually every star in the Milky Way hosts at least one to two terrestrial planets capable of fostering life. » 2/05/15 9:30am 2/05/15 9:30am

A Bacteria That Hasn't Had To Evolve In More Than Two Billion Years

Scientists from UCLA have discovered a deep-sea microorganism that's the same today as it was two billion years ago. It's an observation that actually bolsters Darwin's theory of natural selection, while offering the most extreme example of evolution's "null hypothesis." » 2/03/15 6:30am 2/03/15 6:30am

Kepler Has Spotted Two Of The Most Earth-Like Planets Yet

The amazing Kepler Space Telescope has now catalogued over 1,000 exoplanets. Among them are eight new planets located within habitable zones, including two that astronomers say are the most Earth-like planets yet. Here's what we know about Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b.
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This Curiosity Image Suggests Microbial Life Once Existed On Mars

It may not look like much — just an old rock with dust on it. But after careful examination of this and other images taken of the Martian surface, a geobiologist is now claiming that these distinctive surface features could have only come from one source: microbes. » 1/06/15 9:00am 1/06/15 9:00am

Why 19th Century Scientists Believed That Life Originated In Space

The Panspermia Hypothesis holds that life on our planet traces its origins to space—say, a microbe-laden meteorite landing on primordial Earth. The theory, conceived before humans even went into space, was actually born out of criticism of Charles Darwin and his perceived failure to explain how life began. » 12/23/14 8:00am 12/23/14 8:00am

A Planet In The Dreaded "Rotisserie" Alignment Could Still Support Life

One of the criteria for the habitability of exoplanets is their obliquity—the angle of the axis relative to the orbit around a star. Current thinking holds that the more extreme the tilt, the less likely the possibility of life. But MIT researchers suggest one notable exception: a world completely covered by water. » 12/18/14 10:40am 12/18/14 10:40am

Ancient Mars May Have Been More Habitable Than We Thought

Data collected by the Curiosity Rover suggests Mars once featured a moderate climate capable of fostering lakes of liquid water and even a vast sea, and that this climate could have extended to many parts of the Red Planet. » 12/09/14 9:00am 12/09/14 9:00am

DNA Can Survive Sub-Orbital Spaceflight And Atmospheric Reentry

The discovery is a boost for the Panspermia Hypothesis — but it's a potential nightmare for scientists concerned about interplanetary contamination. » 11/27/14 9:40am 11/27/14 9:40am

We Can Thank Saturn for Helping Life to Evolve on Earth

Models show that if the ringed planet's orbit was just 10% closer in, or even just slightly tilted, its mass would have tugged the Earth into a wildly elongated orbit, causing it to spend part of each year outside the habitable zone. » 11/24/14 3:40pm 11/24/14 3:40pm

After The Sun Incinerates Earth, Life Could Evolve On Titan

In about 4 billion years, our sun will become a red giant star, engulfing the inner planets and basking the outer planets in its ebbing heat. When the happens, according to a NASA scientist, Saturn's moon Titan, which resembles a frozen version of Earth billions of years ago, could evolve its own indigenous life. » 11/24/14 12:15pm 11/24/14 12:15pm

New Theory Suggests Life Can Emerge On Planets Without Water

Astrobiologists like to argue about the various parameters required for planetary habitability, but one thing they tend to agree on is that water must be present. A new theory upends this assumption by suggesting that alien life could thrive on "supercritical carbon dioxide" instead. » 11/19/14 7:00pm 11/19/14 7:00pm

How The Search For Aliens Could Save Us From Environmental Collapse

It's hard to assess the sustainability of our civilization when climate scientists and ecologists have nothing to compare ourselves to. Which is why we need to learn from the success — and potential failures — of distant alien civilizations. » 11/18/14 9:00am 11/18/14 9:00am

Could Biological Life Be Just A Passing Phase In The Universe?

Steven Dick, a famed astronomer and historian, has completed a one-year residency at the Library of Congress, researching his next book, How the Discovery of Life Will Transform Our Thinking. In an exclusive interview posted on the Library's blog, he discusses such provocative issues as evolution on a cosmic scale. » 10/29/14 3:20pm 10/29/14 3:20pm

Does Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Harbor A Hidden Ocean?

It's not the prettiest thing in the solar system, nor is it the most interesting. But Mimas — a pockmarked moon in orbit around Saturn — does exhibit a rather strange wobble. A team of astronomers say there can only be one of two explanations: either it's harbouring a subterranean ocean or it has an irregularly shaped… » 10/17/14 10:20am 10/17/14 10:20am

Half Of Our Planet's Water May Be Older Than The Sun

The next time you reach for a glass of water you might want to think about its primordial origins. A new study suggests that upwards of 50% of the Earth's water may be older thank the solar system itself. » 9/26/14 9:20am 9/26/14 9:20am