Planets Don't Need A Stabilizing Moon To Be Habitable

There's a long-held view among astrobiologists that planets need the stabilizing influence of a large moon to foster life. But a new study suggests that a stable tilt isn't a prerequisite for habitability — and that off-kilter planets may be more hospitable to life than stable ones. » 4/16/14 2:58pm Wednesday 2:58pm

We've Found A Hidden Ocean On Enceladus That May Harbor Life

It's turning out that the outer reaches of the solar system may be more hospitable to life than we ever imagined. Gravity measurements made by Cassini have confirmed that Enceladus, a tiny moon orbiting Saturn, hosts a subsurface ocean in its southern latitudes. Astronomers are now saying it's potentially habitable. » 4/03/14 11:00am 4/03/14 11:00am

Did Life On Earth As We Know It Come From ‘Geological Life’?

When it comes to life on Earth, we're not sure if it came from the outside (transported by comets) or on the inside. A new theory focuses on the "interior " theory, saying that microbes could have evolved from non-living matter such as chemical compounds in minerals and gases. » 3/13/14 9:40am 3/13/14 9:40am

New Technique Could Help Scientists Detect Alien Life... in Four Years

A team of astrobiologists has described a new method of detecting not just water, but life, on distant worlds. There's just one problem – the telescope we need to do it won't be on line until 2018. » 3/09/14 3:30pm 3/09/14 3:30pm

This image is why everyone's so excited about a NASA mission to Europa

NASA wants to visit Jupiter's moon Europa. Why's that exciting? In a word: Water. As this visualization shows, the icy moon may look tiny next to our own planet, but it's got 2- to 3-times as much H2O as we have here on Earth. That "little" moon is packing quite the store of water — and with it, scientists think, a… » 3/08/14 8:15am 3/08/14 8:15am

Astronomers say Super-Earths may be completely sterile

The Milky Way appears to be peppered with so-called Super-Earths — distant exoplanets that are between two to 10 Earth masses. Many of them have even been detected within habitable zones. But a new study shows it doesn't matter. They're all just dead worlds. » 2/28/14 2:20pm 2/28/14 2:20pm

A New Scientific Model that Defines Alien Intelligence

Should we ever detect an extraterrestrial civilization, or any kind of alien life for that matter, it's a safe bet they'll look very different from us. They'll also probably think in a way that's completely foreign to what we're used to. Here's how experts believe we might be able to predict what the minds of aliens… » 1/28/14 11:14am 1/28/14 11:14am

What would the perfect planet be like?

When it comes to habitability, Earth may not provide the best example. Indeed, astrobiologists are saying we should look for planets that are more hospitable to life than ours — a new class of objects they're calling superhabitable worlds. They even know where we should look. » 1/17/14 9:00am 1/17/14 9:00am

New study dramatically changes where we believe aliens might live

A team of astrobiologists has redefined conventional notions of where life can exist within a solar system. They've suggested that life could exist inside planets with inhospitable surfaces. Dubbed "subsurface habitable zones," this new definition of habitable zones means that alien life may be far more prevalent than we … » 1/13/14 12:20pm 1/13/14 12:20pm

Congress Just Held a Remarkable Two-Hour Hearing on Aliens

In a refreshingly pro-science move, the House Science Committee set aside two hours yesterday to discuss the ongoing search for extraterrestrial life. The ensuing conversation was fascinating, but at times infuriating, with the experts discussing everything from alien biosignatures to the possibility that we're being… » 12/05/13 8:00am 12/05/13 8:00am

What a Habitable Planet Twice the Size of Earth Would Be Like

To date, astronomers have catalogued over 1,000 exoplanets — some of them rocky and parked within their host star's habitable zone. But a good portion of these planets are bigger than Earth, prompting us to ask: What would it actually be like on a habitable planet twice the size of ours? » 12/04/13 8:40am 12/04/13 8:40am

It may be easier to find alien life on Europa than we thought

Jupiter's moon Europa is one of the more intriguing candidates for extraterrestrial life in our solar system. New models suggest that its ice-covered waters are turbulent near the lower latitudes, giving rise to its chaotic equatorial landscapes. Intriguingly, these warm waters may make it easier for life to make it to … » 12/03/13 9:55am 12/03/13 9:55am

Could we detect signs of alien life on a dying planet?

Scientists say that we should be on the lookout for purple planets, a possible sign of primordial extraterrestrial life. But what about the biosignatures of exoplanets that are dying? A recent study concluded that it is indeed possible — we just have to recognize the signs. » 11/25/13 1:20pm 11/25/13 1:20pm

Why scientists need to search for alien life on purple planets

Billions of years ago, when microbial life first emerged on Earth, our planet would have appeared purple from space. Armed with this knowledge, scientists now say we should be on the lookout for exoplanets tinged in a similar purple hue — a possible sign of extraterrestrial life. » 11/13/13 7:20am 11/13/13 7:20am

Scientists discover the remnants of a 3.5 billion-year-old ecosystem

In a discovery that could influence the search for life on other planets, an international team of researchers working in Western Australia's Pilbara region have uncovered evidence of complex microbial ecosystems dating back 3.5 billion years. That's 300 million years earlier than previous finds. » 11/12/13 8:40am 11/12/13 8:40am

Some of the Most Plausible Scenarios for Alien Civilizations

We have yet to make contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence, making it exceedingly difficult for us to imagine what an alien civilization might be like. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make some educated guesses. Here’s what we know — and don’t know — about aliens. » 11/04/13 11:00am 11/04/13 11:00am