feb 062013
 
 Earth-like Planets Are Right Next Door!

  Using publicly available data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have found that six percent of red dwarf stars have habitable, Earth-sized planets. Since red dwarfs are the most common stars in our galaxy, the closest Earth-like planet could be just 13 light-years away. This artist’s conception [continue reading]

jan 162013
 
Ice on Lakes and Seas at Saturn's Moon Titan

  A new paper by scientists on NASA’s Cassini mission finds that blocks of hydrocarbon ice might decorate the surface of existing lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbon on Saturn’s moon Titan. The presence of ice floes might explain some of the mixed readings Cassini has seen in the reflectivity of the surfaces of lakes [continue reading]

sep 192012
 
Organics in Very Cold Regions of the Universe; Are We Alone?

  Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are creating concoctions of organics, or carbon-bearing molecules, on ice in the lab, then zapping them with lasers. Their goal: to better understand how life arose on Earth. An artist’s concept of a  very young solar system, with its swirling planet-forming disk. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle In [continue reading]

aug 122012
 
Searching for Answers About Life on Earth and Mars

  Wichita State University associate professor Mark Schneegurt recently had a paper published in the journal “Astrobiology” which focused on bacteria that live in environments that are salty, but not with sodium chloride – the kind of salt we’re used to on Earth. It has to do with magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salt.    [continue reading]

jun 032012
 
Hunting Exoplanets with Laser Rulers

  Laser frequency combs can be used for the calibration of astronomical spectrographs. This will help to find extra-solar planets, i.e. planets that are orbiting a star outside our solar-system. By refining this technology it might become possible to directly measure even very small changes in the expansion velocity of the universe.   Artist’s impression [continue reading]

jun 022012
 
SETI Finds No Signs of Extraterrestrial Intelligence... Yet

  Astronomers have completed the first search for extraterrestrial intelligence on nearby exoplanets using very long baseline interferometry. A telescope’s angular resolution is its ability to distinguish small details of a distant object. The Hubble Space telescope, for example, has an angular resolution of about 100 milliarcseconds. That’s good but by no means the best. [continue reading]