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Detecting Life-Friendly Moons
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
The search for life-friendly real estate around distant stars doesn't have to be limited to planets. New research shows that habitable exomoons can be detected with a new method using current technology.

Building Planet Earth
Topic: Cosmic Evolution
A new study shows how rocky planets are formed from the manic swirl of gas and dust that surround a young star, and determines what chemical building blocks are used to construct the planets. Understanding the dynamics and chemistry that create planetary systems can help astronomers in their search for Earth-like planets in the galaxy.

Migrating Microbes
Topic: Missions
With every spacecraft that leaves Earth, millions of microbes hitch a ride into space. As astrobiologists search for life in other worlds, preventing forward and back contamination remains a key priority.

A Hazy View of Early Earth
Topic: Earth
The atmosphere of the early Earth may have been filled with particulate haze, much like a smoggy day in Los Angeles. This hazy air would have affected the ancient climate and even may have influenced the origin and evolution of life.

Hot Debate over Icy Moon
Topic: Enceladus
The Cassini spacecraft spotted plumes of water vapor erupting from the south pole of Saturn´s moon Enceladus. The discovery has set off a heated debate over whether this tiny frigid moon has an ocean beneath the ice.

Dinosaur-Killer was Soft on Algae
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Molecular fossils of algae in the so-called "K-P boundary" point to a very fast recovery of these organisms following the meteorite impact that killed the dinosaurs.

Seeking Life´s Shadow
Topic: Mars
New research on ancient fossils also may offer insight into finding signs of life in Martian rocks.

Comets May Give Life a Hand
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
A comet hitting Earth would seem to bring only death and destruction, but one group is studying how such an impact could promote certain necessary chemical steps in the origin of life. The researchers are focusing on how comet collisions might have influenced the molecular orientation, or handedness, of our planet's biology.

Space Hand-Me-Downs
Topic: Missions
Much of the biology on Earth involves molecules that are oriented in a left-handed direction. A proposed nano-satellite would carry up some of these bio-molecules to see if something in space might be responsible for this left-handed excess.

Catastrophic Darkness
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
New studies of mixotrophic algae have shown how such organisms could survive the darkened skies that follow a major asteroid impact. Such studies indicate how life manages to survive after a mass extinction event.
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