• Characterizing the “Missing Era” of Prebiotic Evolution

    POSTED BY: Sara Imari Walker
    Despite these challenges, astrobiologists have managed to be clever enough to identify some of the key steps leading from nonlife to life. In particular, it is well recognized that a critical stage in the origin of life was the emergence of the first functional biopolymers – things that may have been akin to very primitive RNA or peptides (peptides are short sequences of amino acids much less complex than modern proteins). This early stage in evolution is relatively uncharacterized given that we know very little about the first ....


  • Water flows on the surface of Mars.

    POSTED BY: Noah Hammond
    Long ago, Mars was not so different than the Earth. Vast oceans covered its surface, there was a substantial atmosphere and the environment was much more suitable for life.

    We see evidence of this today, in the form of river channels and delta deposits on the surface, relics of Mars\'s warmer and wetter past. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, circling the red planet since 2006, also detected philo-silicates, a fancy word for clays. Clay forms in the presence of water and their composition could hold the key to discovering wh....


  • Found the Higgs… now find the aliens!

    POSTED BY: Adi Chopra
    The hunt for the Higgs boson seems to be in its final stages. Earlier this month scientists reported a possible sighting of the elusive particle that is a key element of the Standard Model. While not conclusive, it complements results from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) last year and as the search window narrows, physicists are giving the Higg’s less than a year to come out of hiding. When that news does come through, it will be regarded as a successful milestone for the LHC, thanks to the years of effort by a large community suppo....


  • Near-Surface Water on Europa

    POSTED BY: ShawnDgoldman
    More to follow, but I wanted to post quickly (VERY quickly as my keyboard is racing my battery) about the Science Update on Europa. The basic gist is this: Earth scientists had a well-validated model for how certain terrains form on Earth They applied this model to the chaos terrains on Europa They were able to explain these features quite well, arguably much better than previous efforts If the work holds up (remember, this is a a hypothesis to be tested), here´s what it implies: Europa probably does have a thick shell, despite the p....