• The Ends of the Earth

    Pamela Conrad, an astrobiologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has traveled to the ends of the Earth to study life. On June 16, 2005, Conrad gave a lecture entitled, “A Bipolar Year: What We Can Learn About Looking for Life on Other Planets by Working in Cold Deserts.” In part 1 of this edited transcript, Conrad describes what sort of signs we could look for to see if there is life in an alien environment.

  • SETI and the Cosmic Quarantine Hypothesis

    How many technically advanced civilizations exist in our galaxy? With this essay by Steven Soter, Scientist-in-Residence in the Center for Ancient Studies at New York University, Astrobiology Magazine initiates the first in a series of ‘Gedanken’, or thought, experiments – musings by noted scientists on scientific mysteries in a series of “what if” scenarios.

  • Roving Mars

    The Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity are the Energizer Bunnies of planetary exploration. Designed to last for only 90 days, they are still going strong after nearly two years.

  • Earth’s Wobble Burps

    Researchers have uncovered startling new evidence about an extreme period of a sudden, fatal dose of global warming some 180 million years ago during the time of the dinosaurs. The scientists’ findings could provide vital clues about climate change happening today and in the future.

  • Tenth Planet Discovered

    A planet larger than Pluto has been discovered in the outlying regions of the solar system. The planet is a typical member of the Kuiper belt, but its sheer size in relation to the nine planets already known means that it can only be classified as a planet.

  • The Living Worlds Hypothesis

    When the Cassini-Huygens mission parted Titan’s smoggy veil, it revealed a familiar and yet utterly alien landscape, one where now-dry methane rivers carved out channels in mountains of ice. There’s no evidence for biology on Titan’s frozen terrain, but in this interview with Astrobiology Magazine, David Grinspoon ponders whether life could exist there today.

  • Desert RATS Test Robotic Rover

    Earlier this month, a group of scientists and engineers converged in the Arizona desert near Meteor Crater to “practice” for future human missions to the moon and Mars. This year’s experiments focused on interaction between space-suited “astronauts” and a very sophisticated rover named SCOUT.

  • Five Easy Pieces

    We’ve had a lot of orbiters since the Mariner missions, and not only do we see water features in the land, but we also see evidence of tectonics, or possibly volcanic activity.

  • A Comet’s Only Cameraman

    In recognition of those Mars Rover graphics in the PBS/NOVA program “Mars Dead or Alive,” Maas just received an Emmy Award nomination. His next big project was to simulate the dramatic impact of a bullet-like probe with a icy comet for the recent mission, Deep Impact.

  • Making a List, Checking It Twice

    When you’re on the moon, trying to fix some broken equipment, you don’t want to waste time fumbling around in oversized gloves trying to read the instruction manual. NASA’s solution: make the operations checklist electronic, and mount a display inside an astronaut’s helmet. Geologist Dean Eppler, who recently tested just such a system (albeit on Earth), says it works pretty well.