Deep Space

  • Ice Age Aliens
    The light reflected off of vegetation could be a signal of life on an alien planet. Researchers have now shown that this plant life signal can be seen even if a world is in the midst of an ice age.
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  • A Very Hot Earth
    With observations from COROT telescope, astronomers have identified smallest exoplanet. The planet is less than twice the size of Earth, orbits a sun-like star and is solid to walk on. This important discovery widens the scope for astronomers searching for habitable, Earth-like planets around distant
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  • Slime Worlds
    At the most recent NASA Astrobiology Science Conference, a panel of scientists discussed different types of planets where alien life might be found. In part one of this series, Seth Shostak reviews the search for extrasolar planets, and Tori Hoehler describes a place of "colorful
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  • A Sizzling Weather Report
    Astronomers have managed to yield important clues about the atmosphere of a distant planet as it swung close to its parent star. The information also allowed them to make realistic simulations of what the planet might look like.
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  • Early Attempts to Contact Aliens
    The idea that we Earthlings may not be alone is not new, nor is the idea of trying to signal our cosmic neighbors. The first era of interplanetary communication began in the 19th century.
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  • Transiting Neptune
    Astronomers have discovered a planet somewhat larger and more massive than Neptune as it passed in front of its parent star. This 'transit' method of finding planets is useful because it can yield information about the physical properties of the planet.
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  • Double Star Disks
    A new study suggests that planets may easily form around binary star systems. The finding is helping astronomers narrow down the best locations in the Universe to search for extrasolar planets.
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  • Seeing Exoplanets from Earth
    Two independent groups have made the first ground-based detection of thermal emissions from extrasolar planets. The studies open a new frontier for monitoring alien worlds from Earth, and also paves the way for further observations of extrasolar atmospheres.
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  • Talking About Tides
    As it orbits a star, a planet can be squeezed and flexed by intense gravitational forces. In this podcast, Brian Jackson explains how this "tidal heating" can help determine whether a planet will have life.
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  • Dead Stars Tell of Planet Birth
    Astronomers are now studying the evolution of planets by studying dead stars. These stars are littered with the remnants of asteroids – providing information about the building materials of planets.
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  • Astrobiology Top 10: Seeing a Distant Planet
    Astrobiology Magazine is looking back over 2008, highlighting the top 10 astrobiology stories of the year. At number 2 is the first visible-light photograph of an extrasolar planet. The planet is about the size of Jupiter, and scientists believe that the system in which it
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  • The Evolution of EPOXI
    In this podcast, Tim Livengood and Vikki Meadows discuss the EPOXI mission and how it will be used to search for Earth-like planets in alien solar systems.
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  • Life on Super-Earths
    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial life to include some very unearthly places. Their theory is that ice-covered super-Earths, which are plentiful in the Universe, could support some kinds of life.
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  • Some Planets are Better for Life
    A new idea proposes that worlds with the potential to host organisms can be split into four categories, each with their own likelihood of being inhabited. With extrasolar planet detection methods becoming ever-more advanced, these ideas could influence which worlds are studied first.
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  • Planets Form in the Eye of a Storm
    New research shows that turbulence in protoplanetary disks plays a key role in the birth of planet. The finding may alter theories on how planets form from dust and debris around distant stars.
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