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Tag Archives: Astrobiology

Exploring Lava Tubes on Other Worlds Will Need Rovers That Can Work Together

Planetary exploration, specifically within our own Solar System, has provided a lifetime of scientific knowledge about the many worlds beyond Earth. However, this exploration, thus far, has primarily been limited to orbiters and landers/rovers designed for surface exploration of the celestial bodies they visit. But what if we could explore subsurface environments just as easily as we’ve been able to ...

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Worlds Bustling With Plantlife Should Shine in a Detectable Wavelength of Infrared

Future historians might look back on this time and call it the ‘exoplanet age.’ We’ve found over 5,000 exoplanets, and we’ll keep finding more. Next, we’ll move beyond just finding them, and we’ll turn our efforts to finding biosignatures, the special chemical fingerprints that living processes imprint on exoplanet atmospheres. But there’s more to biosignatures than atmospheric chemistry. On a ...

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Will Pluto finally answer, ‘Are we alone?’

We previously examined how Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, could answer the longstanding question: Are we alone? With its nitrogen geysers discovered by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, possible interior ocean, and lack of craters, Triton could be geologically active, which makes it an excellent celestial body for future astrobiology missions. But Triton isn’t the only place on the edge of the ...

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Could Life Survive on Frigid Exo-Earths? Maybe Under Ice Sheets

Our understanding of habitability relies entirely on the availability of liquid water. All life on Earth needs it, and there’s every indication that life elsewhere needs it, too. Can planets with frozen surfaces somehow have enough water to sustain life? Terrestrial planets that lie outside their star’s habitable zone are largely dismissed when choosing targets for further study. But a ...

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What’s the Best Mix of Oceans to Land for a Habitable Planet?

Earth is about 29% land and 71% oceans. How significant is that mix for habitability? What does it tell us about exoplanet habitability? There are very few places on Earth where life doesn’t have a foothold. Multiple factors contribute to our planet’s overall habitability: abundant liquid water, plate tectonics, bulk composition, proximity to the Sun, the magnetosphere, etc. What role ...

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Asteroids are Dangerous, but They Might Also be the Key to Life on Earth

Trying to piece together the appearance of life on Earth is a little like looking through a kaleidoscope. There are competing theories for where Earth’s water came from, and there’s incomplete evidence for how the Moon formed and what role it played in life’s emergence. There are a thousand other questions, each with competing answers. Sometimes, contradictory research is published ...

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