Astrobiology

astrobiology

Looking for life in coldest, driest Antarctica

Antarctica is nicknamed the “White Continent,” but one site — University Valley in the continent’s McMurdo Dry Valleys region — has remained virtually snow-free for more than 150,000 years, making it the coldest, driest desert on Earth. For the past four years, researchers involved in NASA’s ASTEP (Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets) program searched for signs of life in the valley because it is thought to closely resemble the northern polar regions of Mars where the Phoenix spacecraft landed in 2008. In a new study, though, the team reports that it came up empty-handed, confirming that University Valley is indeed one of the least-habitable places on Earth.

05 May 2016

Geomedia: Books: A brief history of our cosmic origins

In the 1980 television show “Cosmos,” astronomer Carl Sagan famously noted: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” This scientifically and philosophically profound concept — that we are starstuff through and through — has been known for less than 50 years, and the history of its discovery was fraught with naysayers.

21 Jan 2015

Bare Earth Elements: Mars rocks wear manganese coats

Several rocks on the surface of Mars are coated with distinctive dark-colored surface layers enriched in manganese that, while sharing similarities with manganese-rich rock varnish found on Earth, do not appear to be varnish themselves based on differences in trace element levels, according to new research presented Wednesday by Nina Lanza of Los Alamos National Laboratory at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in The Woodlands, Texas.

19 Mar 2014

Down to Earth With: Jacob Haqq-Misra

Jacob Haqq-Misra is all but addicted to music, which is why the astrobiologist balances his time between research and performing as a percussionist and vocalist with the psychedelic jam band, Mysterytrain.

18 Nov 2012

Danger and wonder in Nat Geo's "Giant Crystal Cave"

Razor-sharp rocks. Deadly crevasses. Unbearable heat. Scalding water. One false step...and you’re history.

“Giant Crystal Cave,” the National Geographic Channel’s hour-long documentary on scientific exploration deep inside Mexico’s Naica Mountain is as much about derring-do and danger as it is about science. The film follows three scientists as they visit the mountain’s most famous cavern for the first time in hopes of unlocking some of its mysteries.

09 Oct 2008