Tag Archives: Astrobiology

Curiosity Finds Mars May Be Covered in Organic Chemistry

New analysis from NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover shows that the red planet is likely flush with organics.

“I am convinced that organics are all over Mars,” said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist and geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“They’re all over the surface and they’re probably through the rock record. What that means is something we’ll have to talk about,” Eigenbrode said last week during a National Academy of Sciences workshop about the search for life beyond Earth. Continue reading Curiosity Finds Mars May Be Covered in Organic Chemistry

Curiosity’s Mars Drill Is Jammed

Having your drill break down while you’re millions of miles from the nearest hardware store would be a bummer, but that is exactly what’s happened to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.

The rover, which is currently located at the lower slopes of the 3.4-mile-high Mount Sharp (officially known as Aeolis Mons), was supposed to carry out a drilling operation on a geologically interesting location on Dec. 1 when mission controllers got word that Curiosity was unable to complete its commands. Early indications show that the rover detected a fault with the “drill feed” mechanism that lowers the drill piece to the rocky sample and aborted the operation. Continue reading Curiosity’s Mars Drill Is Jammed

Electronic E.T.: Intelligent Aliens Are Likely Machines

Any intelligent aliens that humans manage to contact probably won’t look much like you or me, or the squid-like creatures in the new film “Arrival.”

If an extraterrestrial species becomes advanced enough to send signals Earthlings can pick up, it will likely shed its traditional biological trappings and become a form of machine intelligence in rather short order, said veteran alien hunter Seth Shostak.

To make his case, Shostak pointed to the path that humanity appears to be on. The human species invented the radio around 1900 and the computer in 1945, and it’s already manufacturing relatively cheap devices with greater computing power than the human brain. Continue reading Electronic E.T.: Intelligent Aliens Are Likely Machines

NASA Is Ready to Start Building Its Life-Hunting 2020 Mars Rover

NASA’s life-hunting 2020 Mars rover has cleared an extensive review process and is now ready to begin the final design and construction phase, agency officials announced July 15.

If all goes according to plan, the six-wheeled robot will blast off in August 2020, touch down in February 2021 in a yet-to-be-determined spot, and then explore the Martian surface for at least two years, mission team members said. Continue reading NASA Is Ready to Start Building Its Life-Hunting 2020 Mars Rover

Alien ‘Wow!’ Signal Could Soon be Explained

The story behind the famous “Wow!” signal has an eerie quality that has inspired countless science fiction alien encounters and is often lauded as one of the strongest pieces of evidence that we are, in fact, not alone in the universe.

However, its “alien intelligence” authenticity has been questioned since that fabled night on Aug. 15, 1977 at 10:16 p.m. ET when astronomer Jerry Ehman used the Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope to sweep the skies for signals that may have originated from an extraterrestrial civilization. Continue reading Alien ‘Wow!’ Signal Could Soon be Explained

Life’s Building Blocks Created on Lab-Grown Comet

Mix water, methanol and ammonia at low temperatures and low pressure, irradiate with ultraviolet light and what do you get? A residue of organics, which when warmed to room temperature, contains ribose and other sugars that are believed to be building blocks for RNA and DNA, molecules essential for all known forms of life. Continue reading Life’s Building Blocks Created on Lab-Grown Comet

Seeking the Aliens Who Are Looking Right At Us

What if an advanced alien civilization saw our planet across the interstellar expanse and switched on their powerful radio transmitters to send a “hello neighbor!” message… but all of our radio antennae were staring at KIC 8462852 when we really should be paying attention to Omicron Persei. Continue reading Seeking the Aliens Who Are Looking Right At Us