extraterrestrial life

Yes, I’m searching for aliens – and no, I won’t be going to Area 51 to look for them

Yes, I’m searching for aliens – and no, I won’t be going to Area 51 to look for them

What started as an internet joke has generated a stern military warning after more than a million people “signed up” to “raid” Area 51 – a secretive military installation in Southern Nevada long fancied by conspiracy theorists to be hiding evidence of a crashed UFO with aliens.

A Jarful of Titan Could Teach Us A Lot About Life There, and Here On Earth

A Jarful of Titan Could Teach Us A Lot About Life There, and Here On Earth

Titan is a distant, exotic, and dangerous world. It’s frigid temperatures and hydrocarbon chemistry is like nothing else in the Solar System. Now that NASA is heading there, some researchers are getting a jump on the mission by recreating Titan’s chemistry in jars.

NASA's Revolutionary Dragonfly Will Fly Around Titan Looking for Origins, Signs of Life!

NASA's Revolutionary Dragonfly Will Fly Around Titan Looking for Origins, Signs of Life!

NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar system is the unique, richly organic world Titan. Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon.

Accelerating exoplanet discovery using chemical fingerprints of stars

Accelerating exoplanet discovery using chemical fingerprints of stars

Stars are born when huge clouds of dust and gas collapse in on themselves and ignite. These clouds are made up of raw elements, like oxygen and titanium, and each cloud has a unique composition that imprints on the star. And within the stellar afterbirth – from the material that didn’t find its way into the star – planets are formed.

Life on Jupiter’s moon Europa? Discovery of table salt on the surface boosts hopes

Life on Jupiter’s moon Europa? Discovery of table salt on the surface boosts hopes

Europa, a frozen moon around Jupiter, is believed to be one of the most habitable worlds in the solar system. It was first imaged in detail by the Voyager 1 probe in 1979, revealing a surface almost devoid of large craters. This suggested that water regularly floods up from inside, resurfacing the satellite. Europa is also criss-crossed with long troughs, folds and ridges, potentially made of icebergs floating around in melt-water or slush.

Advanced Civilizations Could be Communicating with Neutrino Beams. Transmitted by Clouds of Satellites Around Neutron Stars or Black Holes

Advanced Civilizations Could be Communicating with Neutrino Beams. Transmitted by Clouds of Satellites Around Neutron Stars or Black Holes

In 1960, famed theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson made a radical proposal. In a paper titled “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation” he suggested that advanced extra-terrestrial intelligences (ETIs) could be found by looking for signs of artificial structures so large, they encompassed entire star systems (aka. megastructures). Since then, many scientists have come up with their own ideas for possible megastructures.

Chances for life expand when passing stars push binaries together

Planetary systems can be harsh environments in their early history. The young worlds orbit suns in stellar nurseries, clusters of stars where violent encounters are commonplace. None of this makes it easy for life to get going, but now astronomers at the University of Sheffield find one positive of this tumultuous period. A model developed by undergraduate student Bethany Wootton and Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow Dr Richard Parker looks at how the habitable zone – the region around a star where the temperature allows liquid water to exist – changes around pairs of stars, so-called binary systems.

NASA’s Technosignatures Report is Out. Every Way to Find Evidence of an Intelligent Civilization

NASA’s Technosignatures Report is Out. Every Way to Find Evidence of an Intelligent Civilization

In 1961, famed astronomer Frank Drake created a formula for estimating the number of extra-terrestrial intelligences (ETIs) that could exist within our galaxy. Known as the “Drake Equation“, this formula demonstrated that even by the most conservative estimates, our galaxy was likely to host at least a few advanced civilizations at any given time. About a decade later, NASA officially kicked of its search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) program.

Evidence of aliens? What to make of research and reporting on ‘Oumuamua, our visitor from space

 Evidence of aliens? What to make of research and reporting on ‘Oumuamua, our visitor from space

'Oumuamua, meaning scout or messenger in Hawaiian, is the name given to the first detected interstellar object to visit our Solar System. On discovery last year, 'Oumuamua was classified as a comet, but this was later withdrawn when no evidence for cometary activity was detected.

Technosignatures are NASA’s New Target for Detecting Other Civilizations in Space. Wait. What’s a Technosignature?

NASA is targeting technosignatures in its renewed effort to detect alien civilizations. Congress asked NASA to re-boot its search for other civilizations a few months ago. Their first step towards that goal is the NASA Technosignatures Workshop, held in Houston from September 26th to 28th, 2018.

Europan Space Whales Anyone? Planets Covered by Deep Oceans Can Still Have Life on Them

Europan Space Whales Anyone? Planets Covered by Deep Oceans Can Still Have Life on Them

In recent decades, astronomers have discovered many planets that they believe are “Earth-like” in nature, meaning that they appear to be terrestrial (i.e. rocky) and orbit their stars at the right distance to support the existence of liquid water on their surfaces. Unfortunately, recent research has indicated that many of these planets may in fact be “water worlds“, where water makes up a significant proportion of the planet’s mass.

Complex organic molecules are bubbling up from inside Enceladus

Complex organic molecules are bubbling up from inside Enceladus

The Cassini orbiter revealed many fascinating things about the Saturn system before its mission ended in September of 2017. In addition to revealing much about Saturn’s rings and the surface and atmosphere of Titan (Saturn’s largest moon), it was also responsible for the discovery of water plumes coming from Enceladus‘ southern polar region. The discovery of these plumes triggered a widespread debate about the possible existence of life in the moon’s interior.

NASA Uses Earth as Laboratory to Study Distant Worlds

NASA Uses Earth as Laboratory to Study Distant Worlds

The study of exoplanets -- planets that lie outside our solar system -- could help scientists answer big questions about our place in the universe, and whether life exists beyond Earth. But, these distant worlds are extremely faint and difficult to image directly. A new study uses Earth as a stand-in for an exoplanet, and shows that even with very little light -- as little as one pixel -- it is still possible to measure key characteristics of distant worlds.

One way to find aliens would be to search for artificial rings of satellites: Clarke Belts

One way to find aliens would be to search for artificial rings of satellites: Clarke Belts

When it comes to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) in the Universe, there is the complicated matter of what to be on the lookout for. Beyond the age-old question of whether or not intelligent life exists elsewhere in the Universe (statistically speaking, it is very likely that it does), there’s also the question of whether or not we would be able to recognize it if and when we saw it.

Pros and cons of various methods of interstellar travel

Pros and cons of various methods of interstellar travel

It’s a staple of science fiction, and something many people have fantasized about at one time or another: the idea of sending out spaceships with colonists and transplanting the seed of humanity among the stars. Between discovering new worlds, becoming an interstellar species, and maybe even finding extra-terrestrial civilizations, the dream of  spreading beyond the Solar System is one that can’t become reality soon enough!