life in the solar system

What on Earth could live in a salt water lake on Mars? An expert explains

What on Earth could live in a salt water lake on Mars? An expert explains

Tantalizing new evidence has suggested that there may be a salty lake below a glacier on Mars. While brine at freezing temperatures does not sound like the most hospitable of environments, it is difficult to resist pondering whether organic life could survive – or even make some kind of living – there

NASA simulation shows how Europa’s “fossil ocean” rises to the surface over time

NASA simulation shows how Europa’s “fossil ocean” rises to the surface over time

In the 1970s, the Jupiter system was explored by a succession of robotic missions, beginning with the Pioneer 10 and 11 missions in 1972/73 and the Voyager 1 and 2 missions in 1979. In addition to other scientific objectives, these missions also captured images of Europa’s icy surface features, which gave rise to the theory that the moon had an interior ocean that could possibly harbor life.

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.

Ceres has even more organic molecules on it than previously thought!

Ceres has even more organic molecules on it than previously thought!

In March of 2015, NASA’s Dawn mission became the first spacecraft to visit the protoplanet Ceres, the largest body in the Main Asteroid Belt. It was also the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet, having arrived a few months before the New Horizons mission made its historic flyby of Pluto. Since that time, Dawn has revealed much about Ceres, which in turn is helping scientists to understand the early history of the Solar System. 

Rover detects ancient organic material on Mars – and it could be trace of past life!

 Rover detects ancient organic material on Mars – and it could be trace of past life!

It was to a great fanfare of publicity that researchers announced they had  found evidence for past life on Mars in 1996. What they claimed they had discovered was a fossilized micro-organism in a Martian meteorite, which they argued was evidence that there has once been life on the Red Planet. Sadly, most scientists dismissed this claim in the decade that followed – finding other explanations for the rock’s formation.

Scientists find that earth bacteria could thrive on Enceladus!

Scientists find that earth bacteria could thrive on Enceladus!

For decades, ever since the Pioneer and Voyager missions passed through the outer Solar System, scientists have speculated that life might exist within icy bodies like Jupiter’s moon Europa. However, thanks the Cassini mission, scientists now believe that other moons in the outer Solar System – such as Saturn’s moon Enceladus – could possibly harbor life as well.

Curiosity has lasted more than 2,000 days on mars, triple its original mission plan

Curiosity has lasted more than 2,000 days on mars, triple its original mission plan

On August 5th, 2012, after spending over 8 months in space, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars. As part of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, and the latest in a series of rovers deployed to the Martian surface, Curiosity had some rather ambitious research goals. In addition to investigating Mars’ climate and geology, the rover was also tasked with revealing more about Mars’ past and determining if it ever supported microbial life.

Icy worlds like Europa and Enceladus might actually be too soft to land on

Icy worlds like Europa and Enceladus might actually be too soft to land on

Some truly interesting and ambitious missions have been proposed by NASA and other space agencies for the coming decades. Of these, perhaps the most ambitious include missions to explore the “Ocean Worlds” of the Solar System. Within these bodies, which include Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus, scientists have theorized that life could exist in warm-water interior oceans.

Our rover could discover life on Mars – here’s what it would take to prove it

Our rover could discover life on Mars – here’s what it would take to prove it

Finding past or present microbial life on Mars would without doubt be one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time. And in just two years’ time, there’s a big opportunity to do so, with two rovers launching there to look for signs of life – Mars2020 by NASA and ExoMars by the European Space Agency and Roscosmos.

Life on Mars can survive for millions of years even right near the surface

Mars is not exactly a friendly place for life as we know it. While temperatures at the equator can reach as high as a balmy 35 °C (95 °F) in the summer at midday, the average temperature on the surface is -63 °C (-82 °F), and can reach as low as -143 °C (-226 °F) during winter in the polar regions. Its atmospheric pressure is about one-half of one percent of Earth’s, and the surface is exposed to a considerable amount of radiation.

Alien Life Could Exist in Buried Oceans Throughout the Galaxy

Alien Life Could Exist in Buried Oceans Throughout the Galaxy

The Fermi Paradox is the most well-known theory regarding evidence of alien life. Many have come forward to provide potential answers, and planetary scientist Alan Stern has one of his own: what if aliens exist in oceans deep beneath the surface?

To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it

To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it

From blob-like jellyfish to rock-like lichens, our planet teems with such diversity of life that it is difficult to recognise some organisms as even being alive. That complexity hints at the challenge of searching for life as we don’t know it – the alien biology that might have taken hold on other planets, where conditions could be unlike anything we’ve seen before.

This Martian Discovery Could Hold Clues to Origins of Life on Earth

This Martian Discovery Could Hold Clues to Origins of Life on Earth

While there are many competing theories for the origins of life on Earth, a recent discovery on Mars is giving researchers insight into early Earth conditions. Deep-water hydrothermal Martian deposits may have provided the environment necessary for hosting life.

Rare Element could pont the way to past life on Mars

Rare Element could pont the way to past life on Mars

This is not the first time that Marshall and his co-authors have advocated using vanadium to search for signs of life. Such was the subject of a presentation they made at the Astrobiology Science Conference in 2015. What’s more, Marshall and his team emphasize that it would be possible to perform this technique using instruments that are already part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.

The Moon was a first step, Mars will test our capabilities, but Europa is the prize

The Moon was a first step, Mars will test our capabilities, but Europa is the prize

When talking about the most interesting place in our solar system outside of earth, Europa usually comes op very quickly. Over the years there have been many attempts to create a mission to this mysterious moon. These attempts have always been struck down... Until now.