How small bodies are playing a big role in planetary science
Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has ben visited by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, and could receive another visit from a potential NASA mission called CAESAR.
Why formamide may have been early life’s alternative to water
An organic compound called formamide could have acted in place of water as a solvent (meaning it can dissolve molecules) in early life on Earth, according to new research describing how formamide could have formed when exposed to natural concentrations of radioactive elements
A cosmic gorilla effect could blind the detection of aliens
A well-known experiment with young people bouncing a ball showed that when an observer focuses on counting the passes, he does not detect if someone crosses the stage disguised as a gorilla.
How tidally-locked planets could avoid a ‘snowball Earth’ fate
Tidally-locked planets in the habitable zone of stars may be able to avoid global ice ages, according to a study that models the interplay of where ice forms and how it reflects sunlight. Meanwhile, a second study has found that planets that are strongly tilted are more likely to experience sudden ice ages.
Asteroids and comets shower Mars with organics
Asteroids and comets appear to be a much more important supplier of organic molecules on Mars than expected. Until now, astronomers assumed that the organics on Mars mainly came from dust particles from space. Now, computer simulations by an international team of researchers led by Dutch astronomers indicate that one third of the material comes from asteroids and comets.
Photosynthesis originated a billion years earlier than we thought
Ancient microbes may have been producing oxygen through photosynthesis a billion years earlier than we thought, which means oxygen was available for living organisms very close to the origin of life on earth. In a new article in Heliyon, a researcher from Imperial College London studied the molecular machines responsible for photosynthesis and found the process may have evolved as long as 3.6 billion years ago.
When it comes to extinction, body size matters
An interdisciplinary team of scientists proposes a more nuanced model for extinction that also shows why animal species tend to evolve toward larger body sizes.
Mars and Earth may not have been early neighbors
A study published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters posits that Mars formed in what today is the Asteroid Belt, roughly one and a half times as far from the Sun as its current position, before migrating to its present location.
A series of fortunate events: Antarctic zircons tell story of early volcanism
Geoscientists from Michigan Technological University, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and ETH Zurich have traced the age and chemical signatures stored in tiny zircon minerals to examine the recycling of carbon from the mantle to the surface through time.
Mars study yields clues to possible cradle of life
The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth.