Today’s paper proposes a detection method for technologically advanced life that goes beyond the usual SETI signals: looking at exoplanet atmospheres not just for the presence of life in general, but for the chemical signatures of intelligent life.
New Horizons will arrive at Pluto in mid-2015. Images of ancient tectonic features on its surface may provide evidence for the existence of an ancient, subsurface ocean.
Exoplanets with moons could mimic alien life-signs.
Planets orbiting close to type-M dwarf stars are in the habitable zone, but if their orbits are in a 3:2 spin resonance, do their long, strange days and nights have a chance of supporting photosynthetic life?
In search of a good origin story for the building blocks of life, the authors of this paper have set their sights higher. Literally higher, to exoplanets’ skies.
Can life spread from Earth to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn on rock ejected from meteoroid collisions? The authors of this paper start on answering this question by asking if ejected material from Earth can even reach the gas giants’ moons. The answer is yes, so it’s possible that microbial Earthlings have already traveled a lot farther than human ones.
This paper asks what the biosphere of the Earth will look like billions of years from now, when the era of life is ending. What biosignatures might we detect from a dying planet?
This article uses theoretical modeling to estimate the influence of ice and snow on the habitability of extrasolar planets. This work differentiates itself from past efforts by including the influence of the atmosphere, and by considering planets orbiting M-dwarfs in addition to Sun-like stars.
The Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler project has conducted the first ever search for a moon around a planet in the habitable zone. While they find no evidence for such a moon, they demonstrate that Earth-sized and possibly habitable moons should be easily detectable with the current Kepler data.
Detailed atmospheric models reveal that planets can be habitable much closer to their host star than previously thought, provided they have desert-like climates. This expanded definition of the habitable zone increases the number of planets that could support life by a factor of 2-3.