This Toxic Compound on Titan Could Support Life “Not as We Know It”

Saturn’s largest moon Titan is often called an analogy to early Earth, with its thick, chemical-rich atmosphere and widespread system of flowing rivers and north polar lakes. But located almost a billion miles away from the Sun, everything on Titan is shifted into a completely different—and frigid—level of existence from that found on Earth. With…

Scientists Squeeze Methane Out Of Martian Meteorites

One of the biggest clues to finding evidence of life on Mars – past or present – has been the existence of methane, an organic compound that is the principal component of natural gas here on Earth. Methane can arise via both biological and non-biological processes, but in both cases it can be used as…

Could Humans Set Up Camp in Martian Lava Tubes?

The concept of off-world habitation has been getting extra attention recently, especially with the announcement of 100 semi-finalists selected for the MarsOne “mission” (quotes because there’s more than a small amount of doubt that it will ever really take off – pun intended) and world-famous astronauts like Buzz Aldrin unabashedly telling us to “get our asses…

Is This What Life on Mars Might Have Looked Like?

A great find from the NASA archives! This composite of three artists’ renderings from 1975 may have only been wish fulfillment for an unnamed JPL artist; however, the landscape and the rendered shapes took into account what was known about Mars at that time, a year before the first Viking landing. “Life on Mars” was…

Is Earth Alive?

Proposed by scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 70s, the Gaia theory suggests Earth is a self-supporting singular life form, similar to a cell. The theory claims that, rather than being merely a stage upon which life exists, life — in all forms — works to actively construct an Earthly environment in which it can…

Enceladus Sprays Its Secrets To Cassini

Enceladus, Saturn’s 318-mile-wide moon that’s become famous for its ice-spraying southern jets, is on astronomers’ short list of places in our own solar system where extraterrestrial life could be hiding — and on March 27, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft was in just the right place to try and sniff it out. Why does Cassini team director…

Evidence of Lakes Beneath Europa’s Ice

New research on Jupiter’s ice-covered moon Europa indicates the presence of a subsurface lake buried beneath frozen mounds of huge jumbled chunks of ice. While it has long been believed that Europa’s ice lies atop a deep underground ocean, these new findings support the possibility of large pockets of liquid water being much closer to…

More Hope for Life on Enceladus?

Researchers on the Cassini mission team have identified large salt grains in the plumes emanating from Saturn’s icy satellite Enceladus, making an even stronger case for the existence of a salty liquid ocean beneath the moon’s frozen surface.

Sunny Face

The most recent (7:15 pm CST 12-10-2010) AIA image of the Sun by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Looks like a face. 🙂 That is all. Image courtesy SDO (NASA) and the AIA consortium. (Oh, and congrats to the SDO team for their image being chosen as one of LIFE’s pictures of the year! w00tw00t!)

Breaking the Ice

Here’s a look at the frozen crater Cilix, a rare ice-filled dent in the scoured and resurfaced face of Europa. Taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1998, this image has been reassembled from raw data and color-calibrated by Gordan Ugarkovic to highlight the surface detail of this fascinating frozen cueball of a moon. Covered by…