Researchers at the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory have devised a new habitability index for judging how suitable alien planets might be for life. The point of the exercise is to help scientists prioritize future targets for close-ups from NASA’s yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope…
Earlier this year, a scan of 100,000 galaxies showed no signs of alien mega-civilizations, dashing the hopes of those longing for a close encounter of the extra-terrestrial kind. A follow-up analysis of the data suggests it’s even worse than we thought, concluding that advanced galaxy-spanning civilizations don’t…
Cornell University’s Institute for Pale Blue Dots has a new name. Now called the Carl Sagan Institute: Pale Blue Dot and Beyond, the multidisciplinary research institute is dedicated to investigating the life-harboring potential of other planets, and to acquiring a richer understanding of our own.
The Great Silence is a vexing problem we all love to speculate and argue about, but it’s not the most intuitive concept. This wonderful animated video by Kurz Gesagt explains the problem that is the Fermi Paradox and why our apparent isolation in the galaxy is so damned weird.
A few weeks ago, NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan made news by saying, “I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” It was a bold statement, but NASA is now backing those words with action.
A pioneering infrared scan of 100,000 galaxies by Penn State astronomers has failed to detect any signs of galaxy-spanning extraterrestrial supercivilizations. This result, though very preliminary, may be a sign that aliens aren't capable of conquering entire galaxies.
NASA wants to visit Jupiter's moon Europa. Why's that exciting? In a word: Water. As this visualization shows, the icy moon may look tiny next to our own planet, but it's got 2- to 3-times as much H2O as we have here on Earth. That "little" moon is packing quite the store of water — and with it, scientists think, a…
A new analysis of Cassini spacecraft data points to the distinct possibility that Saturn's icy moon Enceladus exhibits hydrothermal activity on its seafloor. It's a discovery that significantly bolsters the moon's status as a potentially habitable object.
If you're trying to be the most dominant life form in the cosmos, biology will only slow you down.
Should E.T. finally give Earth a ring, it's not only important to understand what the message says but why it is being sent, a speaker at a talk about extraterrestrials urged this week. This requires understanding about alien social behavior, which, one analyst argues, is an extension of alien biology.
Our planet has some pretty intense environments, ranging from dense ice to molten rock — and they all play host to some form of life. What do extremophiles — creatures that live in unimaginable conditions — tell us about the very nature, and limits, of life?
Science guy Bill Nye says the two logical places to search for alien life in our solar system are Mars and Europa, the smallest of Jupiter's four moons. Why Europa? Nye gets into some details in this interview with Big Think, but here's the gist: Water. Water water. Water, water water water water; water water water! …
It's generally agreed that liquid water and a stable atmosphere are the minimal requirements for life. But new research shows that oceans play a vital role in stabilizing and moderating climates on Earth-like planets.
An international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of a potentially-habitable Super-Earth around the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 832. Located 16 light-years from Earth, it's considered one of the closest and best habitable-world candidates so far.
Astronomers have developed a powerful new tool that could boost the search for extraterrestrial life.
It's a lot of speculation right now, but the buzz in a new NASA study is Pluto's largest moon (Charon) could have a cracked surface.
There may be as many as 100 million habitable worlds in the Milky Way. But just what, exactly, are the requirements for life? And what are the environmental extremes that life can handle? A new checklist for the habitability of exoplanets attempts to answer these questions.
Red dwarfs stars, the most common stars in the galaxy, are bathing planets in their habitable zones with potentially deadly stellar winds, a finding that could have an impact on finding life beyond Earth.
A recently-finished study of Kepler data is providing a new glimpse into the Milky Way's exoplanetary composition. Planets about one to four times the size of Earth appear to be typical around Sun-like stars. But researchers say we don't know yet whether they have the potential to harbour life.
When it comes to life on Earth, we're not sure if it came from the outside (transported by comets) or on the inside. A new theory focuses on the "interior " theory, saying that microbes could have evolved from non-living matter such as chemical compounds in minerals and gases.