NASA’s Search for Extraterrestrial Life in the Universe –“The Next Ten Years”





"Everything that we believe was necessary for life to begin on Earth is now known to be ubiquitous throughout our galaxy and beyond. Knowing that extraterrestrial life could exist, the race is on to discover whether or not it, in fact, does exist."

Nearly 14 billion years ago, our universe was born from a swirling quantum soup, in a spectacular and dynamic event known as the \big bang." After several hundred million years, the first stars lit up the cosmos, and many hundreds of millions of years later, the remnants of countless stellar explosions coalesced into the first planetary systems. Somehow, through a process still not understood, the laws of physics guiding the unfolding of our universe gave rise to self-replicating organisms – life. Yet more perplexing, this life eventually evolved a capacity to know its universe, to study it, and to question its own existence. Did this happen many times? If it did, how? If it didn't, why?


Water on the Moon –“The Asteroid Delivery System”






At the beginning of the space age, during the days of the Apollo program, scientists believed the moon to be completely dry. At these earliest stages in satellite evolution, the absence of an atmosphere and the influence of solar radiation were thought enough to evaporate all volatile substances into space. However, in the1990s, scientists obtained data from the Lunar Prospector probe that shook their confidence: the neutron current from the satellite surface was indicative of a larger fraction of hydrogen at the near-surface soil of some regions of the moon, which one could interpret as a sign of the presence of water.


Beyond the Higgs: Nature’s Top Quark Hints the “Universe Could Suddenly Collapse”





A stable universe is one in a low energy state where particles and forces interact and behave according to theoretical predictions forever. That’s in contrast to metastable, or unstable, meaning a higher energy state in which things eventually change, or change suddenly and unpredictably, and that could result in the universe collapsing. The Higgs and top quark are the two most important parameters for determining an answer to that question. Recent measurements of the Higgs and top quark indicate they describe a universe that is not necessarily stable at all energies.


Global Warming News: “Communicating Via Electrons Help Deep Sea Microbes Gulp Methane”



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Good communication is crucial to any relationship, especially when partners are separated by distance. This also holds true for microbes in the deep sea that need to work together to consume large amounts of methane released from vents on the ocean floor. Recent work at Caltech has shown that these microbial partners can still accomplish this task, even when not in direct contact with one another, by using electrons to share energy over long distances. This is the first time that direct interspecies electron transport—the movement of electrons from a cell, through the external environment, to another cell type—has been documented in microorganisms in nature.


Top Candidates for Alien Life: “Rocky Planets With Magnetic Fields Orbiting Small Stars”





A planet's magnetic field emanates from its core and is thought to deflect the charged particles of the stellar wind, protecting the atmosphere from being lost to space. Magnetic fields, born from the cooling of a planet's interior, could also protect life on the surface from harmful radiation, as the Earth's magnetic field protects us.


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