“Planet Earth Report” provides descriptive links to headline news by leading science journalists about the extraordinary discoveries, technology, people, and events changing our knowledge of Planet Earth and the future of the human species.
Could one of Earth’s most intelligent species be an alien, ‘seeded’ on the planet by an interstellar genetic code? Scientists speculate that the clue might be found in the ancient precursor to life, RNA.
In the blink of a geological eye, nearly 600 million years ago, a massive ice age radically altered the planet’s climate, resulting in a “Snowball Earth,” also known as the Cryogenian Period, severely constricting the oxygen supply on the planet. Scientists at the University of Southampton have proposed that changes in Earth’s orbit may have allowed complex life to emerge and thrive during the most hostile climate episode the planet has ever experienced.
“Modern metabolism has a precursor, a template, that was non-biological,” says biochemist Greg Springsteen at Furman University.
Scientists have long speculated that Juptiter’s moon Europa has an icy crust covering a vast, global ocean –what Caltech’s Mike Brown describes as a “miniature Earth” ocean. The rocky layer underneath may be hot enough to melt, leading to undersea volcanoes.