“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.
“We use special telescopes to catch X-ray light in the sky, and while looking at these X-rays, the telescopes noticed an unexpected feature and captured a spectrum of light, which is not produced by any known atomic emission,” said University of Miami astrophysicist Nico Cappelluti about a signal first detected in 2014. “This emission line is now called the 3.5 kiloelectron volt (keV). One interpretation of this emission line is that it’s produced by the decay of dark matter.”
“For all we know, if galactic radiation-emitting civilizations exist, they could be located anywhere in the Milky Way. A signal reaching Earth could thus be as old as about 90,000 years, that is the time it takes for electromagnetic waves to cover the distance between us and the opposite edge of our galaxy, and this time span becomes even larger if we take into account signals from other galaxies. It is thus not unreasonable to think that, at the time we receive a signal, the emitting civilization no longer exist,” wrote Claudio Grimaldi, guest scientist at the Laboratory of Statistical Biophysics (LBS), Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland in an email to The Daily Galaxy.
Jupiter’s moon Europa and its global ocean may currently have conditions suitable for life. Scientists are studying processes on the icy surface as they prepare to explore.“The radiation that bombards Europa’s surface leaves a fingerprint,” said Kevin Hand, project scientist for the Europa Lander mission in a 2018 study. “If we know what that fingerprint looks like, we can better understand the nature of any organics and possible biosignatures that might be detected with future missions, be they spacecraft that fly by or land on Europa.”
Recent research has revealed that Venus might have looked like Earth for three billion years, with vast oceans that could have been friendly to life. The early Venusian atmosphere was thinner and the young Sun was emitting less radiation, putting Venus in the habitable zone. There is a real possibility that Venus might have been the first habitable planet in our solar system and radically different from the Venus we see today.
“We have seen Jupiter producing X-ray aurora for four decades, but we didn’t know how this happened. We only knew they were produced when ions crashed into the planet’s atmosphere,” says William Dunn at the University College London (UCL) Mullard Space Science Laboratory about the eerie, electric-blue curtains of light glowing one half billion miles away on the gas giant.
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.