Life Detector…

An Orbitrap cell. Credit: Ricardo Arevalo Topics: Astrobiology, Astronautics, Biology, Laser, NASA, Planetary Science, Space Exploration As space missions delve deeper into the outer solar system, the need for more compact, resource-conserving, and accurate analytical tools have become increasingly critical—especially as the hunt for extraterrestrial life and habitable planets or moons continues. A University ofContinue reading “Life Detector…”

Martians and Vulcans…

Topics: Astrobiology, Astrophysics, Civilization, Existentialism, Philosophy, Special Relativity The Cold War was a genesis of angst about the future due to the detonation of the atomic bomb by the Soviet Union in Kazakstan in 1949. After WWII (WWI was originally called, “the war to END all wars,” until the sequel), the existential nervousness is understandable.Continue reading “Martians and Vulcans…”

From Redshift to Enlightenment…

Topics: Astrobiology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Carl Sagan, James Webb Space Telescope, SETI The relief was as deep as the stakes were high. At 7:20 A.M. (ET), the rocket carrying the largest, most ambitious space telescope in history cleared the launchpad in French Guiana, and the members of mission control at the Space Telescope Science Institute inContinue reading “From Redshift to Enlightenment…”

Life As We Don’t Know It…

Topics: Astrobiology, Philosophy, SETI, Space Exploration In my freshman seminar at Harvard last semester, I mentioned that the nearest star to the sun, Proxima Centauri, emits mostly infrared radiation and has a planet, Proxima b, in the habitable zone around it. As a challenge to the students, I asked: “Suppose there are creatures crawling on the surfaceContinue reading “Life As We Don’t Know It…”

Yonder Water Worlds…

Topics: Astrobiology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Exoplanets, Space Exploration Hot, ocean-covered exoplanets with hydrogen-rich atmospheres could harbor life and may be more common than planets that are Earth-like in size, temperature, and atmospheric composition. According to astronomers at the University of Cambridge, UK, this newly defined class of exoplanets could boost the search for life elsewhere inContinue reading “Yonder Water Worlds…”

Interstellar Cellular Membranes…

Topics: Astrobiology, Biology, Chemistry, Cosmology The origin of life is one of the great unanswered questions in science. One piece of this puzzle is that life started on Earth 4.5 billion years ago, just a few hundred million years after the formation of the Solar System, and involved numerous critical molecular components. How did allContinue reading “Interstellar Cellular Membranes…”

Panspermia…

Topics: Astrobiology, Biology, Cosmology, SETI Life, for all its complexities, has a simple commonality: It spreads. Plants, animals, and bacteria have colonized almost every nook and cranny of our world. But why stop there? Some scientists speculate that biological matter may have proliferated across the cosmos itself, transported from planet to planet on wayward lumpsContinue reading “Panspermia…”

The Question is Moot…

Topics: Astrobiology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, SETI Cultural references: The post title refers to NC A&T Alumni, and Civil Rights icon Reverend Jesse Jackson’s appearance on Saturday Night Live, and the Wow! signal. Personal note: This signal appeared on the same day my granddaughter was born. On April 29, 2019, the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia beganContinue reading “The Question is Moot…”