New Bio-Marking Chemicals Will Help Find Earth's Twin
In the search for planets beyond our solar system that could support life, scientists have drawn up a more specific list of bio-signature chemicals, including sulfur gases and ethane.
What's the Latest Development?
In the search for life beyond Earth, the discovery of planets outside our solar system has been monumental. NASA's Kepler spacecraft has found more than 700 such exoplanets and now, scientists are honing the chemistry behind the search for extraterrestrial life. As part of that process, astronomers will concentrate their search for planets on M dwarf stars, which are smaller, cooler and more frequent than stars like the sun. When planets pass in front of their parent stars, scientists can measure the chemical composition of planets' atmospheres by measuring how the star's light filters through it.
What's the Big Idea?
Because M dwarf stars are cooler, planets in the habitable zone, where liquid water can exist, will be closer to their parent star. This means more frequent transits across the star's surface and more opportunities for scientists to measure how light interacts with the planet's surface. Scientists know that substantial amounts of bio-signature gases like ozone or oxygen, methane and nitrous oxide, affect how light refracts off the planet. But scientists are also widening their field of vision, looking for chemicals such as sulfur gases and ethane, which could support single-celled bacteria before plentiful supplies of oxygen exist.
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Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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