It marks the first time a plant has been grown on the moon.
- In January, China became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon.
- Chang'e-4 lunar rover carried among its payload a small biosphere that housed six lifeforms, including cotton seeds.
- Using data from that biosphere experiment, researchers constructed a digital image of the cotton plant that reveals it grew two leaves before dying from the cold.
Some scientists think there may be a hidden, second form of life living right under our noses.
- All life on Earth shares some basic characteristics, such as being carbon-based; using DNA, RNA, and proteins to function; and so on.
- Many of these characteristics are simply the only ones that could work in Earth's environment, but there are also a surprising number of seemingly arbitrary features of life.
- Under the shadow biosphere theory, some scientists argue that alternative forms of life exist right here on Earth, undetected simply because we don't know to look for them.
Scientists say it might even rain on the exoplanet, dubbed K2-18b.
- Two new studies, from independent teams of researchers, say that it's extremely likely that the exoplanet's atmosphere contains water vapor.
- Scientists are able to make these kinds of determinations by pointing telescopes at distant stars and measuring subtle changes in light as exoplanets pass in front of the star.
- Scientists will likely get a better look at K2-18b when NASA launches the powerful James Webb Space Telescope in 2021.
Tardigrades – commonly called "water bears" – were among the payload of an Israeli lunar lander that crashed into the moon in April.
- An Israeli spacecraft carrying tiny animals called tardigrades crashed onto the moon in April.
- It's unclear whether humans would be able to revive the tardigrades, which were in a dehydrated state.
- Tardigrades have a unique protein that enables them to survive intense levels of radiation.
We may find signs of life a mere 31 light-years away.
- The TESS satellite recently identified a nearby super-Earth sitting in the habitable zone of its star.
- TESS isn't equipped to make the sensitive measurements necessary to characterize the planet's atmosphere, but models suggest the planet could have running water, a major indicator that it can host life.
- The upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will be able to look at this planet in greater detail and assess whether life exists on it or not.