New Scale Pinpoints Most Life-Friendly Alien Planets 

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory have devised a new habitability index for judging how suitable alien planets might be for life. The point of the exercise is to help scientists prioritize future targets for close-ups from NASA’s yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope »10/06/15 5:00pmYesterday 5:00pm

What Kinds of Life Forms Could Actually Live on Mars?

Yesterday, NASA reignited our hopes of finding alien life when it announced the first direct evidence of liquid water on Mars. But before we start indulging in fantasies of space crabs and reptilian beings, we ought to remember that Mars is a frigid world with a thin atmosphere. And that raises an obvious question:… »9/29/15 1:30pm9/29/15 1:30pm

NASA Is Sending Bacteria to the Edge of Space to See if They Can Hitchhike to Mars

Discovering life on another planet, only to contaminate that world with our own pesky microbes, is one of NASA’s nightmare scenarios. To find out whether single-celled Earthlings can hitchhike to Mars and survive on the Red Planet’s surface, NASA is going to see how they like it 120,000 feet up.
»9/26/15 5:00pm9/26/15 5:00pm

First Oxygen Appeared On Earth Way Earlier Than We Realized

If you hopped in the Tardis and traveled back four billion years, you’d find yourself on a hot, miserable wasteland of a planet with nary an oxygen molecule to breathe. Earth used to be an asphyxiating hellscape, but over the eons, tiny green microbes filled the air with oxygen. New research finds they’ve been at it… »9/08/15 7:20pm9/08/15 7:20pm

Deep Sea Electricity May Have Kickstarted Life On Our Planet 

Curious about how life got started on Earth 3.8 billion years ago? Here’s a thought: Why not recreate ancient hydrothermal vents in the lab, and see if they produce enough juice to power a lightbulb? That, at least, is what a bunch of scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab decided to do—and the electrifying results are… »8/06/15 12:40pm8/06/15 12:40pm