An Earth-Sized Neighbor May Be the Most Important Exoplanet Yet

Astronomers have discovered a rocky, Earth-sized planet 39 light years from home—right in our cosmic backyard. With a surface temperature of 440 degrees Fahrenheit, GJ 1132b is more of an intergalactic furnace than a vacation prospect. Yet some are hailing it “the most important planet ever found outside our solar… »11/11/15 1:00pm11/11/15 1:00pm

Sorry, Alien Hunters: No Signs of Life From KIC 8462852

A few weeks back, the humans of planet Earth worked themselves into a frenzy over the possibility that the Kepler space telescope had discovered an alien megastructure. Since then, the astronomers behind the hubbub have had their heads down, hunting for the technobabble that might lend credence to the wild theory. »11/06/15 12:40pm11/06/15 12:40pm

What Are the Odds of an Alien Megastructure Blocking Light From a Distant Star?

A strange star located 1,500 light-years from Earth is exhibiting strange flickering behavior that’s leading some scientists to speculate that an alien megastructure is blocking the light. But what would such a structure be exactly and how likely is it that the Kepler space telescope has actually spotted one? »10/20/15 9:20am10/20/15 9:20am

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 5:00pm10/06/15 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