Saturn’s moon Titan is a world of contrast; both eerily familiar and strikingly alien. Its calm seas and enormous sand dunes might remind you of Earth, until you learn that what’s flowing across Titan’s surface is not water, but liquid hydrocarbons. Titan’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere seems to have some of the…
If we ever get proof of past life on Mars, it’ll come in the form of biosignatures, fingerprints that could only have been left by living organisms. We’re a long way from finding that smoking gun evidence, but an analysis of silica minerals discovered by NASA’s Spirit rover pushes us one step closer. Because of their…
Saturn’s moon Titan is a frigid hellscape by Earth standards, but it’s also one of the most hopeful spots for discovering alien life in our solar system. A new scientific paper hints that conditions on Titan’s surface might be favorable for the chemistry of life to emerge.
Using some of the world’s most sophisticated telescopes, a pair of astronomers has discovered a first-of-its-kind organic molecule in an enormous star-forming cloud thousands of light years away. And it could shed light on one of most poorly-understood properties of life on Earth.
Mars may be a frigid, dusty wasteland today, but evidence is mounting that the Red Planet was warm and wet long ago. Future missions to Mars will seek out signs of life from that livelier era—and a recent geologic analysis has revealed where we should begin our search.
If a massive solar storm struck the Earth today, it could wipe out our technology and hurl us back to the dark ages. Lucky for us, events like this are quite rare. But four billion years ago, extreme space weather was probably the norm. And rather than bringing the apocalypse, it might have kickstarted life.
The case that we’re all just highly organized lumps of space candy keeps getting better. For the first time, scientists have created ribose—the key sugar underlying RNA—in laboratory conditions simulating the cold, radiation-blasted vacuum of outer space.
The ancient Earth was a pretty miserable place. But from this eruptive, radiation-blasted, asteroid-pummeled wasteland, life did arise. Now, scientists have uncovered a tantalizing clue that Earth’s first hardy colonizers appeared much earlier than we thought.
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…
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…
It's rare for meteorites falling to Earth to remain intact—only five to ten make it each year—but the ones that do could contain the secrets of the universe or, even better, clues about the origins of life. And it looks like the meteorite that lit up the California sky last year did just that.
How did a bunch of lifeless molecules transform themselves into living cells, turning the ancient, dead Earth into a planet teeming with life? It's an incredibly difficult question to answer, but a new model might explain part of the story.
The origin of life on Earth poses a basic paradox: basic biochemicals like nucleotides and catalysts like proteins need each other to exist, but one must have come first. We may now have an answer, thanks to the transition metals.
Are asteroids responsible for the creation of life on Earth? Recent experiments back up a theory that the basic ingredients for life came from beyond the stars... which makes us all aliens. Battlestar Galactica was right!