Hubble Uses Earth as a Proxy for Identifying Oxygen on Potentially Habitable Planets Around Other Stars

This illustration shows the Hubble Space Telescope superimposed on an image of the Moon, seen during a lunar eclipse. Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse in January 2019, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have detected ozone in Earth’s atmosphere. This method serves as a proxy for how they will observe Earth-like planets transiting in front of other stars in search of life. Our planet’s perfect alignment with the Sun and Moon during a total lunar eclipse mimics the geometry of a transiting terrestrial planet with its star. In a new study, Hubble did not look at Earth directly. Instead, astronomers used the Moon as a mirror that reflects the sunlight transmitted through Earth’s atmosphere, which was then captured by Hubble. This is the first time a total lunar eclipse was captured at ultraviolet wavelengths and from a space telescope. (Credits: M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), NASA, and ESA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have detected Earth’s own brand of sunscreen – ozone – in our atmosphere. This method simulates how astronomers and astrobiology researchers will search for evidence of life beyond Earth by observing potential “biosignatures” on exoplanets  (planets around other stars).

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NYUAD Astrophysicist Investigates the Possibility of Life Below the Surface of Mars

This illustration depicts a lake of water partially filling Mars’ Gale Crater. It would have been filled by runoff from snow melting on the crater’s northern rim. Evidence of ancient streams, deltas, and lakes that NASA’s Curiosity rover has found in the patterns of sedimentary deposits in Gale suggests the crater held a lake like this one more than three billion years ago, filling and drying in multiple cycles over tens of millions of years. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS)

ABU DHABI, UAE, July 28, 2020 (NYU Abu Dhabi PR) — Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu Dhabi, Dimitra Atri finds that conditions below the surface could potentially support it.

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NASA FDL Leverages Public/Private Partnership to Push New Boundaries of Space Science with Artificial Intelligence


AI Accelerator to Focus on Key Challenges in Space Resources, Astrobiology, Space Weather, And Exoplanets to Benefit the Space Program and Humanity

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (SETI Institute/NASA PR) — The NASA Frontier Development Lab (FDL) has announced it will apply artificial intelligence (AI) to four key space challenges. FDL is an AI/machine learning research accelerator powered by a public/private partnership between NASA, the SETI Institute, commercial leaders in AI, and pioneers in the private space industry.

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Space Review Looks at HLV, Astrobiology and Baseball

Jupiter Direct Launcher Variants

This week in The Space Review…

Can NASA develop a heavy-lift rocket?
Last week the debate on how NASA should develop a heavy-lift rocket restarted after NASA submitted a report indicating its preferred design would not fit into the budget and schedule of its authorization act. Jeff Foust reports on the issues regarding the technology, budget, and even utility of a heavy-lifter raised in that debate.

Small ball or home runs: the changing ethos of US human spaceflight policy
Past efforts to develop big human spaceflight programs patterned after Apollo have failed, most recently NASA’s implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration. Roger Handberg uses a sports analogy to explain why it’s time to turn to a more sustainable approach to human space exploration.

Funding the search for life in the solar system
Advances in astrobiology have expanded the range of potential sites in the solar system that could support life. Lou Friedman discusses how to make it possible to afford exploring all those sites.

Footnotes of shuttle history: the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite
One of the lesser-known payloads launched by the space shuttle was an experimental communications satellite. Dwayne Day describes how ACTS was part of a larger but now dated debate about industrial policy.

The flight of the Big Bird (part 1)
Development of the KH-9 spy satellite, often referred to in the media as “Big Bird”, has been shrouded in secrecy for decades, but new details are emerging. Dwayne Day examines the early history of the KH-9, including tensions between the NRO and CIA, in the first of a two-part article.











NASA Discovers Arsenic-Based Life; Profound Effect on Search for ET

Geomicrobiologist Felisa Wolfe-Simon, collecting lake-bottom sediments in the shallow waters of Mono Lake in California. Wolfe-Simon cultured the arsenic-utilizing organisms from this hypersaline and highly alkaline environment. Credit: ©2010 Henry Bortman

NASA PRESS RELEASE

NASA-funded astrobiology research has changed the fundamental knowledge about what comprises all known life on Earth.

Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.

“The definition of life has just expanded,” said Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it.”

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NASA to Announce Big Astrobiology Discovery

NASA ANNOUNCEMENT

NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

The news conference will be held at the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. It will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency’s website at http://www.nasa.gov.

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