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Extraterrestrial Life

Papers
  1. $100 Million Search for Life on Other Planets (PBS.org)
      "Recent findings by NASA’s Kepler space telescope have revealed at least 10 percent of the stars in our Milky Way Galaxy harbor planets of nearly Earth size at lukewarm temperatures."

      " 'Technology allows much more sensitive searches than could be done before, and the latest instrumentation on the biggest telescopes will be able to hugely extend what’s been done,” said University of Cambridge cosmologist and astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees. “The chance of finding life has risen a billionfold when we realize that habitable planets aren’t rare, but there are literally billions of them in our galaxy.' " 07-15

  2. -001 Astronomers: Billions of "Earths" in Habitable Zone (CNN News)
      If you're trying to count how many planets could be candidates for harboring life in our galaxy, this might blow your mind: Scientists now say there could be billions of them."

      "Astronomers working with the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) HARPS instrument estimate that in our galaxy, there are tens of billions of rocky planets not so much bigger than Earth orbiting red dwarf stars within the habitable zones of those relatively cool stars. A habitable zone is the area in a star system where liquid water can exist on a planet's surface without boiling away or staying frozen." 03-12

  3. -01-20-16 Planet Mystery and Extraterrestrial Life (ABC News)
      " 'There is estimated to be in our galaxy alone a trillion planets. And we can see 100 billion galaxies,' Shostak said. 'It's believed that one in 10 stars may have a habitable world capable of supporting life.' " 01-16

  4. -07-23-15 NASA Finds a "Bigger, Older Cousin" to Earth (Time.com)
      "NASA has discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting around a star, which a NASA researcher called a 'bigger, older cousin to Earth.' " 07-15

  5. -Habitable Planet Found (Time.com)
      "Known as HD 40307g, it circles its home star once every 320 days or so, at a distance that puts it right in the star’s Goldilocks zone, where temperatures are not too cold or too hot but just right for water-based life like ours — if it happens to be there.Known as HD 40307g, it circles its home star once every 320 days or so, at a distance that puts it right in the star’s Goldilocks zone, where temperatures are not too cold or too hot but just right for water-based life like ours — if it happens to be there." 11-12

  6. -New Signs of Duplicate Earths (Science.Time.com)
      "Every week, it seems, astronomers announce a revolutionary exoplanet discovery — two plausibly habitable worlds orbiting a single star, for example, or a single planet orbiting two stars, or a planet no bigger than our Moon or an exoplanet right next door in the Alpha Centauri system. Each one is important in its own way, but the scientists also know that focusing exclusively on single discoveries is like looking at the individual pixels on a screen and ignoring the larger picture they’re painting. Now and again, therefore, they take a step back and consider what they can learn from everything they’ve found so far. The result can be a real eye-opener." 05-13

  7. A Key to Life on Other Planets? (Time.com)
      "What a team of scientists actually found, as described in a paper in Science, is what may be the oddest bacteria on Earth. These microbes live in hellish conditions in Mono Lake, a super-salty, alkaline, arsenic-rich body of water in eastern California that would be toxic to most organisms. But the new bug doesn't just thrive here: it uses arsenic in place of the standard phosphorus as a building block for its internal proteins and even its DNA — and nothing like that has ever been seen before."

      "It's never been shown that other kinds of life are impossible, though. For decades, for example, biologists have wondered if silicon could take the place of carbon, the basis of all life on Earth, in forming self-reproducing, information-carrying molecules like DNA." 12-10

  8. Ancient Solar System Promotes New Thinking About Alien Life (Huffington Post)
      "Scientists analyzing data from the Kepler space telescope have discovered a first: an Earth-size planet orbiting in the habitable zone of its parent star, researchers announced Thursday." 02-15

  9. Correct Star, Wrong Planet (MSNBC News)
      "Scientists earlier this year announced they had found a small, rocky planet located just far enough from its star to sustain liquid water on its surface, and thus possibly support life."

      "Turns out the scientists might have picked the right star for hosting a habitable world, but got the planet wrong. The world known as Gliese 581c is probably too hot to support liquid water or life, new computer models suggest, but conditions on its neighbor, Gliese 581d, might be just right." 06-07

  10. Earthshine (CNN News)
      "Current techniques only provide a rough characterization of giant exoplanets using today’s instrumentation and telescopes. Detecting water and oxygen in exoplanets is currently out of reach, and new telescopes and sensors will be needed to directly observe the characteristics of an exoplanet’s atmosphere."

      "In the meantime, scientists will continue explore earthshine in order to fine-tune theoretical models that could one day be used to determine if life is present on other planets." 02-12

  11. Extreme Life Forms Found Under Ice (USA Today)
      "The microbes thrive despite 8 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, 20% salinity in the brine and high concentrations of ammonia and sulfur. They likely live off of chemical reactions with hydrogen in the lake water. The lake and its unusual bugs, the researchers suggest, help show that life could survive elsewhere on frozen worlds beyond our own planet. According to the study, the find 'is a potential analog for habitats on other icy worlds,' such as Jupiter's moon Europa or Saturn's geyser-spewing moon Enceladus."

  12. Hawking Is Wrong: Finding Extraterrestrial Life Is Not Dangerous (Discovery.com)
      "I’ve mulled over these warnings and have converged on what I think are some simple truths, from a purely astronomical perspective. The bottom line is that I'm not losing any sleep worrying about awaking one morning to see an alien mothership hovering over Washington D.C." 05-10

  13. Hawking: Finding Extraterrestrial Life May Be Dangerous (CBS News)
      "If E.T. phones, hang up."

      "That's the implication from British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who said that while extraterrestrial life almost certainly exists, it could be dangerous for humans to interact with them." 04-10

  14. Kids' Science Challenge (SETI.org)
      "The SETI Institute's Education and Public Outreach (EPO) programs share the excitement of searching for life in the universe with people of all ages. Many folk are curious about our place in the universe: are we alone in the vast ocean of stars and galaxies?"

      "Curiosity motivates both exploration and learning in schools, science centers, colleges and universities." 05-10

  15. Most Earth-Like Planet Yet Found (CBS News)
      "Scientists analyzing data from the Kepler space telescope have discovered a first: an Earth-size planet orbiting in the habitable zone of its parent star, researchers announced Thursday." 04-14

  16. NASA Looks for Extraterrestrial Life (CNN News)
      "As NASA prepares to hunt for Earth-like planets in our corner of the Milky Way galaxy, there's new buzz that 'Star Trek's' vision of a universe full of life may not be that far-fetched."

      "In a paper published recently in the International Journal of Astrobiology, the researchers concluded that based on what they saw, at least 361 intelligent civilizations have emerged in the Milky Way since its creation, and as many as 38,000 may have formed." 02-09

  17. NASA Scientist: Extrterrestrial Life Will Be Found Soon (Huffington Post)
      "NASA's top scientist predicts that we'll find signs of alien life by 2025, with even stronger evidence for extraterrestrials in the years that follow." 04-10

  18. Our Galaxy May Have 20 Billion Earths (Science.Time.com)
      " 'Taken together, these adjustments yielded the new 20 billion Earth-like planet estimate. 'I do have to add a note of caution,' says Petigura. 'These planets are only Earth-like in terms of their size and the amount of energy they receive from their stars. We don’t know if they have rocky compositions, oceans of water, plate tectonics or life.' "

      "To answer the ultimate question of whether life exists beyond Earth, astronomers will have to go beyond statistics to identify an actual mirror Earth in our cosmic neighborhood, then scrutinize its atmosphere for gases like oxygen and methane, which could be telltale signs of biological activity. Those observations won’t be possible for years."

      "But at least they know that they’re not looking for something so vanishingly rare we’d never be likely to stumble on it. The Milky Way is evidently teeming with balmy, Earth-size planets. And unless nature is far more perverse than anyone expects, there’s got to be life on at least some of them." 11-13

  19. Potentially Habitable Planet Found (CBS News)
      "A potentially habitable alien planet — one that scientists say is the best candidate yet to harbor water, and possibly even life, on its surface — has been found around a nearby star. The planet is located in the habitable zone of its host star, which is a narrow circumstellar region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface." 02-12

  20. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Life (SETI.org)
  21. The Search for Life on Other Planets (CNN News)
      "So what it comes down to is this: While there may be other life out there, the reality is that the universe is such a big place, we’re not going for a visit to our celestial neighbors anytime soon." 11-11

  22. Trappist-1 Earth-Like Planets (Vox.com)
      " 'Maybe the most exciting thing here is that these seven planets are very well suited for detailed atmospheric study,' Gillon said. The James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2018, will have the ability to measure the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres. If the atmospheres contain telltale gases like ozone, oxygen, or methane, life could exist there. 'We can expect that in a few years, we will know a lot more about these [seven] planets,' Amaury Triaud, another of the paper’s co-authors, said." 02-17

  23. Two Earth-Sized Planets Discovered (Wall Street Journal)
      "Using NASA's Kepler space telescope, astronomers discovered two Earth-size planets orbiting a distant star--the smallest of all the thousands of alien worlds detected so far, Lee Hotz reports on the News Hub. Photo: NASA." 12-11

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