science
Our Universe Could be Littered With Alien Viruses — and We Should be Looking for Them

It’s generally agreed that some kind of microbe will be the first form of life we discover on another planet, moon, or other space rock. But hardly anyone thinks we’ll find an alien virus, which is weird, given how prolific and successful these biological entities are on Earth. A new study seeks to correct this oversight, calling for an entirely new discipline known as “astrovirology.” Read More >>

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How Aliens We’ve Never Met Could Help Humanity Escape Self-Destruction

Humans have had such a dramatic impact on Earth that some scientists say we’ve kickstarted a new geological era known as the Anthropocene. A fascinating new paper theorises that alien civilisations could do the same thing, reshaping their homeworlds in predictable and potentially detectable ways. The authors are proposing a new classification scheme that measures the degree to which planets have been modified by intelligent hosts. Read More >>

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Hubble Observations Suggest Water May Be Abundant on Outer TRAPPIST-1 Planets

From the moment that seven Earth-sized planets were discovered in orbit around TRAPPIST-1—an ultracool dwarf star located 39 light years away—astronomers have been busy trying to learn everything they can about this intriguing star system, particularly its potential to foster life. Recently, an international team of scientists used the Hubble Space Telescope to assess the chances of water existing on these planets—and the results are promising. Read More >>

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Massive Tides Could Boost TRAPPIST-1’s Prospects For Life

Earlier this year, Earthlings rejoiced when scientists announced the discovery of three rocky exoplanets in the habitable zone of TRAPPIST-1, an “ultracool dwarf” star located just 39 light years away. Soon after, astronomers brought us back down Earth, pointing out that it might be hard for life to survive on a world in such a tight orbit around such a dim star. But the debate has now taken yet another delicious twist, this time, in favour of aliens. Read More >>

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Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Has Toxic Booze on its Breath

You think you have it rough because you spent the weekend eating tequila-soaked watermelon? That’s Juicy Juice compared to what Saturn’s moon Enceladus has been steeping itself in. Astronomers have spotted the organic molecule methanol surrounding the icy moon. Methanol, in case you forgot, is a highly toxic form of alcohol that can literally leave you blind—but after millions of years, we’d wager Enceladus’ tolerance is pretty high. Read More >>

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Will Intelligent Aliens Actually Give a Shit About Us?

With Ridley Scott’s latest instalment in his classic Alien franchise, now’s the perfect time to wildly speculate about extraterrestrials. In Alien: Covenant and so many other movies like it, our cosmic neighbours turn out to be real arseholes. They’re always trying to conquer Earth, or eat humans, or do other weird shit, like hunt Arnold Schwarzenegger in the jungle. If you’re not Arnold Schwarzenegger, this usually ends pretty badly. Read More >>

science
These Flowers Hold Clues to Spreading Life Beyond Earth

It feels like we’re constantly searching for a friend out there in the cosmos, only to be repeatedly disappointed. But what if, in our quest to discover life beyond Earth, we’ve overlooking a more important question? What if the question we should really be asking is, how do we ensure life spreads beyond Earth? Read More >>

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Astronomer Wonders If We’ve Looked Hard Enough for Signs of Long Extinct Alien Life

Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus is the latest target in the perennial excitement around finding extraterrestrial life. Its warm subterranean ocean is thought to contain all the right ingredients to harbour alien microbes, which would arguably be the biggest scientific discovery in human history. While finding microbes—even biosignatures on places like Mars—would be incredible, perhaps we’re overlooking something critical in the search for life in our solar system, specifically intelligent life. Take that, tiny microbes. Read More >>

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Most Habitable Earth-Like Planets May Be Waterworlds

Over 70 per cent of our planet is covered in water, and we tend to think that’s a lot. A new study suggests that our world is special in this regard, and that most habitable planets are dominated by oceans that consume over 90 per cent their surface area. That may be good for primitive marine life, but not so good for aspiring civilisations. Read More >>

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More Evidence That Aliens Aren’t Trying to Communicate With Us

Some SETI researchers believe the best way to detect aliens is to search the skies for their laser beams. In the largest survey of its kind, astronomers scanned 5,600 stars in search of these optical signals—and they found...absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. Here’s what that means to SETI and the ongoing hunt for alien intelligence. Read More >>

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The Prospects for Life on TRAPPIST-1 Keep Getting Better

Less than a week ago, the citizens of Earth were introduced (technically, re-introduced) to a star system 39 light years away hosting seven Earth-sized exoplanets, three of which lie squarely in the habitable zone. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, researchers are now suggesting that a fourth of the TRAPPIST-1 planets might be habitable, too—if we stretch our imaginations a bit. Read More >>

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This Promising New Tool Can Help Us Find Life on Europa

If alien life is out there in our solar system, it’s probably very small and very hard to detect, buried deep beneath the surface of an icy moon. But, rejoice alien seekers: a new test developed by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory could improve our chances of spotting extraterrestrial microbes and ending our cosmic loneliness once and for all. Read More >>

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Our Next Trip to Saturn Will Be to Search For Alien Life

As the Cassini spacecraft executes its final daredevil manoeuvres, scientists on both sides of the Atlantic are already thinking about the next mission to Saturn. But this time around, nobody’s talking about studying the gas giant itself. They’re talking about hunting for life in Saturn’s rings. Read More >>

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NASA Didn’t Find Life on Mars—But It Did Find Something Very Cool

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 similarity to silica deposits shaped by microbial life on Earth, these intriguing Martian minerals are now being called a “potential biosignature.” Read More >>

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Another One of Saturn’s Moons May Have a Global Ocean

The evidence is mounting that our solar system is rife with oceans. Last week, scientists reported that Pluto could have an insanely deep liquid water swimming pool beneath its surface, and on Monday, NASA revealed new evidence for geyser activity on icy Europa. Now, another frozen moon is poised to join the club of outer space scuba retreats: Dione. Read More >>