Life

Mimas has an ocean under the surface too Enceladus

Mimas has an ocean under the surface too

Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan have one, as do Jupiter's moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europa and the dwarf planet Pluto: a liquid ocean beneath their icy surfaces. Perhaps the same is true of Saturn's moon Mimas, as a Southwest Research Institute scientist suspects. Dr. Alyssa Rhoden, a specialist in the geophysics of icy satellites, actually set out to prove that Saturn's tiny, innermost moon is a frozen, inert satellite. Instead, she found evidence that the moon also has a liquid inner ocean. One of the most fundamental discoveries of the past 25 years in planetary science is that worlds…
Earth cools faster Life

Earth cools faster

Earth is hot: up to 3500 degrees Celsius (6300 °F) in the mantle, 5000 degrees Celsius (9000 °F) in the outer core and 6000 °C (10,800 °F) in the (solid) inner core. This brings us some advantages. Not only us, but all life on Earth. There is, for example, the magnetic field, which is fueled by iron currents in the outer core and protects us from cosmic radiation. But also plate tectonics, which not only gives us mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, but has also favored the emergence of complex life forms. If it stops at some point, erosion will…
Ice belts at the equator are more common than ice caps at the poles Life

Ice belts at the equator are more common than ice caps at the poles

We like to go south, towards the equator, to escape the cold. At the two poles of the earth there is permanent frost and ice. In terms of the entire universe, this is by no means the rule, as astronomers have discovered in a scientific work. To do so, a team from the University of Washington and the University of Bern computationally simulated more than 200,000 hypothetical Earth-like worlds - planets that have the same size, mass, atmospheric composition and geography as modern Earth - all in orbit around stars similar to our Sun, a G-type star. So they…
Planets with an eggshell Life

Planets with an eggshell

ou open the airlock door. Your first step onto the surface of a new planet! It is hot, but your spacesuit protects you. A thin layer of clouds hides the sun. But something is wrong. You climb down the ladder. What is it? You spin around your axis. Wherever you look, the horizon is the same distance away. This planet has no elevations at all. It is as if you are standing on the outside of an eggshell. Such planets probably really exist. "Eggshell planets," a recent study shows, are to be expected in a solar system under certain…
Superflares may not be that dangerous for planets Life

Superflares may not be that dangerous for planets

In "Proxima Rising," the planet Proxima b and its inhabitants become victims of an eruption of the central red dwarf, a superflares. Astronomers have long suspected that such radiation bursts can permanently damage the atmospheres - and thus the habitability - of exoplanets. A new study published Aug. 5 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society may now give the all-clear. Using optical observations from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite - TESS for short - the team, led by astronomers from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, studied large superflares on red dwarfs, a class of young, small…
Interesting planetary system in our neighborhood Life

Interesting planetary system in our neighborhood

At a distance of 34 light-years, the red dwarf L98-59 belongs to the closer neighborhood of the solar system. The fact that three rocky planets orbit it was discovered two years ago by the planet hunter TESS. The three inner planets are relatively close to their parent star. It is probably too warm there for life. The innermost planet is only about half the size of our Venus and thus one of the smallest planets discovered so far. Technically, it is easier to find large and heavy planets than small and light ones, so the true distribution of planet…
Water vapor on Ganymede Life

Water vapor on Ganymede

Jupiter's moon Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system and, at 5262 km in diameter, is even larger than the planet Mercury. But while the planet closest to the sun is dry and hot, Ganymede is the complete opposite. The moon harbors more water than all the Earth's oceans combined. However, because it orbits so far from the Sun, most of the water is frozen. All of it? No. At a depth of 160 kilometers, there is a liquid ocean beneath the icy crust, warmed by the gravitational pull of the gas giant Jupiter. But even on…
New signs of life from Enceladus Enceladus

New signs of life from Enceladus

In the geysers at Enceladus' south pole, the hypothetical probe "Enceladus Life Finder" detects clear signs of life in my book "The Enceladus Mission" - whereupon a crewed spacecraft, the ILSE, is sent to Saturn's moon. But it all really starts with Cassini, the NASA-ESA mission that found a relatively high concentration of certain molecules associated with hydrothermal vents at the bottom of Earth's oceans, specifically hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide, just there. The amount of methane found in the vapor plumes was particularly unexpected. "We wanted to know: Could Earth-like microbes that 'eat' the hydrogen and produce methane…