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Using Earth’s history to inform the search for life on exoplanets

UC Riverside is leading one of the NASA Astrobiology Program’s eight new research teams tackling questions about the evolution and origins of life on Earth and the possibility of life beyond our solar system. The teams comprise the inaugural class of NASA’s Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research program. The UCR-led team is motivated by the...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

Venus might be habitable today, if not for Jupiter

Venus might not be a sweltering, waterless hellscape today if Jupiter hadn’t altered its orbit around the sun, according to new UC Riverside research. Jupiter has a mass that is two-and-a-half times that of all other planets in our solar system — combined. Because it is comparatively gigantic, it has the ability to disturb other...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

Surprising number of exoplanets could host life

Our solar system has one habitable planet — Earth. A new study shows other stars could have as many as seven Earth-like planets in the absence of a gas giant like Jupiter. This is the conclusion of a study led by UC Riverside astrobiologist Stephen Kane published this week in the Astronomical Journal. The search...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

Newly discovered planet zips around baby star in a week

Understanding how planets form is one of the main challenges scientists face when placing our own and other planetary systems in context. Planets are thought to form from the disk-shaped clouds of gas and dust that surround newborn stars, but this process has never been observed. Astronomers normally only observe planets after they have already...
By Holly Ober | UCR News |

Ancient meteorite site on Earth could reveal new clues about Mars’ past

Scientists have devised new analytical tools to break down the enigmatic history of Mars’ atmosphere — and whether life was once possible there. A paper detailing the work was published today in the journal Science Advances. It could help astrobiologists understand the alkalinity, pH and nitrogen content of ancient waters on Mars, and by extension...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

Scientists develop new method to detect oxygen on exoplanets

Scientists have developed a new method for detecting oxygen in exoplanet atmospheres that may accelerate the search for life. One possible indication of life, or biosignature, is the presence of oxygen in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. Oxygen is generated by life on Earth when organisms such as plants, algae, and cyanobacteria use photosynthesis to convert sunlight...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

UCR scientists rank among world’s most influential scholars

The world’s most influential scientific researchers in 2019 include 10 current UCR scholars. In its annual list, Clarivate Analytics names the most highly cited researchers — those whose work was most often referenced by other scientific research papers for the preceding decade in 21 fields across the sciences and social sciences. The 2019 list is...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

The most spectacular celestial vision you’ll never see

Contrary to previous thought, a gigantic planet in wild orbit does not preclude the presence of an Earth-like planet in the same solar system – or life on that planet. What’s more, the view from that Earth-like planet as its giant neighbor moves past would be unlike anything it is possible to view in our...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

Experts on the Salton Sea

For fast access to experts, TEXT or call the 24-hour-experts hotline at 951-312-3049, or email news@ucr.edu Salton Sea Emma Aronson: Associate professor of microbiology and plant pathology. Microbiome of the Salton Sea; microbial ecology of dust; wind- transported microorganisms; environmental microbiology; soil microbial ecology. emma.aronson@ucr.edu Roya Bahreini: Associate professor of atmospheric science. Aerosol sources and...
By UCR News |

NASA’s TESS mission finds ‘missing link’ planets

NASA’s newest planet-hunting satellite has discovered a type of planet missing from our own solar system. Launched in 2018, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, has found three new worlds around a neighboring star. Stephen Kane, a UC Riverside associate professor of planetary astrophysics, says the new star system, called TESS Object of Interest...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

Campus to celebrate 50th anniversary of historic Moon landing

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon mission. To celebrate, the University of California, Riverside, is hosting a free public event on Thursday, July 11, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the Apollo 11 legacy, as well as current missions to our solar-system’s planets...
By Iqbal Pittalwala | UCR News |

Star tours

Astronomers have a new tool in their search for extraterrestrial life – a sophisticated bot that helps identify stars hosting planets similar to Jupiter and Saturn. These giant planets’ faraway twins may protect life in other solar systems, but they aren’t bright enough to be viewed directly. Scientists find them based on properties they can...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

New study dramatically narrows the search for advanced life in the universe

RIVERSIDE, CA – Scientists may need to rethink their estimates for how many planets outside our solar system could host a rich diversity of life. In a new study, a UC Riverside–led team discovered that a buildup of toxic gases in the atmospheres of most planets makes them unfit for complex life as we know...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

Meteor magnets in outer space

Astronomers believe planets like Jupiter shield us from space objects that would otherwise slam into Earth. Now they’re closer to learning whether giant planets act as guardians of solar systems elsewhere in the galaxy. A UCR-led team has discovered two Jupiter-sized planets about 150 light years away from Earth that could reveal whether life is...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News |

Carbon monoxide detectors could warn of extraterrestrial life

Carbon monoxide detectors in our homes warn of a dangerous buildup of that colorless, odorless gas we normally associate with death. Astronomers, too, have generally assumed that a build-up of carbon monoxide in a planet’s atmosphere would be a sure sign of lifelessness. Now, a UC Riverside-led research team is arguing the opposite: celestial carbon...
By Sarah Simpson | UCR News |

New NASA research consortium to tackle life's origins

Did life on Earth originate in Darwin's warm little pond, on a sunbaked shore, or where hot waters vent into the deep ocean? And could a similar emergence have played out on other bodies in our solar system or planets far beyond? These questions lie at the center of research in NASA's new Prebiotic Chemistry...
By PCE3 Consortium | UCR News |

Omega centauri unlikely to harbor life

Searching for life in the vast universe is an overwhelming task, but scientists can cross one place off their list. Omega Centauri — a densely packed cluster of stars in our galactic backyard — is unlikely to be home to habitable planets, according to a study by scientists at the University of California, Riverside, and...
By Sarah Nightingale | UCR News |

UCR team among scientists developing guidebook for finding life beyond earth

If you’re looking for a manual on the hunt for alien life, you’re in luck. Some of the leading experts in the field, including a UC Riverside team of researchers, have written a major series of review papers on the past, present, and future of the search for life on other planets. Published in Astrobiology...
By Sarah Nightingale | UCR News |

Distant moons may harbor life

We’ve all heard about the search for life on other planets, but what about looking on other moons? In a paper forthcoming in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers at the University of California, Riverside and the University of Southern Queensland have identified more than 100 giant planets that potentially host moons capable of supporting life. Their...
By Sarah Nightingale | UCR News |

Search for life beyond the solar system topic of faculty research lecture

Timothy Lyons, a distinguished professor of biogeochemistry in the Department of Earth Sciences and director of the Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center, will deliver the 66th annual Faculty Research Lecture at UC Riverside. The Faculty Research Lecturer Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Academic Senate. The lecture, “Are We Alone? A Geologist’s Journey from...
By Sarah Nightingale | UCR News |
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