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Atmospheric seasons could signal alien life

Dozens of potentially habitable planets have been discovered outside our solar system, and many more are awaiting detection. Is anybody — or anything — there? The hunt for life in these places, which are impossible to visit in person, will begin with a search for biological products in their atmospheres. These atmospheric fingerprints of life...

UC Riverside astrophysicist part of TESS planet finder team

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched on April 18 from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, rising off the pad aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:51 p.m. PDT and deploying into Earth’s orbit 49 minutes later. Stephen Kane, an associate professor of planetary astrophysics at UC Riverside and a Guest Investigator on...

'Nature Astronomy' features false negatives

'Nature Astronomy' featured findings from the recent 'Astrobiology' paper, authored by Alternative Earths team members Chris Reinhard (GT), Stephanie Olson (UCR), Eddie Schwieterman (UCR) and Tim Lyons (UCR). The study showed that points in Earth's atmospheric history may have rendered a 'false negative,' that is, the lack of a detectable biosignature despite biological activity. Improving...

'NBC News' highlights false negatives study

Recently published in 'Astrobiology', research by Alternative Earths members Chris Reinhard (GT), Stephanie Olson (UCR), Eddie Schwieterman (UCR) and Tim Lyons (UCR) was featured in on the 'NBC News' site, after gaining public recognition in 'Inside Science'. 'NBC News: Storyline' .article-header-image { display: none !important } [title="nbc news"] { width: 100%; max-width: 300px; margin: 0...

AbSciCon 2017: Diverse life and its detection on different worlds

The Alternative Earths team participated in force, with many speakers and attendees, at this year's Astrobiology Science Conference, which took place in Mesa, Arizona. The week-long event featured talks in interdisciplinary research fields, from genetics to geochemistry and habitability. Seminar Archive Full Program .article-header-image { display: none !important } [title="AbSciCon 2017"] { width: 100%; max-width...

False negatives study featured in 'Inside Science'

Research highlights from the recent 'Astrobiology' paper were featured in 'Inside Science' last week. 'There are huge swaths of time throughout Earth’s history during which it would’ve been difficult to see the presence of these metabolisms even though we know from the rock record that they were around. It’s a sobering thing,' Reinhard told 'Inside...

Tim Lyons to fulfill visiting professorship in UK

Lyons, Director of the UCR Astrobiology Center and Alternative Earths team, will serve as a visiting professor this summer at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He will study the Ries Crater in southern Germany as an analog for Martian crater lakes, in contribution to the field of astrobiology. The professorship will be granted...

Ancient oceans may have fostered microbial methane production

Alternative Earths Ph.D student Marcus Bray and Co-Investigator Jennifer Glass (Georgia Tech) co-authored a new paper in 'Geobiology'. The research team examined methane production by microbes in the absence of marine 'iron-curtains'. Methane that escaped to the atmosphere may have played a prominant role in early-Earth greenhouse warming, despite a younger sun at the time...

'Alien planets: Are other Earths lurking in our galaxy?'

Astrobiologist Antígona Segura Peralta (National Autonomous University of Mexico) presented the final talk in the 2016-2017 'Are We Alone?' Science Lecture Series. Segura Peralta explained the fundamental concepts of habitability and exoplanet detection—and which particular star systems astrobiologists will look at. The talk was followed by an audience Q&A session. Read More Lecture Archive .article-header-image...

Best candidates for life may give least amount of clues

Alternative Earths team members recently published a paper to 'Astrobiology,' considering the potential for false negatives, biospheres that are not evident in detecting a planet's atmosphere. Chris Reinhard, Stephanie Olson, Eddie Schwieterman and Tim Lyons led a study using geochemical proxies, in combination with Earth-system models, to look at terrestrial biosignatures as an analogy for...

Eddie Schwieterman shares fascination for 'Alien Planets'

NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, Eddie Schwieterman (UC Riverside), hosted 'Alien Planets,' the last talk of the 2016-2017 Science Lecture Series at UCR Palm Desert Center, on Thursday evening. Schwieterman, an astrobiologist, discussed the concept of exoplanets, and how their atmospheres can help us detect life beyond our solar system. .article-header-image { display: none !important } [title="Schwieterman"]...

'Mars 2020: Will we find life on the red planet?'

Ken Williford, deputy project scientist of the Mars 2020 Mission (NASA-JPL), presented the fourth talk of the 'Are We Alone?' 2016-2017 Science Lecture Series on Thursday. The talk encompassed NASA's plans to examine the Martian surface for signs of life in the past, and methods scientists will use. The talk was followed by a panel...

NASA discovers first Earth-sized exoplanets in habitable zone

Last week, NASA announced seven new exoplanets in the habitable zone of the TRAPPIST-1 star system. According to NASA, each of these planets is rocky and could potentially contain surface water. Nature letter NASA Press Release

Iodine geochemistry provides new details on Proterozoic oxygen

Dalton Hardisty, a recent UCR graduate and now Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute postdoctoral scholar, leads new 'EPSL' study using iodine as a proxy for Proterozoic surface ocean redox. EPSL paper

Selenium isotope data suggest potential earlier appearance of eukaryotes

In a new PNAS paper co-authored by Andrey Bekker (UCR), new selenium isotope data suggest expansion of suboxic marine environments that may have allowed the first origins of eukyarotic evolution. The study shows geochemical evidence for suboxia more than two billion years ago, though the oldest fossil evidence is found more than one billion years...

Kevin Hand takes UCR through oceans of the solar system

The third lecture of the 'Are We Alone?' series brought NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist, Kevin Hand, to UCR. Hand spoke about upcoming missions involving icy worlds like Europa, and how scientists hope to find life under its solid ice cover. An interactive 'Sensing the Universe' activity followed by various students and postdocs of the...

New time constraints for Neoproterozoic oxygenation

Tim Lyons co-authored a new 'Geology' paper published last week, showing evidence for global sulfur oxidation extending back to the beginning of the Ediacaran Period. The study also suggests rising atmospheric oxygen at this point in geologic time, simultaneous with the appearance of Ediacaran macrofauna. Geology paper

Tim Lyons to discuss Earth's past in NASA's Search for Life

Director of UC Riverside's Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center and Principal Investigator of the UCR-led Alternative Earths Team of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, Tim Lyons, will continue the 2016-2017 'Are We Alone?' Lecture Series this Thursday, January 12. Lyons will explain the overarching motivation behind Alternative Earths and current research being done by the team. The...

Chris Reinhard leads phosphorus study published in Nature

Chris Reinhard, Institutional PI of the NAI Alternative Earths Team, led a paper recently published in ‘Nature.’ The study found that the appearance of phosphorus in the sedimentary rock record correlated with the emergence of animal life 800 million years ago. Read More Press Release

Bahram Mobasher presents on 'Stars, Galaxies, and the Stuff of Life'

Bahram Mobasher, Co-Director of the Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center, presented in the 2016-2017 Science Lecture Series on December 9, 2016. Mobasher, a Professor of Astronomy at UCR, shared his perspective of life on Earth and the potential for life in the universe as part of this year's theme, 'Are We Alone?.' The talk was followed...
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