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19 March 2011
More on the cryosphere of Mars, along with some speculation about martian carbonates and skepticism about the presence of methane in the martian atmosphere.
7 January 2011
I realized relatively recently that I like planets and I like speculative fiction for basically the same reason: strange new worlds just fire up my imagination. That’s the topic of my latest post over at Science in my Fiction, where I take a look at some spectacular and bizarre real (or at least realistic) planetary locations that I think would be great settings for some sci-fi. I got a little …
15 December 2010
Planetary highlights from Day 1 of the Fall 2010 AGU conference: astrobiology, explosive volcanism, planetary atmospheres and lots of methane!
8 December 2010
Hi folks. Sorry for the lack of activity here lately. The AGU is throwing a little get-together next week, which means I have been working on overdrive to finish a paper before putting together my poster. In the meantime, the plot has thickened for the “arsenic life” story from last week. It is looking more and more like the results of the study were not as revolutionary as they claimed, …
2 December 2010
NASA astrobiologists have found bacteria living in Mono Lake, CA that use arsenic rather than phosphorus as the backbone of it’s DNA and other biomolecules like ATP.
This is a pretty big deal! Until now, everyone thought that life required the elements C,H,N,O,P,S to survive, but the Mono Lake bacteria laugh in the face of that idea and use something typically though of as a deadly poison as a fundamental building block. Felisa Wolfe-Simon, the lead author of the study summed things up nicely when she said that “It has solved the challenge of being alive in a very different way.”
24 October 2010
Last week was my birthday, and I unexpectedly got a gift in the mail from my cousin. We don’t normally exchange birthday gifts, but she came across a t-shirt called “Tubes of Mars” and just had to buy it for me. Apparently, this line of shirts is capitalizing on various wacky conspiracy theories and they decided to use one of my favorites, the “glass tubes on Mars” idea.
11 September 2010
So, you may have heard the news making the rounds last week that a new analysis of the Viking data suggests there may actually be organics and (dare I even say it?) life on mars! Yawn. Consider me underwhelmed. The gist of the story is this: A long-standing mystery in Mars science has been why the Viking instruments were unable to detect any organic molecules on Mars, not even at …
12 August 2010
I’ve got a new post up at The Science of Starcraft! This time I tackle the question of whether unprotected living things could ever survive in the vacuum of space. Go check it out!
22 July 2010
Here’s the second of my recent Universe Today Articles: scientists have discovered new deep sea vents in the Caribbean that will teach us more about sunless ecosystems. Good to know if we ever want to look for life in the oceans of Europa some day! Check out the article here.
9 June 2010
Hey, guess what? There might be caves with ice in them on Mars! You should go check out my post about this cool new possibility over at Universe Today!
2 May 2010
Welcome to The Martian Chronicles and the 152nd edition of the Carnival of Space! As always, we’ve got a great bunch of space-related posts from across the blogosphere, ranging from life on Mars to the age of the universe to Science Ninjas! I’ll get things started with a pair of posts from right here at The Martian Chronicles. A couple weeks ago I went on a cool geology field trip …
25 March 2010
I recently started subscribing to the TED talk RSS feed, and I really love coming home every day after work and listening to smart people talk about cool ideas. If you aren’t familiar with TED, you should be. Most of the talks are fantastic and very thought-provoking. So you can imagine I was excited when I saw that today’s talk was about Mars! The talk was given by Joel Levine, …
6 March 2010
Thursday started off with a couple of talks about the possibility of oceans on Mars. The first one, given by Gaetano DiAchille looked at possible locations of deltas all over Mars to try to figure out the water level of a past ocean. Deltas form when a river hits a standing body of water and drops its sediment, so they are a reliable marker of the water level. DiAchille found …
1 February 2010
(Courtesy of Amanda Bauer’s blog, astropixie)
12 January 2010
I was innocently browsing through my twitter list yesterday when I came across this article on CNN. The gist of it is that many people are experiencing depression after watching Avatar because the fictional world depicted is so beautiful and amazing that life back here on earth seems drab and boring. Many people have responded to this story with shock and derision, and this definitely hints at some pre-existing issues …
21 December 2009
Avatar was spectacular. I always worry when a movie gets as much hype as Avatar did that in the end it will not live up to expectations, but Avatar delivers. It is probably the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen and one of the best sci-fi movies in recent memory. And even better, it is not a sequel or a remake or based on a comic book or novel. It …
20 December 2009
Wednesday was full of particularly interesting stuff: in between the Venus and moon talks there was also the Sagan lecture and an afternoon session about astrobiology and its implications in society. The Sagan lecture was given by Tori Hoehler, a scientist at NASA Ames. He discussed the fundamental thermodynamics behind life, and showed that even if alien life relies on completely different molecules, there are basic requirements, such as the …
1 December 2009
On August 6, 1996 NASA announced that scientists at the Johnson Space Center had found evidence for life on Mars, and everybody went crazy. Yesterday, NASA announced two new papers by the same scientists at the Johnson Space Center claiming that they have found strong evidence of life on Mars. For the most part, there hasn’t been much of a reaction. No presidential press conferences, and only a few headlines. …
4 November 2009
Charlie Stross has an interesting post on his blog that asks the question “How habitable is the Earth?” He goes on to conclude, through a great discussion of the evolution of our planet, that the fraction of time that the earth has been habitable to humans is a tiny sliver of the time the Earth has been around, and that furthermore, much of the earth is not habitable for humans …
12 September 2009
I just stumbled across this awesome Disney cartoon from 1957 over at the Tor.com blog. It’s worth watching just for the various bizarre aliens, but is also surprisingly informative about the history of astronomy, the origin of earth and life, and our fascination with life on Mars. Also note how they call galaxies “island universes”.