Origin & Evolution of Life

Origin of Life's Building Blocks in Carbon and Nitrogen Rich Surface Hydrothermal Vents

Origin of Life's Building Blocks in Carbon and Nitrogen Rich Surface Hydrothermal Vents

There are two dominant and contrasting classes of origin of life scenarios: those predicting that life emerged in submarine hydrothermal systems, where chemical disequilibrium can provide an energy source for nascent life; and those predicting that life emerged within subaerial environments, where UV catalysis of reactions may occur to form the building blocks of life.

Microbiology

Study of Archaeal Cells Could Teach Us More About Ourselves

Study of Archaeal Cells Could Teach Us More About Ourselves

Forty-two years after Carl Woese defined archaea as the third domain of life, scientists at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are still learning about these ancient organisms in ways that could help us learn more about eukaryotes.

Genomics and Cell Biology

The DNA Helix May Have Arisen With Startling Ease

The DNA Helix May Have Arisen With Startling Ease

Trying to explain how DNA and RNA evolved to form such neat spirals has been a notorious enigma in science. But a new study suggests the rotation may have occurred with ease billions of years ago when RNA's chemical ancestors casually spun into spiraled strands.

Astrochemistry

Astronomers Find Glycolonitrile - A Building Block of Life

Astronomers Find Glycolonitrile - A Building Block of Life

An organic molecule detected in the material from which a star forms could shed light on how life emerged on Earth, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London.

Extremeophiles and Extreme Environments

Slow Living Microbes That Eat Organic Carbon

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Far below the ocean floor, sediments are teeming with bizarre zombie-like microbes. Although they're technically alive, they grow in slow motion, and can take decades for a single cell to divide--something their cousins at the surface do in a matter of minutes.

Origin & Evolution of Life

Searching For LUCA - The Last Universal Common Ancestor

Searching For LUCA - The Last Universal Common Ancestor

Around 4 billion years ago there lived a microbe called LUCA: the Last Universal Common Ancestor. There is evidence that it could have lived a somewhat 'alien' lifestyle, hidden away deep underground in iron-sulfur rich hydrothermal vents.

Plant Biology

Monitoring Indoor Crop Health On Earth And Other Worlds

Monitoring Indoor Crop Health On Earth And Other Worlds

As the world urbanizes and technologies such as LED grow lights bring down costs, indoor farming is becoming an increasingly important part of the food supply. Eventually, indoor farming techniques could help humans maintain a healthy diet in space.

Origin & Evolution of Life

Placing Chaetognaths In Earth's Tree Of Life

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Chaetognaths, or arrow worms, have a distinct jaw structure composed of dense protein matrix and a fibrous substance called chitin. These organisms display an ambiguous set of developmental and morphological features, making them difficult to categorize on the Tree of Life.

Extrasolar Planets

The CARMENES Search For Exoplanets Around M Dwarfs

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We use spectra from CARMENES, the Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exo-earths with Near-infrared and optical Echelle Spectrographs, to search for periods in chromospheric indices in 16 M0 to M2 dwarfs.

Planetary Protection

Planetary Protection Classification of Sample-Return Missions from the Martian Moons

Planetary Protection Classification of Sample-Return Missions from the Martian Moons

This report reviews recent theoretical, experimental, and modeling research on the environments and physical conditions encountered by Mars ejecta during certain processes. It recommends whether missions returning samples from Phobos and/or Deimos should be classified as "restricted" or "unrestricted" Earth return in the framework of the planetary protection policy maintained by COSPAR. This report also considers the specific ways the classification of sample return from Deimos is a different case than sample return from Phobos.

Astrochemistry

Possibility Of Condensation Of Glycine Near The Surface Of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

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The cometary materials are thought to be the reservoir of primitive materials in the solar system. The recent detection of glycine and CH3NH2 by the ROSINA mass spectrometer in the coma of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko suggests that amino acids and their precursors have been formed in such an early evolutionary phase of the Solar System.

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