Will life be the same everywhere?

To Find Alien Life, Expect the Unexpected

Highlights of a Library of Congress symposium on first contact with extraterrestrial life

Europa’s surface as seen by NASA’s Galileo probe, with a prominent double-ridge system running from the lower left to the upper right. The feature could function similarly to a mid-oceanic ridge on Earth.

More Signs That Europa Could Be Habitable

Researchers see plate tectonic activity on a distant moon.

Expose-R is fixed to the outside of the International Space Station.

New ISS Experiment Tests Organisms’ Survival Skills in Space

Biological samples will be exposed to the harsh environment outside the space station.

Artist's conception of lightning storms on Venus.

Alien Life May Thrive on an Exotic Kind of Carbon Dioxide

The familiar gas would have not-so-familiar properties on other planets.

Electron microscope image of a microbial cell (and attached sediment particle) found in the water of Lake Whillans.

Scientists Find Life in an Antarctic Lake

…a place not unlike Jupiter’s moon Europa

A student samples the goo at Pitch Lake in Trinidad.

Life in a Lake of Oil

And that may have implications for Saturn’s moon Titan

What If We Do Find Extraterrestrial Life?

A public symposium in Washington D.C. will take up this provocative topic.

Plastic as a Sign of Civilization

We will know the extraterrestrials by their trash.

Glaciers past and present: (left) remnant morphologies shaped by past glacial activity on Aeolis Mons on Mars, and (right) Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in Iceland.

Glaciers on Mars, 3.5 Billion Years Ago

New evidence that the planet was once cold, wet—and perhaps habitable.

Artist’s conception of Pluto and Charon as seen from another of Pluto’s small moons.

An Ocean---Perhaps---on Pluto’s Moon Charon

New Horizons may find another water world when it reaches its destination.

Artist’s view of Kapteyn b with the globular cluster Omega Centauri in the background.

Would Life Be More Advanced on a World Twice as Old as Earth?

Meet Kapteyn b, the oldest known exoplanet in the habitable zone.

100 Million Planets in our Galaxy May Harbor Complex Life

One percent of all exoplanets may be suitable for complex organisms, according to a new estimate based on data rather than guesswork.

Artist's conception of the Exolance deployment.

Exploring Mars—With Arrows

Penetrator probes may be the perfect way to prospect for life on other planets.

Artist's conception of Kepler 186-f. Is it habitable? Hard to say.

Confirming Life On Other Planets Will be Tough—From Earth

It may even be impossible.

Mercury as seen by MESSENGER, in black and white and color.

Did Mercury Do a Hit-and-Run on Earth?

It’s only outrageous speculation, but it would explain a few things.

Cassini view of Enceladus.

Cassini Finds a Sea Under the Ice of Enceladus

Gravity measurements show a body of water as big as Lake Superior on Saturn's tiny moon.

The Sheepbed mudstone, an ancient habitable lake in Gale Crater on Mars.

Organic Material on Mars—The Case Gets Stronger

Contamination from Earth now seems less likely at the <i>Curiosity</i> landing site.

Single-celled organisms may look simple, but they require some pretty advanced chemistry.

A New Clue to the Origin of Life

To get biology you need enzymes, but where did enzymes come from?

Graham Pearson with his sample of ringwoodite.

A New Mineral, Never Seen on Earth, Points to Our Planet’s Watery Interior

A diamond discovered in Brazil yields even richer scientific treasure.

Mars One: Balancing Skepticism and Optimism

There are lots of “ifs” in a controversial plan to send people to Mars by 2025.

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