LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter
Astronomers Conclude Habitable Planets Are Common
One in five Sun-like stars in our galaxy have Earth-sized planets that could host life, according to a recent study of Kepler data. A team of scientists from the Kepler mission and the Keck telescope in Hawaii announced the estimate based on a survey of planets around sun-like stars, along with tests to determine how many the Kelpler mission would fail to detect. The team cautioned that Earth-size planets in Earth-size orbits are not necessarily hospitable to life, even if they orbit in the habitable zone of a star where the temperature is not too hot and not too cold.
India’s First Mars Mission Launches
India launched its first ever mission to Mars on Nov. 5 to begin a history making ten month long interplanetary voyage to the Red Planet that’s aimed at studying the Martian atmosphere and searching for methane.
Supervolcanoes within an Ancient Volcanic Province on Mars
Some of Mars’ deep craters were actually ancient supervolcanoes that spewed ash over the Red Planet and probably changed its climate, researchers suggest in a controversial new study. NASA scientists say several irregularly shaped craters in Mars’ Arabia Terra region have a structure similar to supervolcanoes on Earth, such as the hotspot that lies beneath Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Billions of years ago, each Martian supervolcano could have blasted out hundreds of cubic miles’ worth of magma --so much material that the surface collapsed, leaving deep, irregular craters behind.
NASA Prepares to Launch First Mission to Explore Martian Atmosphere
A NASA spacecraft that will examine the upper atmosphere of Mars in unprecedented detail is undergoing final preparations for a scheduled 1:28 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 18 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) is the first mission to study the martian upper atmosphere. MAVEN will examine specific processes on Mars that led to the loss of much of its atmosphere. Data and analysis could tell planetary scientists the history of climate change on the Red Planet and provide further information on the history of planetary habitability.
Long-Stressed Europa Likely Off-Kilter at One Time
By analyzing the distinctive cracks lining the icy face of Europa, NASA scientists found evidence that this moon of Jupiter likely spun around a tilted axis at some point. Europa’s network of crisscrossing cracks serves as a record of the stresses caused by massive tides in the moon’s global ocean.
Potential ‘Goldilocks’ Planet Found
A new-found planet is in a "just-right" location around its star where liquid water could possibly exist on the planet’s surface. A team of international astronomers have discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star in a habitable zone, where it isn’t too hot or too cold for liquid water to exist. The team said this discovery demonstrates that habitable planets could form in a greater variety of environments than previously believed.
Meteorites Brought Ammonia to Earth?
Researchers have teased ammonia of a carbon-containing meteorite from Antarctica, and propose that meteorites may have delivered that essential ingredient for life to an early Earth.
Modified from http://www.universetoday.com/83608/meteorites-may-have-delivered-first-ammonia-for-life-on-earth/