How does living in an endless ocean sound? For some, a perpetual sea-side view may be a dream come true. And that dream may already be a reality for extraterrestrial life, according to a new study which suggests that watery exoplanets tilted on their axis in just the right way would boast a "rather mild" and habitable climate.
Experts have been searching for planets outside or solar system that could support life for a long time now. Nearly 2,000 exoplanets beyond our solar system have been identified to date, and NASA experts and their colleagues recently affirmed their belief that a stunning 10 to 20 percent of all the stars in the sky may host habitable planets.
"We have found a habitable environment," said John Grotzinger, project scientist for the Curiosity mission. "The water that was here was so benign and supportive of life that if a human had been on the planet back then, they could drink it."
Through routine quality control testing, a researcher working with Markus Ralser, who would eventually become the lead researcher for the project, stumbled upon signs of the metabolic process where, for all intents and purposes, there shouldn't have been. Until now, much of the science community has generally agreed that Ribonucleic acid, or RNA, was the first building block of life because it produces enzymes that could catalyze complex sequences of reactions such as metabolic action. However, Ralser's lab found the end products of the metabolic process without any presence of RNA. Instead, the findings indicate that complex and life-forming reactions like these could occur spontaneously given the right, but surprisingly simple, conditions.
Mars may have once been capable of supporting microbial life for hundreds of millions of years in the distant past, new findings from a long-lived Red Planet rover suggest.
NASA's Opportunity rover, which celebrates 10 years of Mars exploration today (Jan. 24), has uncovered evidence that benign, nearly neutral-pH water flowed on the Red Planet around 4 billion years ago.