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.
Ancient Mars featured flowing rivers and sizable lakes — but that doesn't mean the Red Planet definitely could have supported life, one prominent researcher stresses.
The presence of liquid water is just one of many factors that researchers need to take into account when investigating the past or present habitability of Mars or any other cosmic body, astrobiologist and mineralogist Pamela Conrad wrote in a "Perspectives" piece published online on Dec. 11 in the journal Science.
"The things that make a place livable are numerous, and sometimes, there's a showstopper you didn't think of," Conrad, deputy principal investigator for the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument aboard NASA's Curiosity rover, told SPACE.com. "So it's important to take a poll of the diversity of attributes that could contribute to making an environment livable or not."
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.