Heavens

It's fun to imagine life on other planets being advanced alien civilizations and exotic creatures conversing in foreign languages but it's not possible to determine any of those things now.

Instead, by studying various biosignatures found in the light spectrum leaking out to Earth, researchers can speculate on what kind of photosynthesis might occur on such planets and what the extrasolar plants might look like.

Paint it black

ESA is preparing for future human exploration missions to Mars. We are currently looking for volunteers to take part in a 520-day simulated Mars mission.

To go to Mars is still a dream and one of the last gigantic challenges. But one day some of us will be on precisely that journey to the Red Planet. A journey with no way out once the spaceship is on a direct path to Mars.

The world is abuzz with the discovery of an extrasolar, Earthlike planet around the star Gliese 581 that is relatively close to our Earth at 20 light years away in the constellation Libra.

Bruce Fegley, Jr., Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has worked on computer models that can provide hints to what comprises the atmosphere of such planets and better-known celestial bodies in our own solar system.

A new way of looking at a previously abandoned mathematical model might help astronomers study and accurately identify an exotic clan of gravitational waves.

The waves in question come from small black holes or neutron stars in extremely elongated orbits around vastly larger black holes, says Dr. Lior Burko, an assistant physics professor at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). "This reopens an area of research that was closed several years ago."

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has teamed up with the W.M. Keck Observatory to precisely measure the mass of Eris, the largest member of a new class of dwarf planets in our solar system. Eris is 1.27 times the mass of Pluto, formerly the largest member of the Kuiper Belt of icy objects beyond Neptune.

Electrically charged gas in the magnetosphere of Saturn suggests volcanic activity on two of its moons. The direction of the ejected electrons points back towards Tethys and Dione. Previously it had been thought only only Enceladus was an active world.CLICK ABOVE FOR FULL SIZE. Plumes of icy material extend above the southern polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus, as imaged by the Cassini spacecraft in January 2005.

A young star’s strange elliptical ring of dust likely heralds the presence of an undiscovered Neptune-sized planet, says a University of Rochester astronomer

A team of Canadian and U.S. researchers have uncovered evidence that ragged, kilometre-high undulating features on the surface of Mars were shorelines of massive ancient oceans that once covered one-third of the planet in water.

A unique discovery of two celestial explosions at exactly the same position in the sky has led astronomers to suggest they have witnessed the death of one of the most massive stars that can exist.

The Milky Way's total mass is about 100 billion solar masses - enormous to us but average among galaxies. It spirals around a black hole that is about three million solar masses, say cosmologists.