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Life in Space

Kepler 186f: Is It Inhabited?

Seth Shostak | Posted 06.21.2014 | Science
Seth Shostak

A team of astronomers, after carefully combing data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, has finally nailed a world that might be similar to our own. But is it inhabited? Finding the answer is not easy.

The Numbers Are Astronomical

Seth Shostak | Posted 01.23.2014 | Science
Seth Shostak

Check out the Milky Way next time you're outside the glare of city lights, and ruminate on the thought that at least 33 billion habitable planets are somewhere up there. But that's just the local population.

Why Doesn't NASA Just Look for Life?

Seth Shostak | Posted 10.24.2013 | Science
Seth Shostak

The "water found on Mars" story is as perennial as Christmas. NASA doesn't need to tell us that again. So why not cut out the seemingly endless stream of robotic middlemen, and just send hardware that will search for life, big or small? Isn't it time to cut to the chase?

Contact With Aliens? Think Before You Call.

Seth Shostak | Posted 10.06.2013 | Science
Seth Shostak

I endeavor to keep an open mind. After all, anyone can make a scientific discovery. And if that someone is outside the cozy halls of academe, how can they make their case? However, I would like to offer an FAQ service for those who would call or write with extraordinary claims.

How Ordinary Are We?

Seth Shostak | Posted 07.24.2013 | Science
Seth Shostak

Could it be that our planet isn't typical at all? If so, then maybe life isn't typical either. On the other hand, if there are plenty of planets similar to Earth, we can reasonably hope for lots of cosmic company.

WATCH: ISS Veteran Shows How Astros Pee, Poop In Space

Melissa Cronin | Posted 01.10.2013 | Science

Ever wondered what it's like to work, eat, and -- um-- go to the bathroom in microgravity 230 miles above the Earth's surface? Now's your chance t...

Are We Alone?

George Smoot III | Posted 03.05.2012 | Science
George Smoot III

We are in the midst of one of the most interesting and challenging science research programs that humans have ever pursued. It is good to keep this in mind when the everyday crises of human affairs seem so overwhelming.

Last Chance to Be Special?

Seth Shostak | Posted 02.04.2012 | Technology
Seth Shostak

Scientists connected with NASA's Kepler space telescope have announced the discovery of a planet orbiting a Sun-like star that may resemble our own world. Its name is Kepler-22b.

Life: Miraculous or Mundane?

Seth Shostak | Posted 10.01.2011 | Technology
Seth Shostak

When it comes to life in space, we have to do more than simply consider what's on our blackboards. We have to do the hard work -- we have to search. To quote Fox Mulder, the truth is out there.

Bye Bye to a Lovely Planet

Seth Shostak | Posted 05.25.2011 | Technology
Seth Shostak

A new analysis suggests Gliese 581g, the first world found in deep space that might sport an environment comparable to our own, is an apparition -- a planet conjured into existence by other researchers' faulty interpretation of noisy data.

The UFO Debate Heats Up

msn.com | Leslie Kean | Posted 05.25.2011 | Books

In the biographical note appended to his commentary, he notes that he spent 22 years at NASA's Mission Control and has written books about space polic...

Moon Water: Probes Find H20 Traces In Dirt

AP | SETH BORENSTEIN | Posted 05.25.2011 | Green

The moon isn't the dry dull place it seems. Traces of water lurk in the dirt unseen.

Three different space probes found the chemical signature of water all over the moon's surface, surprising the scientists who at first doubted the unexpected measurement until it was confirmed independently and repeatedly.

It's not enough moisture to foster homegrown life on the moon. But if processed in mass quantities, it might provide resources – drinking water and rocket fuel – for future moon-dwellers, scientists say. The water comes and goes during the lunar day.

It's not a lot of water. If you took a two-liter soda bottle of lunar dirt, there would probably be a medicine dropperful of water in it, said University of Maryland astronomer Jessica Sunshine, one of the scientists who discovered the water. Another way to think of it is if you want a drink of water, it would take a baseball diamond's worth of dirt, said team leader Carle Pieters of Brown University.

"It's sort of just sticking on the surface," Sunshine said. "We always think of the moon as dead and this is sort of a dynamic process that's going on."

Life Found In A Comet For The First Time

nytimes.com | KENNETH CHANG | Posted 05.25.2011 | Home

For the first time, a building block of proteins -- and hence of life as we know it -- has been found in a comet. That adds to the prevailing notio...