Latest Developments in Astrobiology

exoplanetspottedNASA-1024x256For those of us interested in finding out whether or not Life exists beyond our home planet (and I assume that includes all of us), these are heady days indeed. Consider the last five weeks alone. On April 4th, scientists announced that the Cassini orbiter had detected a large body of liquid water beneath the crust of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s many moons. (To learn more, check out the links here, here and here). On April 18th, another group of scientists announced that they had identified the first Earth-like exoplanet orbiting a distant Sun-like star. The exoplanet is almost exactly the same size as Earth, and its orbit falls within the “habitable zone,” which means that water could potentially exist on its surface in liquid form. (Links here, here, and here.) Meanwhile, on May 1st, yet another team of scientists announced that they had measured the rotation of an exoplanet for the first time ever. (Links here, here, and here.) It’s a lot to take in, but there are several resources on the web that can help you try.  To take an animated fly-by of all the known exoplanets, check out this link, and to compare the potential habitability of all known exoplanets, check out this link.