Paul Scott Anderson
Crescent Mercury.

Was Mercury once habitable?

As unlikely as it may sound, Mercury may have once been able to support subsurface microscopic life, according to a new study from the Planetary Science Institute.

Egg-shaped little planet, spinning.

Astronomers announce 100 new minor planets beyond Neptune

They’re called trans-Neptunian objects, or TNOs. Astronomers analyzed data from the Dark Energy Survey – which just completed 6 years of observations – to find over 100 new little worlds in the cold outer reaches of our solar system.

Rectangular object on top of a penny.

Will we soon see potentially habitable exoplanets more clearly?

Because stars are so much brighter than their planets, we’ve barely begun to glimpse distant exoplanets, or planets orbiting distant stars. Now a new technology promises to provide better imaging of these potentially habitable exoworlds.

Mechanical rover in middle of brownish rocky landscape, with text annotations.

See Curiosity’s epic new selfie from Mars

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has taken a beautiful new selfie.

Poster-like view of man flying with umbrella with red wall of clouds behind him.

Meet the giant exoplanet where it rains iron

The temperatures on the day side of giant exoplanet WASP-76b are scorching, high enough for metals to be vaporized. But the night side is cooler, and winds carry an iron “rain” from the day side to the night side.

Reddish rocks with haze and hills in background.

What’s cool about Curiosity’s discovery of organic molecules on Mars

The Curiosity rover has found organic molecules called thiophenes, which, on Earth, are associated with biological systems. Are they evidence for once-living microbes on Mars?

Dark gray rock with lighter-colored spots.

Have the first proteins been found in meteorites?

Researchers say they’ve discovered the first complete proteins inside 2 meteorites. It’s tantalizing, since proteins play a key role in the cells of living creatures. But will the results hold up to scrutiny?

Bright white and yellow globe with small dark oval in front of it.

What if super-puff planets have rings?

All 4 of the gas giant planets in our solar system – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune – are known to have rings. Could many of the so-called super-puff or cotton candy exoplanets have rings instead of super low densities?

Thin rings and broad gray band on black background.

Could K2-18b be habitable after all?

A new study by researchers at Cambridge University suggests that the giant exoplanet K2-18b – a mini-Neptune – may be more potentially habitable than previously thought.

Rover with propeller on top, on rocky ground.

NASA issues a Venus rover design challenge

NASA has issued a public challenge where you can help design a critical sensor that would be needed for a future rover on Venus.