Science Daily: Comets and Asteroids

'Iceball' planet discovered through microlensing

Scientists have discovered a new planet with the mass of Earth, orbiting its star at the same distance that we orbit our sun. The planet is likely far too cold to be habitable for life as we know it, however, because its star is so faint. But the discovery adds to scientists' understanding of the types of planetary systems that exist beyond our own.

Lull in Mars' giant impact history

From the earliest days of our solar system's history, collisions between astronomical objects have shaped the planets and changed the course of their evolution. Studying the early bombardment history of Mars, scientists have discovered a 400-million-year lull in large impacts early in Martian history.

In experiments on Earth, testing possible building blocks of alien life

Extraterrestrial life, if it exists, could use different amino acid building blocks than living things here on Earth. To better understand what alien life might look like, researchers are studying which amino acids stand up to the types of extreme conditions found on other planets and moons.

Will Earth-like planets be found to have Earth-like oceans?

For a planetary surface to boast extensive areas of both land and water, a delicate balance must be struck between the volume of water it retains and the capacity of its oceanic basins. Each of these two quantities may vary substantially across the full spectrum of water-bearing worlds. Why the Earth's values are so well balanced is an unresolved and long-standing conundrum.

Newly discovered exoplanet may be best candidate in search for signs of life

An exoplanet orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth may be the new holder of the title 'best place to look for signs of life beyond the solar system.' Using ESO's HARPS instrument, and other telescopes, astronomers discovered a 'super-Earth' orbiting in the habitable zone around the star LHS 1140. This world is larger and more massive than the Earth and has likely retained most of its atmosphere. This makes it one of the most exciting targets for atmospheric studies.

Hazardous asteroid effects ranked from least to most destructive

If an asteroid struck Earth, which of its effects -- scorching heat, flying debris, towering tsunamis -- would claim the most lives? A new study has the answer: violent winds and shock waves are the most dangerous effects produced by Earth-impacting asteroids.

A new mineral from the oldest solar system solids in meteorites

Researchers have identified a new mineral in the oldest solar system solids from primitive meteorites. They've named it "rubinite" after Dr. Alan E. Rubin, a pioneering cosmochemist at University of California, Los Angeles. Rubinite was officially approved in March 2017 by the International Mineralogical Association.

Landslides on Ceres reflect hidden ice

Massive landslides, similar to those found on Earth, are occurring on the asteroid Ceres. That's according to a new study adding to the growing evidence that Ceres retains a significant amount of water ice.

Meet 'DeeDee,' a distant, dim member of our solar system

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have revealed extraordinary details about a recently discovered far-flung member of our solar system, the planetary body 2014 UZ224, more informally known as DeeDee.

Collisions generate gas in debris disks

By examining the atomic carbon line from two young star systems -- 49 Ceti and Beta Pictoris -- researchers had found atomic carbon in the disk, the first time this observation has been made at sub-millimeter wavelength, hinting that the gas in debris disks is not primordial, but rather is generated from some process of collisions taking place in the debris disk.

'Cold' great spot discovered on Jupiter

A Great Cold Spot comparable in scale to Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot (24,000 km west-east and 12,000 km north-south) has been found on the planet. The phenomenon, only recently observed, may have existed for thousands of years, however, this is the first direct evidence of a sustained weather system generated by polar aurorae and opens possibility on other planets.

NASA's MAVEN reveals Mars has metal in its atmosphere

Mars has electrically charged metal atoms (ions) high in its atmosphere, according to new results. The metal ions can reveal previously invisible activity in the mysterious electrically charged upper atmosphere (ionosphere) of Mars.

Astrochemistry: How life may have begun in space

What chemical processes in space could have created the building blocks of life is being researched by chemists. In their experiments, the scientists are simulating the conditions in space to understand in detail how certain chemical reactions occur.