Midnight In The Desert — life

Meet the Animal That Lives for 11,000 Years

Posted by K R on

Meet the Animal That Lives for 11,000 Years

"What’s the top ranking of the longest living animal?” Mohamed Larbi Bahou asked Weird Animal Question of the Week. Some days it feels like it might be me. Kidding aside, humans these days live pretty long lives: The average global life expectancy of someone born in 2015 is 71.4 years. That’s not bad compared with some adult female mayflies, which live for under five minutes—just long enough to mate and lay eggs. Talk about speed dating. We did some digging and found some animals who are really getting the use out of their senior discount cards. Read More: National Geographic

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The Prospects for Alien Life on Titan Keep Getting Better

Posted by K R on

The Prospects for Alien Life on Titan Keep Getting Better

Saturn’s moon Titan is a frigid hellscape by Earth standards, but it’s also one of the most hopeful spots for discovering alien life in our solar system. A new scientific paper hints that conditions on Titan’s surface might be favorable for the chemistry of life to emerge. Titan is the only other world we know of whose surface is shaped by lakes, rivers, and rainfall. Except deep in Saturn’s rings, it’s not water that flows, but methane. Even so, Titan’s remarkably Earth-like appearance has led astrobiologists to wonder whether some sort of cold-adapted, non water-based life form could emerge. But...

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Excitement Builds for the Possibility of Life on Enceladus

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Excitement Builds for the Possibility of Life on Enceladus

Saturn’s frozen moon Enceladus is a tantalizing world—many scientists are increasingly convinced it may be the best place in our solar system to search for life. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, currently orbiting Saturn, has made intriguing observations of icy jets spewing from a suspected underground liquid ocean on the mysterious world that might be hospitable to alien life. Cassini’s tour is due to wind down in 2017, and scientists badly want to send a dedicated mission to Enceladus to look for signs of life. In fact, some have already started seriously thinking about exactly how they might do this—including planetary scientist...

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Is NASA doing enough to look for alien life?

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Is NASA doing enough to look for alien life?

The search could be on. A new study suggests that Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), has the potential to search three freshly discovered planets to see if anyone lives there. The planets, which orbit a star just 40 light years from Earth, were discovered last month. Researchers suggest the JWST could probe their atmospheres for signs of life after it launches in 2018. But will it? This is the latest salvo in a debate raging through the astronomy community. Astronomers are finally on the technological brink of being able to answer the question: Are we alone? Although...

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The Other Way to Find Life Out There

Posted by K R on

The Other Way to Find Life Out There

In the three-way horse race to prove that biology is not just a terrestrial aberration, there’s one steed that many people ignore: sampling the air of distant planets to see if they contain the exhaust gases of life, or in the jargon of astrobiologists, biosignatures. Everyone knows the other horses: (1) Finding biology in the solar system by hurling rockets to Mars or some of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn, and (2) expanding our SETI experiments to eavesdrop on radio or laser signals from clever beings on distant worlds. The former has the advantage that, if microbes have sprung...

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