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Extraterrestrial objects likely delayed complex life on Earth

"Bombardment of Earth’s surface by asteroids six or more miles long likely delayed the accumulation of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere."

Geology professor joins elite class of American Geophysical Union fellows

"Geology Professor Andy Ridgwell has been named a 2021 fellow of the American Geophysical Union, or AGU, one of the most significant honors a scientist in earth sciences can receive. AGU is a large international society dedicated to promoting Earth and space science. It elects fewer than 0.1% of its 60,000 members each year to...

Meet UCR’s paleontology power pair

"Paleontologist Nigel Hughes has earned one of the highest honors in his field, an achievement made even more remarkable because last year’s winner was another UCR paleontologist — Mary Droser, his wife. Any paleontologist in the world is eligible for the Society for Sedimentary Geology’s Raymond C. Moore Paleontology Medal. It was unintentional that the...

Investigating the potential for life around the galaxy’s smallest stars

"When the world’s most powerful telescope launches into space this year, scientists will learn whether Earth-sized planets in our ‘solar neighborhood’ have a key prerequisite for life — an atmosphere. These planets orbit an M-dwarf, the smallest and most common type of star in the galaxy. Scientists do not currently know how common it is...
| Astrobiology
earthvenus

UCR joins forces with NASA on missions to Venus

"By joining NASA on its newly announced missions, UC Riverside is hoping to learn how Venus went from pleasant, Earth-like planet to blistering wasteland."
By Jules Bernstein | | Astrobiology, Exoplanets and Planetary Science

Project illuminates where giant exoplanets reside

"Astronomers have long wondered whether the configuration of planets in our solar system is common elsewhere in the universe. New results from the longest-running survey of exoplanets helps answer this question."
By Jules Bernstein | | Astrobiology, Exoplanets and Planetary Science

Study reveals the workings of nature’s own earthquake blocker

"A new study finds a naturally occurring “earthquake gate” that decides which earthquakes are allowed to grow into magnitude 8 or greater. "
By JULES BERNSTEIN | | Earthquakes & Geophysics

Rise of oxygen on Earth: Initial estimates off by 100 million years

"New research shows the permanent rise of oxygen in our atmosphere, which set the stage for life as we know it, happened 100 million years later than previously thought. A significant rise in oxygen occurred about 2.43 billion years ago, marking the start of the Great Oxidation Episode — a pivotal moment in Earth’s history."

450-million-year-old sea creatures had a leg up on breathing

"A new study has found the first evidence of sophisticated breathing organs in 450-million-year-old sea creatures. Contrary to previous thought, trilobites were leg breathers, with structures resembling gills hanging off their thighs. Trilobites were a group of marine animals with half-moon-like heads that resembled horseshoe crabs, and they were wildly successful in terms of evolution...

Research shows we’re surprisingly similar to Earth’s first animals

"The earliest multicellular organisms may have lacked heads, legs, or arms, but pieces of them remain inside of us today, new research shows. According to a UC Riverside study, 555-million-year-old oceanic creatures from the Ediacaran period share genes with today’s animals, including humans." Read More

Using Earth’s history to inform the search for life on exoplanets

"UC Riverside is leading one of the NASA Astrobiology Program’s eight new research teams tackling questions about the evolution and origins of life on Earth and the possibility of life beyond our solar system. The teams comprise the inaugural class of NASA’s Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research program. The UCR-led team is motivated by the...
| Astrobiology

Reducing aerosol pollution without cutting carbon dioxide could make the planet hotter

Humans must reduce carbon dioxide and aerosol pollution simultaneously to avoid weakening the ocean’s ability to keep the planet cool, new research shows. Aerosol pollution refers to particles in the air emitted by vehicles and factories that burn fossil fuels. This pollution contributes to asthma, bronchitis, and long-term irritation of the respiratory tract, which can...

To survive asteroid impact, algae learned to hunt

Tiny, seemingly harmless ocean plants survived the darkness of the asteroid strike that killed the dinosaurs by learning a ghoulish behavior — eating other living creatures. Vast amounts of debris, soot, and aerosols shot into the atmosphere when an asteroid slammed into Earth 66 million years ago, plunging the planet into darkness, cooling the climate...

Newly discovered planet survived the death of its star

An international team of astronomers has reported what may be the first example of an intact planet closely orbiting a white dwarf, a dense leftover of a sun-like star that’s only 40% bigger than Earth. The discovery is unique because stars usually destroy nearby planets as they begin to die. “We know of many white...
| Exoplanets and Planetary Science
Trappist-1 planetary system (c) NASA / JPL / Caltech

Surprising number of exoplanets could host life

Our solar system has one habitable planet — Earth. A new study shows other stars could have as many as seven Earth-like planets in the absence of a gas giant like Jupiter. This is the conclusion of a study led by UC Riverside astrobiologist Stephen Kane published this week in the Astronomical Journal. The search...
By Jules Bernstein | UCR News | | Exoplanets and Planetary Science
AU Microscopii

Newly discovered planet zips around baby star in a week

Understanding how planets form is one of the main challenges scientists face when placing our own and other planetary systems in context. Planets are thought to form from the disk-shaped clouds of gas and dust that surround newborn stars, but this process has never been observed. Astronomers normally only observe planets after they have already...
By Holly Ober | UCR News | | Exoplanets and Planetary Science

Ancestor of all animals identified in Australian fossils

A team led by UC Riverside geologists has discovered the first ancestor on the family tree that contains most familiar animals today, including humans. The tiny, wormlike creature, named Ikaria wariootia, is the earliest bilaterian, or organism with a front and back, two symmetrical sides, and openings at either end connected by a gut. The...

Ancient meteorite site on Earth could reveal new clues about Mars’ past

Scientists have devised new analytical tools to break down the enigmatic history of Mars’ atmosphere — and whether life was once possible there. A paper detailing the work was published today in the journal Science Advances. It could help astrobiologists understand the alkalinity, pH and nitrogen content of ancient waters on Mars, and by extension...
| Exoplanets and Planetary Science

Scientists develop new method to detect oxygen on exoplanets

Scientists have developed a new method for detecting oxygen in exoplanet atmospheres that may accelerate the search for life. One possible indication of life, or biosignature, is the presence of oxygen in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. Oxygen is generated by life on Earth when organisms such as plants, algae, and cyanobacteria use photosynthesis to convert sunlight...

Earthquakes, chickens, and bugs, oh my!

Two new algorithms could help earthquake early warning systems buy you a few extra seconds to drop, cover, and hold on before the ground begins to shake. Computer scientists at the University of California, Riverside have developed two algorithms that will improve earthquake monitoring and help farmers protect their crops from dangerous insects, or monitor...
| Earthquakes & Geophysics
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