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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

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...

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

The thrust of the problem

Anew understanding of a fault that caused a deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake can help scientists better predict where and when the next big one will hit. For decades, scientists have debated the structure of the Main Himalayan Thrust — the fault responsible for a 2015 earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people, injured 22,000, and destroyed...
| Earthquakes & Geophysics

The most spectacular celestial vision you’ll never see

Contrary to previous thought, a gigantic planet in wild orbit does not preclude the presence of an Earth-like planet in the same solar system – or life on that planet. What’s more, the view from that Earth-like planet as its giant neighbor moves past would be unlike anything it is possible to view in our...
| Exoplanets and Planetary Science

Making sense of a ‘7.1’

The fault underneath the town of Ridgecrest, California, has no name because scientists did not discover it until the 7.1 magnitude earthquake it produced on July 5. Now, Abhijit Ghosh, an associate professor of geophysics at UC Riverside, is racing to understand everything hecan about the unnamed fault to help officials prepare for the next...
| Earthquakes & Geophysics

NASA’s TESS mission finds ‘missing link’ planets

NASA’s newest planet-hunting satellite has discovered a type of planet missing from our own solar system. Launched in 2018, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, has found three new worlds around a neighboring star. Stephen Kane, a UC Riverside associate professor of planetary astrophysics, says the new star system, called TESS Object of Interest...

Australia enables UCR to dig into Earth’s wild past

Australian officials signed an agreement last night allowing UC Riverside to continue its pioneering research on a government-owned goldmine for unusual fossils. Nilpena Station is city-sized plot of land in the Australian Outback. It harbors the richest collection on Earth of animal species around 550 million years old. Some of its fossil beds are the...

Campus to celebrate 50th anniversary of historic Moon landing

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon mission. To celebrate, the University of California, Riverside, is hosting a free public event on Thursday, July 11, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the Apollo 11 legacy, as well as current missions to our solar-system’s planets...

Star tours

Astronomers have a new tool in their search for extraterrestrial life – a sophisticated bot that helps identify stars hosting planets similar to Jupiter and Saturn. These giant planets’ faraway twins may protect life in other solar systems, but they aren’t bright enough to be viewed directly. Scientists find them based on properties they can...

Slime travelers

"New UC Riverside-led research settles a longstanding debate about whether the most ancient animal communities were deliberately mobile. It turns out they were, because they were hungry. “This is the first time in the fossil record we see an animal moving to get food,” said study lead Scott Evans, a UCR paleontology doctoral candidate. Evans’...

New study dramatically narrows the search for advanced life in the universe

"RVERSIDE, CA – Scientists may need to rethink their estimates for how many planets outside our solar system could host a rich diversity of life. In a new study, a UC Riverside–led team discovered that a buildup of toxic gases in the atmospheres of most planets makes them unfit for complex life as we know...

Meteor magnets in outer space

"Astronomers believe planets like Jupiter shield us from space objects that would otherwise slam into Earth. Now they’re closer to learning whether giant planets act as guardians of solar systems elsewhere in the galaxy. A UCR-led team has discovered two Jupiter-sized planets about 150 light years away from Earth that could reveal whether life is...

Pioneering UC Riverside geoecologist elected to the National Academy of Sciences

"Marilyn Fogel, a University of California, Riverside endowed geoecology professor, received one of the highest honors in science this week with her election to the National Academy of Sciences, or NAS. Membership in the NAS is rare. According to the Congressional Research Service, there are 6.9 million scientists in the U.S. However, there are only...

Carbon monoxide detectors could warn of extraterrestrial life

Carbon monoxide detectors in our homes warn of a dangerous buildup of that colorless, odorless gas we normally associate with death. Astronomers, too, have generally assumed that a build-up of carbon monoxide in a planet’s atmosphere would be a sure sign of lifelessness. Now, a UC Riverside-led research team is arguing the opposite: celestial carbon...
| Astrobiology

Superbloom? If you say so

Southern California is having a great wildflower year but is it really a superbloom? "The term ‘superbloom’ is a media construct with no botanical or ecological origin,” said Cameron Barrows, an associate research ecologist at UC Riverside’s Center for Conservation Biology. Richard Minnich, a professor of earth sciences at UC Riverside, and author of the...

New NASA research consortium to tackle life's origins

Did life on Earth originate in Darwin's warm little pond, on a sunbaked shore, or where hot waters vent into the deep ocean? And could a similar emergence have played out on other bodies in our solar system or planets far beyond? These questions lie at the center of research in NASA's new Prebiotic Chemistry...
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