Curiosity finds ‘complex chemistry’ in Martian soil

Two of the scoop marks in the sand drift called Rocknest, where samples were taken for analysis. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Malin Space Science Systems

After a couple of weeks filled with rumour and speculation, the much-anticipated latest findings from the Curiosity rover were presented yesterday morning at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco. So, has Curiosity found organics yet or not?

Read MoreCuriosity finds ‘complex chemistry’ in Martian soil

Organic-covered ice deposits discovered on Mercury

Map showing the location of the radar-bright ice deposits discovered by the MESSENGER spacecraft at Mercury’s north pole. Credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Carnegie Institution of Washington / National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Arecibo Observatory

Well, who would have thought? Water ice on Mercury, that scorched little planet closest to the Sun? That’s just what scientists have found, as well as organic material, at Mercury’s north pole, it was announced yesterday.

Read MoreOrganic-covered ice deposits discovered on Mercury

Planets orbiting dying stars are probably dead too

Planets orbiting white dwarf or brown dwarf stars may not be good candidates for life, a new study shows. Credit: NASA / S. Charbinet

If you are searching for other inhabited worlds, almost any kind of star may do according to current findings, except perhaps for white dwarfs. As it turns out, planets orbiting these dying stars, as well as brown dwarfs, are probably very poor candidates for life.

Read MorePlanets orbiting dying stars are probably dead too

Stunning new views of swirling storms and hexagon at Saturn’s north pole

The dramatic, swirling storms at Saturn’s north pole. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

Addendum: there is also now a beautiful colour version of one of Cassini’s hexagon photos here, thanks to Jason Major.

The Cassini spacecraft has been sending back amazing images of Saturn and its moons on a regular basis, and some new ones just taken yesterday are no exception.

Read MoreStunning new views of swirling storms and hexagon at Saturn’s north pole

Microbial life found thriving under Antarctic lake ice: an analogue for Europa?

The ice-covered surface of Lake Vida in Antarctica; in the deep, dark water below, an amazing microbial exosystem thrives. Credit: Bernd Wagner / University of Cologne, Germany

A new discovery here on Earth may have implications for the search for life elsewhere, in particular icy waterworlds like Jupiter’s moon Europa.

Read MoreMicrobial life found thriving under Antarctic lake ice: an analogue for Europa?