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The primary objective of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, which will launch in 2011, is to characterize the habitability of a site on Mars through detailed analyses of the composition and geological context of surface materials. Within the framework of established mission goals, we...
The long-term habitability of Earth-like planets requires low orbital eccentricities. A secular perturbation from a distant stellar companion is a very important mechanism in exciting planetary eccentricities, as many of the extrasolar planetary systems are associated with stellar companions....
The high flux of cosmic rays onto the unshielded surface of Mars poses a significant hazard to the survival of martian microbial life. Here, we determined the survival responses of several bacterial strains to ionizing radiation exposure while frozen at a low temperature characteristic of the...
Cyanobacterial colonies produce the radiation-protectant biomolecule scytonemin as part of their response strategy for survival in environmentally stressed conditions in hot and cold deserts. These colonies frequently use sandstone rocks as host matrices for subsurface colonization, which is...
Main sequence M stars pose an interesting problem for astrobiology: their abundance in our galaxy makes them likely targets in the hunt for habitable planets, but their strong chromospheric activity produces high-energy radiation and charged particles that may be detrimental to life. We studied...
The clay mineral montmorillonite is a member of the phyllosilicate group of minerals, which has been detected on martian soil. Montmorillonite catalyzes the condensation of activated monomers to form RNA-like oligomers. Extent of catalysis, that is, the yield of oligomers, and the length of the...
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