Twitches of the Cosmic Line: Exoplanets, Habitability and the Outer Limits of Biochemical Potential

The relentless pressures of survival have shaped the panoply of life on Earth throughout the ages. Life has endured oppressive heat, extreme volcanism, deep freezes, vicious asteroid impacts, perhaps even gamma ray bursts, and multiple mass extinction events. Yet, as resilient and adaptive as biology has proven, every organism that has ever been, owes its […]

The Aftermath of Genesis: Quasars Light the Way

The discovery of ‘quasi-stellar radio sources’ in 1963 (abbreviated as ‘quasars’ in 1964 by Hong-Yee Chiu) sparked a paradigm shift in our conceptual understanding of the universe. One of the most important realisations brought about by quasar research is that black holes are more than theoretical constructs theorised by John Michell in 1783 and later […]

Heavens for Pennies: Voyager’s Enduring Legacy

As NASA’s Voyager spacecraft explore the outer boundaries of the Solar System, transmitting vital data across billions of kilometres to the antennas of the Deep Space Network, their pioneering legacy throws into sharp relief a disturbing reality. The forces of political and economic expediency, along with lurking indifference are threatening the grand human adventure of […]

Sharp Eye on a Distant Hunger Game: Telescope Network’s Quasar Milestone

It can be difficult to comprehend the sheer savagery witnessed in the most extreme regions of the universe. Striking evidence of such violence comes in the form of quasars, the most intense X-ray and visible light sources known to science. Larger quasars are bi-products of supermassive black holes – many millions of star masses worth […]

On Curious Shoulders: Mars Rover Carries the Weight of the Future

JPL’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission has entered “approach phase,” according to Mission Manager Arthur Amador. Come arrival day, mission controllers will be biting their fingernails and wiping beads of nervous sweat from their brows, during what engineers describe as, “Seven Minutes of Terror.” In light of deep cuts to NASA’s Mars exploration budget, MSL’s […]