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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

News

2014

NASA’s MAVEN mission scientists identify links in chain leading to Mars atmospheric loss

December 15, 2014

Early discoveries by NASA’s newest Mars orbiter are starting to reveal key features about the loss of the planet’s atmosphere to space over time. The findings are among the first returns from NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which achieved orbit Sept. 21 and entered its science phase on Nov. 16. The observations […]

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NASA awards CU-Boulder-led team $7 million to study origins, evolution of life in universe

October 7, 2014

The team, led by CU-Boulder Professor Alexis Templeton of the geological sciences department, will be researching what scientists call “rock-powered life.” Rocky planets store enormous amounts of chemical energy, that, when released through the interaction of rocks and water, have the ability to power living systems on Earth as well as on other planets like Mars, said Templeton, principal investigator on the effort.

Scientists believe that habitable or potentially inhabited environments may exist in the subsurface of Mars as well as the interiors of Europa and Ganymede — two of the moons of Jupiter — and Triton, a moon of Neptune, said CU-Boulder Research Associate Thomas McCollom of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, a co-investigator on the effort. Rather than photosynthesis, the researchers believe a number of life forms in the solar system and perhaps beyond may be powered by “chemosynthesis,” a process that does not require sunlight, he said.

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