How Hot is Too Hot for Earth-Style Life?

Posted on Sept. 15, 2016

Prof. Tina Treude will board the ship mid October to measure the activity of microorganisms (sulfate reduction and methanogenesis) in sediments recovered from deep drilling to study their upper temperature limits. She will be using radioisotope techniques (feed radioactive sulfate and bicarbonate to the microbes) to determine how fast they convert these substances into hydrogen sulfide and methane, respectively. This is a neat technique to track the activity of microorganisms in natural settings. Sulfate reduction and methanogenesis are classical microbial metabolisms that we expect to find in the deep subsurface. Both processes can be involved in the degradation of organic matter or chemosynthesis. It is, however, unknown if they persist in the deep subsurface at high temperatures (up to 120-140 °C). The drill site in the Nankai Trough is the ideal place to test the natural upper temperature limit of sulfate reduction and methanogenesis. Prof. Treude hopes to learn a lot from these studies about limits of life (present and past) on Earth and in potential extraterrestrial habitats.

A Cosmic Comet Breakup

Posted on Sept. 15, 2016

Professor David Jewitt and his and his colleagues used Hubble to track the fragments of Comet 332P/Ikeya-Murakami, as they spread and break off the nucleus.

Researchers from NASA's THEMIS mission observe the northern lights dancing to the rhythm of Earth's magnetic field. Using a combination of five spacecraft and ground-based sensors and cameras across North America, a recent study published in Nature Physics showed that the aurora brightens and dims in lock step with vibrating loops called magnetic field lines that surround our planet.

A recent international study in Nature Physics, featuring UCLA EPSS researchers, used data from the NASA THEMIS spacecraft to link Earth's magnetic field motion to the varying brightness of the northern lights.

If you’ve never seen the Moon through a telescope before, here’s your chance. Scientists from UCLA’s Institute for Planets and Exoplanets will offer free views of the Moon on Saturday, October 8th, the official 2016 International Observe the Moon Night. In addition to being able to look through the eyepiece, actual samples from the Moon will be available for your inspection and lunar experts will be on-hand to answer your questions about Earth’s nearest neighbor. Viewing will start at 7pm from atop the Mathematical Sciences building and end about 9pm.

Cool Facts: the Moon is 2159 miles in diameter and 240,000 miles away. It has about 1% of the Earth’s mass and its atmosphere is a nearly perfect vacuum, but the polar regions may hold ice capable of sustaining future human colonies. The Moon's surface holds a record of solar system time, with the largest craters dating back billions of years.

For more information visit the Planets Website & the Observe the Moonlight website

Beyoncé probably never considered repurposing her powerful song “Formation” for an earthquake preparedness anthem. It’s also hard to imagine the rapper Macklemore ever reshaping his parody “Thrift Shop” into an ode to the Coriolis effect. But those are two of the entertaining student-made music videos that have appeared over the years in UCLA professor Aradhna Tripati’s classroom film festivals in “Intro to Oceanography.

Just before the spacecraft Juno finishes a five-year trip to Jupiter on Monday, NASA has decided to extend the missions of nine older robotic explorers that have lived beyond original expectations.

The agency announced the decision on Friday, saying the nine are still producing bounties of observations for scientists.

Professor Schlichting is a theorist and observer in planetary astrophysics who works primarily on understanding planetary origins. She received her PhD from Caltech in 2009, and following a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship in residence at UCLA, she obtained a faculty position at MIT in 2013. She has recently come back to UCLA as Associate Professor in EPSS. She has won numerous awards in her young career, including the naming of asteroid 9522 Schlichting by the International Astronomical Union.