New results on Martian meteorite support hypothesisthat life can jump between planets

According to one version of the "panspermia" theory, life on Earth could originally have arrived here by way of meteorites from Mars, where conditions early in the history of the solar system are thought to have been more favorable for the creation of life from nonliving ingredients.

Astronomers improve "cosmic yardstick" by measuringdistance to star in Gemini with Palomar Testbed Interferometer

Researchers using the testbed interferometer at Palomar Observatory have achieved the best-ever distance measurement to a type of star known as a Cepheid variable. The new results improve the "cosmic yardstick" used to infer the size and age of the universe.

Packard Foundation Gives Caltech $1 Million

Caltech receives a $1 million grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Science Program.

East and West Antarctica once began separating but then stopped, new research shows

PASADENA—Earth was well on its way to having two Antarcticas long ago, but a tectonic separation between the eastern and western portions of the continent suddenly stopped after 17 million years of spreading, researchers say.

Astrobiologists should look for both water and energy sources when searching for life on other worlds, researcher says

PASADENA—When planetary scientists first saw evidence of a water ocean beneath the frozen surface of Europa, everyone immediately began pondering the likelihood that the Jovian moon could harbor advanced life forms—perhaps even fishlike creatures.

But last summer a group of planetary scientists from the California Institute of Technology and Jet Propulsion Laboratory threw water on the theory—so to speak—when they took a novel approach and concluded that advanced life forms were not likely.

Snowball Earth episode 2.4 billion years ago was hard on life, but good for modern industrial economy, research shows

For the primitive organisms unlucky enough to be around 2.4 billion years ago, the first global freeze was a real wipeout, likely the worst in the history of life on Earth. Few of the organisms escaped extinction, and those that did were forced into an evolutionary bottleneck that altered the diversity of life for eons.

Thunderstorms found to be an energy source for Jupiter's Great Red Spot

PASADENA-Using data from the Galileo spacecraft currently in orbit around Jupiter, scientists have discovered that thunderstorms beneath the upper cloud cover are supplying energy to the planet's colorful large-scale weather patterns-including the 300-year-old Great Red Spot.

Largest Explosions in the Universe May Come from the Death of Massive Stars

Cosmic gamma-ray bursts, the brightest known explosions in the universe, may come from the fiery deaths of very massive stars in supernova explosions, a team of astronomers said today.

Clare Boothe Luce Professorship Awarded to Caltech

PASADENA—The California Institute of Technology is pleased to announce a recent grant of $498,427, in support of a five-year Clare Boothe Luce Professorship in geobiology from the Henry Luce Foundation. Dr. Dianne Newman has been appointed to the position.

Newman's expertise in microbiology and geochemistry will allow her to explore a wide range of problems, as well as collaborate with a variety of faculty members.

Caltech joins effort to extend capabilities of major observatories

The California Institute of Technology will participate in a multi-institutional effort, funded by the National Science Foundation, to advance the field of adaptive optics, which promises to revolutionize astronomy.

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