Morphology of Meteorite Surfaces Ablated by High-Power Lasers: Review and Applications

Under controlled laboratory conditions, lasers represent a source of energy with well-defined parameters suitable for mimicking phenomena such as ablation, disintegration, and plasma formation processes that take place during the hypervelocity atmospheric entry of meteoroids. Furthermore, lasers have also been proposed for employment in future space exploration and planetary defense in a wide range of potential applications. This highlights the importance of an experimental investigation of lasers’ interaction with real samples of interplanetary matter: meteorite specimens. We summarize the results of numerous meteorite laser ablation experiments performed by several laser sources—a femtosecond Ti:Sapphire laser, the multislab ceramic Yb:YAG Bivoj...

Seeking out Moon and Mars superoxides for oxygen farming

The dusty faces of the Moon and Mars conceal unseen hazards for future explorers. Areas of highly oxidising material could be sufficiently reactive that they would produce chemical burns on astronauts’ unprotected skin or lungs. Taking inspiration from a pioneering search for Martian life, a Greek team is developing a device to detect these ‘reactive oxygen species’ – as well as harvest sufficient oxygen from them to keep astronauts breathing indefinitely. Read the full article by following the link Seeking out Moon and Mars superoxides for oxygen farming

Mars: New insights and unresolved questions

Mars exploration motivates the search for extraterrestrial life, the development of space technologies, and the design of human missions and habitations. Here, we seek new insights and pose unresolved questions relating to the natural history of Mars, habitability, robotic and human exploration, planetary protection, and the impacts on human society. Key observations and findings include: high escape rates of early Mars' atmosphere, including loss of water, impact present-day habitability; putative fossils on Mars will likely be ambiguous biomarkers for life; – microbial contamination resulting from human habitation is unavoidable; and based on Mars' current planetary protection category, robotic payload(s)...

The Way forward for the Origin of Life: Prions and Prion-Like Molecules First Hypothesis

In this paper the hypothesis that prions and prion-like molecules could have initiated the chemical evolutionary process which led to the eventual emergence of life is reappraised. The prions first hypothesis is a specific application of the protein-first hypothesis which asserts that protein- based chemical evolution preceded the evolution of genetic encoding processes. This genetics- first hypothesis asserts that an “RNA-world era” came before protein-based chemical evolution and rests on a singular premise that molecules such as RNA, acetyl-CoA, and NAD are relics of a long line of chemical evolutionary processes preceding the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA). Nevertheless,...

Molecules to Microbes

Introduction The Network of Researchers on the Chemical Evolution of Life (NoRCEL, formally NoR HGT & LUCA) was formed in 2013 with a view to collate and communicate the vastly multidisciplinary aspects of the origin of life. From the epoch of earlier frontiers exploration into life’s origins by scientists such as Charles Darwin (1809–1882) until Stanley Miller (1930–2007) performed his electric discharge experiments, the abiding fact is that the answer to how life began could only be found via an integrative approach. One unique selling point of NoRCEL is that we are actively involved in finding and inviting scientists who are...

The Landscape of the Emergence of Life

Open access publication in Life 2017, 7, 27; https://www.mdpi.com/2075-1729/7/2/27 Introduction The time-frame for life on Earth to emerge was thought to have taken no more than 300 million years ; in terms of the geological age of the Universe at approximately 13.8 billion (109) years, this is a relatively short period (~2.17%). The latest research suggests that, after a few 100 million years of accretion of the Solar System at approximately 4.67 billion years , life emerged on Earth somewhere between 4.3 and 3.8 billion years and so the figure of 300 million years is not unreasonable. Even so, with...

The Routes of Emergence of Life from LUCA during the RNA and Viral World: A Conspectus

Open access publication in Life 2015, 5, 1445-1453; doi:10.3390/life5021445 Introduction It is perplexing, the origin of life. This is because understanding the processes of life’s origin is  mind-bogglingly complex. It has been over 60 years since Stanley Miller carried out his world famous “electric discharge” experiment, and the newspapers subsequently heralded “life in a test tube” after he had succeeded in making amino acids from “electrified” primordial gases . To date, we have not even dented the metaphoric surface of the mysteries of the origin of life; for example, we are still grappling with the question of which came first, metabolism,...

NoRCEL Astroscience Exploration Network ASEN

The Astroscience Exploration Network (ASEN) is NoRCEL’s latest innovative initiative and has the objective of creating an African Astroscience Hub. This original concept aims...

International Frontiers of Science Project (iFS)

The essence of the International Frontiers of Sciences (iFS) is promoting the latest discoveries in the field of the origin of life. In the...

NoRCEL Blue Earth Project

NoRCEL Blue Earth Project (NoRCEL BEP)—another new science-in society online/live hybrid event, focussing on issues affecting our Earth . First meeting to be held...

NoRCEL Science Education Institute

NoRCEL Science Education Institute (NoRCEL SCI)—online learning institute aiming at teaching young scientists about the origin of life to diploma level. Launch date to...