Skip to main content

Stories by Caleb A. Scharf

Has An Exomoon Been Found?

Intriguing data from an event in 2007 hints at an exomoon forming around a giant planet in a youthful star system 420 light years from Earth.

January 27, 2015 — Caleb A. Scharf
Notes From The Frontier: Life’s Origins

Notes From The Frontier: Life’s Origins

I spent some of last week at a fascinating and lively symposium on the origins of life and the search for life in the universe, held at the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology...

January 21, 2015 — Caleb A. Scharf

NASA's Dawn Mission Captures New Image of Dwarf Planet Ceres

NASA’s Dawn mission, having performed remarkably at the asteroid Vesta, is homing in on Ceres. The spacecraft’s ion engines will bring it to a capture orbit around this 590 mile diameter dwarf planet on March 6th, 2015 – at a distance some 2.5 times further from the Sun than the Earth...

January 20, 2015 — Caleb A. Scharf
Lost And Found On Mars

Lost And Found On Mars

Lost, presumed crashed, the Beagle-2 lander is finally located on Mars. Back in December 2003 a bold and decidedly British robotic device was released from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express orbiter...

January 16, 2015 — Caleb A. Scharf
Will We Find Extraterrestrial Life In 2015?

Will We Find Extraterrestrial Life In 2015?

Probably not, but just possibly yes. One of the reasons that the search for life elsewhere in the universe is so exciting is that it would take only one chance discovery, one lucky break, for all the walls to come tumbling down...

December 29, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf
Mars, Ancient Water, Deep Hydrogen, and Life

Mars, Ancient Water, Deep Hydrogen, and Life

Two billion year-old water pockets and a revised deep hydrogen content are good news for Earth’s vast subsurface biosphere, and could offer clues to life on Mars and much further beyond...

December 18, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf
Comet 67P Only Looks Gray, It’s Actually Black

Comet 67P Only Looks Gray, It’s Actually Black

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission has now released the first narrow-angle color composite image of Comet 67P – taken through a set of red, green, and blue filters.

December 12, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Big Mirrors, High Hopes: Extremely Large Telescope Is A Go

In astronomy, bigger is almost always better. The size of a telescope’s aperture (or primary optical element) not only determines how many pesky little photons it can capture, but also the ultimate resolution of the image that can be formed...

December 9, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Alien Yet Familiar: Following Curiosity Across Mars

822 Martian days after landing, NASA’s Curiosity rover, carrying the Mars Science Laboratory, continues on its extraordinary journey across landscapes that are both utterly alien, and remarkably familiar...

November 28, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf
The Cusp of Knowing and the Evolution of Science

The Cusp of Knowing and the Evolution of Science

In a nice piece on his Scientific American blog ‘Cross-Check‘, John Horgan recently gave me some much appreciated praise, whilst provoking discussion on a contentious subject – whether or not big science as we’ve known it ‘may be coming to an end’ (John’s words)...

November 25, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

That Comet? That's You, 4.5 Billion Years Ago

As the European Space Agency’s Philae lander bounced and settled onto the surface of comet 67P/C-G’s crumbly nucleus it wasn’t just space exploration, it was time travel...

November 13, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

The Surreal Task of Landing on a Comet

On November 12th 2014 the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission will eject the small robotic lander Philae on a trajectory that should take it down to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (or 67P/C-P for short)...

November 4, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Failure to Launch Is Always An Option

Do not try this at home. A Russian Proton-M launch goes wrong – and it can happen to anyone (wait for the shock wave). A rocket is a controlled bomb.

October 29, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Complex Life Owes Its Existence To Parasites?

Is complex life rare in the cosmos? The idea that it could be rests on the observation that the existence of life like us – with large, energy hungry, complicated cells – may be contingent on a number of very specific and unlikely factors in the history of the Earth...

October 24, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Recent Lunar Discoveries Reveal a "New Moon"

Think you know about the Moon? I did, but then I started reading ‘The New Moon: Water, Exploration, and Future Habitation‘ (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and realized that my knowledge amounted to a teensy scrap of lunar dust...

October 21, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Interstellar Environments May Breed Complex Organic Molecules

If biologically important organic molecules like amino acids could form in interstellar space, the implications would be enormous. On the Earth we find plenty of amino acid species inside certain types of meteorites, so at a minimum these compounds can form during the assembly of a proto-stellar, proto-planetary system (at least this one) and end [...]..

September 30, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf

Two New Arrivals Send Back Pictures Of Mars

The skies of Mars just got a little more crowded. On September 21st, 2014 NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) fired its engines for some 33 minutes in order to swing into a safe orbit...

September 26, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf
C-SPAN’s ‘After Words’ Discusses Our Cosmic Status

C-SPAN’s ‘After Words’ Discusses Our Cosmic Status

Ever feel that broadcast TV fails to tackle the big issues? I don’t mean the state of the economy, healthcare, the future of clean energy, or what B-list celebrities had for breakfast – I mean the Really Big Issues...

September 23, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf
The Biggest Cosmological Problem Is…

The Biggest Cosmological Problem Is…

…living in a place that makes doing cosmology hard. Let’s backtrack a little. Unless you’ve been living under a particularly thick and insulating rock you’ll know that in recent months the world of experimental cosmology (what would have previously been called observational cosmology, or just plain old astronomy) has been on tenterhooks waiting to see [...]..

September 22, 2014 — Caleb A. Scharf
Scroll To Top