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 Earth-like planet divided into stripes


Astronomers develop ‘decoder’ to gauge exoplanet climate

After examining a dozen types of suns and a roster of planet surfaces, Cornell astronomers have developed a practical model – an environmental color “decoder” – to tease out climate clues for potentially habitable exoplanets in galaxies far away.

 Woman in dark room gazing into computer screen


Cornell Atkinson awards five more COVID-19 rapid grants

The proliferation of medical misinformation on social media and the human experience of social distancing are among the pandemic-related topics to be studied with Rapid Response Fund grants from the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.

 Blue hills and a horizon


Long-dead stars can yield clues to life in the cosmos

The next generation of powerful Earth- and space-based telescopes will be able to hunt distant solar systems for evidence of life on Earth-like exoplanets – particularly those that chaperone burned-out stars known as white dwarfs.

The chemical properties of those far-off worlds could indicate that life exists there. To help future scientists make sense of what their telescopes are showing them, Cornell astronomers have developed a spectral field guide for these rocky worlds.

 Purple ball near a flaming sphere


Researchers use ‘hot Jupiter’ data to mine exoplanet chemistry

After spotting a curious pattern in scientific papers – they described exoplanets as being cooler than expected – Cornell astronomers have improved a mathematical model to accurately gauge the temperatures of planets from solar systems hundreds of light-years away.

 Man fishing with net


Chemists create faster-degrading plastic for marine uses

“This material could reduce persistent plastic accumulation in the environment.”
 Exoplanet Kepler-62f


Earth’s own evolution used as guide to hunt exoplanets

Cornell astronomers have created five models representing key points from our planet’s evolution, like chemical snapshots through Earth’s own geologic epochs.

They will use them as spectral templates in the hunt for Earth-like planets in distant solar systems in the approaching new era of powerful telescopes.

 Omar Padilla-Vélez and Renee Sifri examine the tensile strength of a high-density polyethylene “dog bone.”


‘Triangle 2’ plastic containers may see environmental makeover

Recyclable plastic containers with the No. 2 designation could become even more popular for manufacturers as plastic milk jugs, dish soap containers and shampoo bottles may soon get an environmental makeover.

 The domed wind and thermal shield covers NASA InSight lander's seismometer


InSight detects gravity waves, low rumbles and devilish dust

Don Banfield ‘87, principal research scientist at the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, is the science lead for a suite of sensors aboard InSight.
 Earth, shown faintly in space


Iconic ‘pale blue dot’ photo – Carl Sagan’s idea – turns 30

The photo of Earth was taken at a distance of 3.7 billion miles by the NASA spacecraft Voyager 1.
 Earth-sized planets at the TRAPPIST-1 star


After dust-busting the cosmos, Spitzer telescope’s mission ends

The Spitzer Space Telescope – with its Cornell-developed infrared spectrograph instrument – has been peering through murky cosmic dust to study the distant heavens for 16 years. Originally scheduled to last 2.5 years, the mission officially will end Jan. 30.

Spitzer was the final mission of NASA’s Great Observatories program. The infrared spectrograph portion of the mission ended in 2010.

 Black and white close up of Comet 67P


Dancing debris, moveable landscape shape Comet 67P

A comet once thought to be a quiet, dirty snowball cruising through the solar system becomes quite active when seen up close.
 Yervant Terzian


Yervant Terzian, who explored matter between stars, dies at 80

Yervant Terzian, the Tisch Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Astronomy, who studied the physical matter between stars, dedicated his career to education and chaired the department for two decades, died Nov. 25 in Ithaca. Terzian was 80.

 Artist's rendition of the surface of Proxima b


Looking for exoplanet life in all the right spectra

A Cornell senior has come up with a way to discern life on exoplanets: a spectral field guide.
 Artistic impression of Proxima b


Looking for exoplanet life in all the right spectra

A Cornell senior has come up with a way to discern life on exoplanets loitering in other cosmic neighborhoods: a spectral field guide.
 Steve Squyres


Planetary scientist Steve Squyres to retire from Cornell

Steve Squyres ’78, Ph.D. ’81, the James A. Weeks Professor of Physical Sciences, who has taught astronomy, conducted research and chaperoned two Mars rovers on their 300 million-mile journey to Earth’s rust-colored neighbor, will retire from Cornell Sept. 22.

 Lakes on Titan


Explosive nitrogen created craters that pock Saturn moon Titan

Scientists solve mystery of steep ridges around Titan's methane lakes.
 Red sun and exoplanet with a biofluorescent glow, with a person in a spacesuit hovering above


Fluorescent glow may reveal hidden life in the cosmos

Astronomers seeking life on distant planets may want to go for the glow.

Harsh ultraviolet radiation flares from red suns, once thought to destroy surface life on planets, might help uncover hidden biospheres. Their radiation could trigger a protective glow from life on exoplanets called biofluorescence, according to new Cornell research.

 Artist's rendition of the GJ357 planet system


TESS satellite uncovers its ‘first nearby super-Earth’

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a mission designed to comb the heavens for exoplanets, has discovered its first potentially habitable world outside of our own solar system – and an international team of astronomers has characterized the super-Earth, about 31 light-years away.

 Image of campus from the columns outside Baker Lab


Three A&S faculty win White House early career awards

The White House has recognized four Cornell faculty members – Thomas Hartman, Jenny Kao-Kniffin, Kin Fai Mak and Rebecca Slayton – with prestigious 2019 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The awards were announced July 2.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the federal government to scientific and engineering professionals who are in first stages of their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership.

 To understand where exoplanets are in their own evolution, astronomers can use Earth’s biological milestones as a Rosetta stone.


Exoplanet evolution: Astronomers expand cosmic ‘cheat sheet’

Cornell astronomers have reached into nature’s color palette from early Earth to create a cosmic “cheat sheet” for looking at distant worlds. By correlating tints and hues, researchers aim to understand where discovered exoplanets may reasonably fall along their own evolutionary spectrum.