One of the world’s most active volcanoes has been seen by only a handful of humans, because it lies about 1.5 kilometers below the surface of the Pacific Ocean and 470 kilometers west of the Oregon-Washington border. Nevertheless, the Axial Seamount on the Juan de Fuca Ridge is one of the best studied of all volcanoes, thanks to the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), a global network of seven arrays consisting of more than 800 instruments.
A summary of the results of the winter 2015 Norwegian Young Sea ICE Expedition (N-ICE), during which the Lance, a Norwegian research vessel, drifted for six months with the shrinking Arctic sea ice reaching as far as 83 degrees north. More than 70 scientists from 10 countries participated in the second-only winter field survey of the Arctic ice pack, and what they found surprised them.
Rosetta’s Philae lander made the first landing on the surface of a comet when it touched down on Nov. 12, 2014, three months after Rosetta began orbiting 67P. The landing, though historic, did not go as planned, and Philae was unable to accomplish much of the scientific program that had been scheduled for its 10 instruments.
Rosetta crashed onto the surface of a comet on Sept. 30, bringing its mission to an end, though the scientific analysis and discoveries will continue for decades. We examine a few of the biggest surprises and highlights of Rosetta’s scientific journey so far.
All of the names associated with the Rosetta mission, including the orbiter itself, the lander and all of the place names coined by mission scientists on 67P, refer to ancient Egyptian sites or deities, in homage to the Egyptian origin of the Rosetta Stone and Philae obelisk.
LADEE — pronounced “laddie” and short for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer — was among the shortest-lived of NASA’s successful satellites. Launched on Sept. 7, 2013, it crashed onto the moon’s surface, as intended, on April 17, 2014, after six months orbiting the moon. Data collected by LADEE have already greatly expanded our understanding of the atmosphere of the moon and other bodies in the solar system; the spacecraft also made a number of unexpected discoveries, some of which were presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco last December.
What is known about the caper is that three inmates — brothers Clarence and John Anglin, along with Frank Morris — dug their way out of the supposedly escape-proof federal penitentiary, located in San Francisco Bay, on the night of June 11, 1962. Leaving realistic-looking heads sculpted from papier maché, complete with real hair, in their bunks as dummies, the convicts made their way to the shoreline with a makeshift raft assembled mostly from several dozen rubber raincoats. They slipped off the island into dense fog and were never seen or heard from again.
A recently launched satellite is now measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide with greater precision than ever before. Launched on July 2, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) is already mapping levels of carbon dioxide, the presence of which in the air constantly varies by region and over time. It has also validated a new technique of analysis that was not even contemplated when the mission was planned, according to scientists who discussed the mission at a press conference during the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco.
The magnitude-6 earthquake that shook buildings and rattled wineries in California’s Napa Valley on Aug. 24, 2014, continues to affect homes in at least one neighborhood in the city of Napa more than three months later. The quake’s epicenter was about 6 kilometers south of the city, but post-quake movement, or afterslip, along the principal fault line to the north of the epicenter is ongoing, according to a fast-track report prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Scientists involved in producing the 51-page report — released to the public on Tuesday — discussed it at a press conference at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.