Scarps and craters reveal moon's dynamic side

During their 1972 mission to the moon, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt tried to ascend a steep rise in the lunar rover. The rover could not make it, so the pair drove up the incline in a zigzag pattern. The rise, it was later found, is the lobate scarp of a lunar thrust fault — one of many such features that, thanks to detailed images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), are now known to occur across the moon’s surface. In a new study, researchers suggest these faults were formed by the same gravitational forces that cause the rise and fall of tides on Earth.

19 Feb 2016

Comment: Weathering a perfect storm from space

Severe space-weather events have happened in the past, and they’ll happen again in the future. Will we be prepared?


15 Feb 2016

Benchmarks: February 1962 and 1984: John Glenn and Bruce McCandless make space flight history

On the morning of Feb. 20, 1962, John H. Glenn sat inside the Mercury Friendship 7 space capsule, perched atop a rocket that had initially been designed to deliver nuclear warheads to the far ends of the world. That rocket would propel Glenn into space, and into the history books, as the first American to orbit Earth. 
07 Feb 2016

Jupiter's shrinking Great Red Spot

Like a kid sitting for her annual school portrait, Jupiter lines up with the Hubble Space Telescope for a series of photographs once a year. The images capture a broad range of features, including winds, clouds, storms and atmospheric patterns, and are used to create yearly maps of the gas giant to study how it changes over time.
05 Feb 2016

Fire-fountain carbon sheds light on lunar origins

The moon was once thought to be virtually devoid of water and other volatile materials — a presumed consequence of extreme heating during its formation. But a recent study of lunar volcanic glasses, from samples brought back by the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, is adding to the growing stack of recent evidence suggesting the moon is not the volatile-free place scientists once suspected. The findings bring us one step closer to understanding the moon’s origins.

03 Feb 2016

What are the odds?: Automated system calculates the likelihood that asteroids will hit Earth

By some estimates, Earth is pelted each year by tens of thousands of asteroids — from souvenir-sized nuggets 10 grams and up to the occasional meters-wide boulder. Spotting larger Earth-bound impactors that could cause serious destruction, while they’re still in space, has been a priority of the planetary science community for years. But many space objects are small enough that they can only be detected days or hours before impact — if at all. In a new study, scientists have tested and automated a new technique called systematic ranging that’s intended to rapidly calculate the probability — from only a handful of observations — that newly discovered asteroids will hit Earth.

26 Jan 2016

Red Planet Roundup: January 2016

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, five spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.
14 Jan 2016

Meteorites might have created Earth’s earliest continents

Massive meteorite impacts on Earth are destructive events, gouging enormous craters in the crust and raining debris over the planet’s surface. But such huge impacts may have also created some of its earliest continental kernels, called cratons, during Archean times.
08 Jan 2016

Rainbows reclassified

Rainbows — those arches of color that streak across wet skies — are recognizable to almost everyone. Our understanding of rainbows, though, particularly how they form and the diversity of shapes they can take, is still fuzzy.

21 Dec 2015

Enceladus' extremely alkaline underground ocean

Saturn’s moon Enceladus is home to a vast underground ocean that erupts to the surface at the moon’s south pole in a giant plume of gas, ice and dust. Scientists studying observational data of this plume collected by the Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, have recently learned more about the chemistry of Enceladus’ hidden ocean. 
24 Nov 2015