SPACE

space

Red Planet Roundup: May 2015

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, five spacecraft in orbit above it, and scientists back here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced almost weekly. Here are a few of the latest updates.

15 May 2015

Comet water unlike Earth's

Scientists have long suspected that much of the water that fills our planet’s oceans may have come from asteroids or comets that collided with the early Earth. Now, recently reported data from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, which landed its Philae probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November, appears to favor an asteroid origin story for Earth’s water.

10 May 2015

Mysterious rapid radio burst captured live

Last year, astronomers received a signal from the depths of the cosmos: a fleeting pulse of intense electromagnetic radiation known as a fast radio burst (or FRB). First discovered in 2007, these millisecond blasts occur sporadically and continue to baffle astronomers. Now, for the first time, an FRB has been caught red-handed.

29 Apr 2015

Two new looks at Titan's dunes

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is covered with extensive fields of sand dunes around its equator. From a distance, the wind-swept landscape looks similar to those seen on Earth, Mars and Venus, but new research suggests that dune formation on Titan may require different conditions than previously thought.

31 Mar 2015

A journey to Pluto and beyond with New Horizons

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, the first mission to Pluto, will reach the former planet on July 14, 2015. After that, it will fly by the Kuiper Belt to explore the most distant bodies in the solar system.

22 Mar 2015

Red Planet Roundup: March 2015

NASA’s Curiosity rover found evidence that one or more large and long-lasting lakes probably filled Gale Crater in the planet’s warmer and wetter early history. While investigating the lower slopes of Mount Sharp recently at an outcrop called the Murray Formation, the rover photographed thick rock stacks featuring numerous layers of lithified sediment. Such stacks are typical of lake environments, where sediments slowly settle to the bottom and transform into rock over time.

15 Mar 2015

Geomedia: Books: To Tiktaalik and beyond

In 2008, Neil Shubin penned the terrific, “Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body,” in which he explored the stories of deep time as they are written in the details of our bodily architecture. As both a professor of anatomy and the paleontologist who discovered Tiktaalik, a transitional fossil between fish and amphibians, Shubin was ideally positioned to tell this tale.

 
18 Feb 2015

Plate tectonics seen on Europa

Earth is no longer the only body in the solar system where plate tectonics operates, according to new research reported in Nature Geoscience. 

05 Feb 2015

Conjunction injunction: Recent and future planetary alignments

February 1962: The five planets visible to the naked eye, as well as the sun and moon, all appeared within 17 degrees of each other in the sky. A concurrent solar eclipse and new moon made it possible to view the planets.

04 Feb 2015

Geomedia: Books: A brief history of our cosmic origins

In the 1980 television show “Cosmos,” astronomer Carl Sagan famously noted: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” This scientifically and philosophically profound concept — that we are starstuff through and through — has been known for less than 50 years, and the history of its discovery was fraught with naysayers.

21 Jan 2015

Pages