A New Moon Forming in the Rings of Saturn?|
April 20, 2014 | NASA
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons.
Possible Exomoon Found|
April 13, 2014 | NASA
NASA-funded researchers have spotted the first signs of an “exomoon,” and though they say it’s impossible to confirm its presence, the finding is a tantalizing first step toward locating others. The discovery was made by watching a chance encounter of objects in our galaxy, which can be witnessed only once.
The Contraction of Mercury|
April 10, 2014 | Carnegie Institution for Science
“Unlike Earth, with its numerous tectonic plates, Mercury has a single rigid, top rocky layer. [...] New global imaging and topographic data from MESSENGER show that the innermost planet has contracted far more than previous estimates.” Quoted from the Carnegie Institution for Science press release.
A Red Mars and a Lunar Eclipse|
April 1, 2014 | New Zealand Herald
This week Earth will overtake Mars in its orbit and will be at one of its closest positions to the planet. That will make Mars especially large and red in the night sky. Then, after midnight on April 15th a lunar eclipse will occur. (Details on the lunar eclipse in a Washington Post article.)
A New Dwarf Planet?|
March 27, 2014 | NASA
“Scientists using ground based observatories have discovered an object that is believed to have the most distant orbit found beyond the known edge of our solar system. Named 2012 VP113, the object is possibly a dwarf planet. [...] A dwarf planet is an object in orbit around the sun that is large enough to have its own gravity pull itself into a spherical, or nearly round, shape.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
The Search for Planet X Fails|
March 20, 2014 | NASA
“After searching hundreds of millions of objects across our sky, NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has turned up no evidence of the hypothesized celestial body in our solar system commonly dubbed Planet X.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
March 16, 2014 | NASA
“Astronomers exploring the disk of gas and dust around a nearby star have uncovered a compact cloud of poisonous gas formed by ongoing rapid-fire collisions among a swarm of icy, comet-like bodies. The researchers suggest the comet swarm is either the remnant of a crash between two icy worlds the size of Mars or frozen debris trapped and concentrated by the gravity of an as-yet-unseen planet.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
Martian Meteorites on Earth|
March 13, 2014 | National Geographic
Researchers believe that the shergottite meteorites found on Earth may have originated from an impact that created the Mojave Crater on Mars.
Flows of Water on Mars?|
March 6, 2014 | NASA
“NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars have returned clues for understanding seasonal features that are the strongest indication of possible liquid water that may exist today on the Red Planet.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
Related: Rocks on Mars
715 New Planets!|
March 4, 2014 | NASA
“NASA’s Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
Geologic Map of Ganymede|
February 20, 2014 |
NASA recently published a geologic map of Ganymede, the largest moon in our solar system.
Kepler Finds a Very Wobbly Planet
February 11, 2014 | NASA
“Imagine living on a planet with seasons so erratic you would hardly know whether to wear Bermuda shorts or a heavy overcoat. [...] The planet, designated Kepler-413b, precesses, or wobbles, wildly on its spin axis, much like a child’s top. The tilt of the planet’s spin axis can vary by as much as 30 degrees over 11 years, leading to rapid and erratic changes in seasons. In contrast, Earth’s rotational precession is 23.5 degrees over 26,000 years. Researchers are amazed that this far-off planet is precessing on a human timescale.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
Spectacular New Crater and Ejecta on Mars|
February 6, 2014 | NASA.gov
“Space rocks hitting Mars excavate fresh craters at a pace of more than 200 per year, but few new Mars scars pack as much visual punch as one seen in a NASA image released today.” Quoted from the NASA press release (February 5, 2014).
Surprise White Rock on Mars|
January 23, 2014 | NASA
While preparing to start robotic arm work on the target “Cape Elizabeth” on Sol 3541 (Jan. 8, 2014), Opportunity encountered a slight surprise — a rock had appeared in the images that had not been there before. This target that has been named “Pinnacle Island” and its origin has been the target of much speculation.
A Star that is Almost Identical to Our Sun|
January 19, 2014 | ESO Observatory
A “solar twin” has been discovered in the Messier 67 star cluster by the the HARPs planet hunter.
Most Popular Items for December|
January 2, 2014 | Geology.com
The Saturn Hexagon?
The Utah Supervolcano
What is Ammolite?
Landslide on an Incredible Scale
Failure of the Midcontinent Rift
Zoom in on the San Andreas Fault
Price of Gold Falling
Size of the Yellowstone Magma Chamber Severely Underestimated?
Salaries and Employment of Recent Geoscience Graduates
The Largest Recorded Fault Slip
How Do They Steer the Horizontal Drill?
Dating Rocks on Mars|
December 29, 2013 | Caltech
“Although researchers have determined the ages of rocks from other planetary bodies, the actual experiments—like analyzing meteorites and moon rocks—have always been done on Earth. Now, for the first time, researchers have successfully determined the age of a Martian rock—with experiments performed on Mars.” Quoted from the Caltech press release.
Learn About Exoplanets|
December 29, 2013 | MIT on YouTube
This video provides a great introduction to exoplanets.
The Temperature Mystery of Planetary Atmospheres|
December 19, 2013 | University of Washington
An atmospheric peculiarity the Earth shares with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune is likely common to billions of planets, and knowing that may help in the search for potentially habitable worlds.
Water Vapor Jets on Europa?|
December 17, 2013 | NASA
“NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has observed water vapor above the frigid south polar region of Jupiter’s moon Europa, providing the first strong evidence of water plumes erupting off the moon’s surface.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
Clay Minerals and a Collision with Europa?
Artistic image by NASA
December 15, 2013 | NASA
“A new analysis of data from NASA’s Galileo mission has revealed clay-type minerals at the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa that appear to have been delivered by a spectacular collision with an asteroid or comet. This is the first time such minerals have been detected on Europa’s surface. The types of space rocks that deliver such minerals typically also often carry organic materials.”
Related: Life on Europa?
Earth and Moon Seen by Passing Juno Spacecraft|
December 15, 2013 | NASA on YouTube.com
“When NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew past Earth on Oct. 9, 2013, it received a boost in speed of more than 8,800 mph (about 7.3 kilometer per second), which set it on course for a July 4, 2016, rendezvous with Jupiter.
One of Juno’s sensors, a special kind of camera optimized to track faint stars, also had a unique view of the Earth-moon system. The result was an intriguing, low-resolution glimpse of what our world would look like to a visitor from afar.” Quoted from the NASA video release.
Seasonal Changes on Mars|
December 12, 2013 | NASA
“NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed to scientists slender dark markings — possibly due to salty water – that advance seasonally down slopes surprisingly close to the Martian equator.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
The Planet that Should Not Be There?|
December 8, 2013 | University of Arizona
“The discovery of a giant planet orbiting its star at 650 times the average Earth-Sun distance has astronomers puzzled over how such a strange system came to be.” Quoted from the University of Arizona press release.
The Saturn Hexagon?|
December 6, 2013 | NASA
“NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has obtained the highest-resolution movie yet of a unique six-sided jet stream, known as the hexagon, around Saturn’s north pole.
This is the first hexagon movie of its kind, using color filters, and the first to show a complete view of the top of Saturn down to about 70 degrees latitude.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
Water Discovered on Five Planets|
December 6, 2013 | NASA
“Two teams of scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant exoplanets. The planets are not the size of Earth, but rather massive worlds known as hot Jupiters because they orbit so close to their stars. ” Quoted from the NASA press release.
First Known Zircon from Mars|
November 21, 2013 | The Australian
“An analysis of one of the 70-odd Martian meteorites discovered so far, a chunk of rock found several years ago by Bedouins in the Sahara Desert, has revealed the first known fragments of zircon from the red planet.” Quoted from The Australian press release.
Related: Meteorite Articles
Converting Methane into Diamonds?|
October 15, 2013 | National Geographic
Intense temperature, pressure and lightning storms on Saturn and Jupiter may be able to convert atmospheric methane into diamonds – producing a rain of diamonds on those planets.
The Impact of Fragmenting a Forest Environment|
October 2, 2013 | New York Times
In 1987, Thailand built a dam on the Khlong Saeng river. As the reservoir filled it transformed over 100 forested hilltops into islands. Now each island, along with its plant and animal inhabitants, is an experiment to test what happens with a forest environment is fragmented.
Searching for Earth’s Twin|
September 30, 2013 | National Geographic
MacArthur Fellow, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at MIT is going to spend her “genius grant” on things that will hopefully help her search the skies for Earth’s twin.
Mars Soil Analysis Reports Several Percent Water
September 29, 2013 | NASA
“The first scoop of soil analyzed by the analytical suite in the belly of NASA’s Curiosity rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain several percent water by weight.”
Quoted from the NASA press release.
No Methane on Mars?|
September 22, 2013 | NASA
“Data from NASA’s Curiosity rover has revealed the Martian environment lacks methane. This is a surprise to researchers because previous data reported by U.S. and international scientists indicated positive detections.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
Related: Rocks on Mars
Repurposing Kepler to Find Unusual Planets|
September 10, 2013 | National Geographic
The Kepler spacecraft found over 100 exoplanets and thousands of exoplanet candidates in four years of operation. After it began to malfunction researchers may be able to repurpose it to find exoplanets new planets by detecting warped starlight.
Lava Planet with an 8.5 Hour Year|
August 28, 2013 | MIT
MIT researchers have discovered a planet that orbits its star in an amazing 8.5 hours. It is so close to that sun that its surface is probably covered with lava.
Want to Visit Mars? Permanently?|
August 12, 2013 | CNN
The Mars One project reports that 30,000 Americans have applied for one-way seats on their 2022 mission to Mars. The application fee is $38.
Related: If you go might find lots of shale, conglomerate and volcanic rocks that remind you of home.
Lowest Mass Exoplanet|
August 7, 2013 | NASA
“An international team of astronomers has imaged a giant planet around the bright star GJ 504. Several times the mass of Jupiter and similar in size, the new world, dubbed GJ 504b, is the lowest-mass planet ever detected around a star like the sun using direct imaging techniques.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
Earth from Saturn|
July 29, 2013 | NASA
“Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two NASA interplanetary spacecraft on July 19 show our planet and its moon as bright beacons from millions of miles away in space.” Quoted from the NASA image release.
A New Moon of Neptune|
July 19, 2013 | NASA
The Hubble Telescope has discovered a new moon of Neptune. The 14th moon is also the smallest – only about 12 miles across.
Did the Lower Crust Flow on Mars?|
July 19, 2013 | Speaking of Geoscience Blog
“In particular, the southeast region of Tharsis bears strong resemblance in structure and topography to eastern Tibet. High topography and thick crust of eastern Tibet produces long, low-gradient plateau margins that may be caused by the flow of weakened lower crust. This has me thinking: if the lower crust flows in Tibet, did it do so on Mars?” Quoted from the Speaking of Geoscience article.
Most Popular: July 1 to July 15|
July 17, 2013 | Geology.com
Caves Discovered by Construction Projects
100 Million Barrel Discovery in the Gulf?
Six Planets – Three in Habitable Zone
Oil Industry Job Profiles
Monsoon Rains and Debris Flows in Arizona
Six Planets – Three in Habitable Zone|
July 12, 2013 | National Science Foundation
“New observations of a star known as Gliese 667C have revealed a system with at least six planets, including a record-breaking three super-Earths orbiting in the star’s “habitable zone” where liquid water could exist on the planets. This is the first planetary system found to have a fully packed habitable zone.” Quoted from the NSF press release.
Naming the Moons of Pluto|
July 7, 2013 | BBC
The International Astronomical Union has approved names for two recently discovered moons of Pluto. They will be named Kerberos and Styx, conforming with a requirement that their names be derived from Greek or Roman mythology.
Three Super-Earths in the Habitable Zone|
June 26, 2013 | BBC
Astronomers have found three super-Earths in the habitable zone of a star, Gliese 667C.
A Mountain Range on Dione?|
June 3, 2013 | NASA
“From a distance, most of the Saturnian moon Dione resembles a bland cueball. Thanks to close-up images of a 500-mile-long mountain on the moon from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, scientists have found more evidence for the idea that Dione was likely active in the past. It could still be active now.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
First Global Topographic Map of Titan|
May 27, 2013 | NASA
“Scientists have created the first global topographic map of Saturn’s moon Titan, giving researchers a valuable tool for learning more about one of the most Earth-like and interesting worlds in the solar system.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
May 1 to May 15 Most Popular|
May 16, 2013 | Geology.com
Why Natural Gas Cars are Selling Slowly
What is Sunstone?
Natural Gas Could Kill Fuel Diversity
Large Hurricane on Saturn
Who Becomes Dominant After a Mass Extinction?
Diamond Dust over Saskatoon
The Bone Worm
The Atmospheres of Exoplanets|
May 9, 2013 | NASA
In just the past few years astronomers have discovered over 800 exoplanets. Now they are working on methods to evaluate their atmospheres.
Large Hurricane on Saturn|
April 30, 2013 | NASA
“NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first close-up, visible-light views of a behemoth hurricane swirling around Saturn’s north pole. [...] The hurricane’s eye is about 1,250 miles wide, 20 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth.
Meteors Hitting the Rings of Saturn|
April 29, 2013 | NASA
“NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has provided the first direct evidence of small meteoroids breaking into streams of rubble and crashing into Saturn’s rings.” Quoted from the NASA press release.
More Planets in the Habitable Zone
April 19, 2013 | NASA
“NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered two new planetary systems that include three super-Earth-size planets in the “habitable zone,” the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water.” Quoted from the NASA press release.