Using only two months of data, the GOCE gravity-tracking satellite has built the first-ever full map of Earth's gravitational field.
The map, called a geoid, reflects the bumps and valleys of Earth's gravitational effects. The map shows what the Earth would look like if it was covered in an ocean dictated by gravity, as the European Space Agency explains. It's not as smooth as you might think -- gravity is slightly different in different parts of the globe.
The super-accurate Earth-mapping satellite TanDEM-X has beamed back its first images, and they're detailed enough to show waves breaking in the Indian Ocean.
The German satellite is in excellent health and ready to team up with the TerraSAR-X satellite to create the most precise world maps ever made, BBC reports.
A thin film of water ice and organic materials coats the space rock named 24 Themis, according to a study released today. That discovery marks the first-ever direct detection of water ice on an asteroid, and adds evidence to theories about how asteroids could have brought water and organic material to a primordial Earth.
A NASA telescope on Hawaii's Mauna Kea helped scientists gauge the spectrum of infrared sunlight reflected by 24 Themis. Their findings revealed a spectrum consistent with both frozen water and organic material on the 124-mile-wide asteroid, which sits halfway between Mars and Jupiter.
It's the 40th anniversary of Earth Day today. To honor our beloved planet, it's nice sometimes to stop and envy the view enjoyed by such a tiny slice of humanity: the astronauts. Here we've compiled some of our favorite views of Earth from space.
Here's one genius computer program you might consider pushing virally for science's sake. The "Quake Catchers" program aims to make earthquake detection a lot easier and cheaper by taking advantage of accelerometers built into MacBooks and other newer laptops, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Our solar system's 'hood may get a bit rougher sometime during the next 1.5 million years. An astronomer has given an 86 percent chance for a neighboring star to smash into the frozen Oort Cloud surrounding the outskirts of the solar system, and may scatter some comets toward Earth, Technology Review reports.
Life on Earth first came out of the oceans, but the water itself may have originated from extraterrestrial space rocks. A new study points to a turbulent period when the solar system's giant planets hurled chunks of icy rubble in Earth's direction.
This goes against the more favored scientific theory that Earth's oceans and atmosphere formed from elements within the planet interior, around 4.5 billion years ago. The Nature study argues that the primordial temperatures never dropped enough to condense both volatile elements and water alike, and that the waters of our blue planet must have arrived during a later period of planet building, about one hundred million years after Earth was formed.
Astronomers and students from the University of Khartoum form a line half a mile wide to comb the Nubian Desert for tiny fragments of a rare asteroid.
Peter Jenniskens/NASA Ames Research Center/SETI
On October 7, 2008,shortly before dawn in northern Sudan, a trucker named Omar Fadul el Mula was praying at a remote teahouse in the Nubian Desert when a bright flash lit up the landscape. It was as if the world had switched from night to day. He sprung to his feet, ran around the small building, and saw a huge trail of dust and debris stretched high in the sky.
Human activity has widely affected our planet, reshaping surfaces, moving or extinguishing species, and warming the air and water. Now scientists say our reach has been extended even further -- warming oceans may even start to shift the Earth's axis of rotation.
Congress charged NASA with finding 90 percent of nearby space rocks greater than 140 meters (460 ft) by 2020. Now the National Research Council warns that the space agency will fall short of that goal without more funding.