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.
This Thursday, NASA will kick off the largest aerial survey ever undertaken of Earth's polar regions. The effort will help fill a multi-year gap between the satellite missions that usually track changes in ice, and should also help scientists understand how the changing ice sheets might contribute to sea level rise around the world.
NASA's double sledgehammer shot to the moon succeeded early this morning when an empty rocket stage and a lunar probe each crashed into separate craters. But the host of telescopes and other instruments pointed at the impact sites did not immediately spot huge plumes of lunar debris.
Robert Heinlein got it right when he dubbed Earth's moon a harsh mistress. NASA's lunar orbiter examined some craters near the lunar south pole that never see sunlight, and may actually represent the coldest places in the solar system -- not to mention reservoirs of precious water ice.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has conducted an ongoing survey of temperatures on the moon's surface through its Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment. The temperatures in the craters can dip as low as -397 degrees F, the lowest temperatures recorded anywhere in the solar system.
Spacecraft might one day refuel on the moon or Mars using plain old ice. A small rocket flew earlier this month on an environmentally-friendly propellant consisting of aluminum powder and water ice.
The "ALICE" fuel mixture being developed by Purdue University and Pennsylvania State University could someday replace liquid or solid rocket propellants, and possibly enable higher performance as well. The implications for space exploration could also mean accessible fuel reserves at future lunar or Martian outposts, which naturally attract the interest of NASA and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
I generally only have a use for two types of cold water: The wet kind that comes in invigorating showers, and the solid kind that goes in Scotch. Turns out, I've been limiting myself. Researchers claim to have discovered two additional kinds of cold water, types that stay liquid well below zero degrees.
The scientists claim to have found the two types of water in the microscopic cracks that appear in regular ice, but some researchers remain skeptical of the discovery.
This week, new photos of our moon taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showed what we already know: the orbiting rock has a lot of craters, but no signs of life. But scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany have revealed new findings that there is another moon worthy of intensive exploration -- and perhaps even a visit at some future date.
This is going to be a different kind of global warming post, because there's actually some good news to go along with the bad news. Well, not GOOD, but better than previously expected. Unfortunately, the bad news is just as bad as always.
Think you've done the ultimate road trip? Think again. That tour de force can only be rightfully claimed by a team of scientists who spent this winter driving 2,000 miles across East Antarctica -- at a top speed of about 9 miles per hour.
In late December, twelve American and Norwegian scientists set out to complete the second segment of a two-season overland traverse of East Antarctica. This year's expedition began with the team traveling in two groups, with one heading first to 'Camp Winter' to repair the vehicles that were damaged during Season 1 and then driving to the South Pole, and the second group testing equipment at McMurdo Station before meeting up with group one at the South Pole. The entire team then headed to Troll Station, a Norwegian research station located about 150 miles from the East Antarctic coast, stopping at various points along the way to fly unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) missions and drill for ice core samples.
More than 30 years ago, images of the Martian surface taken by the Viking mission orbiters revealed unusual apron-shaped sloping areas at the base of taller geographical features. Researchers analyzing the Viking data puzzled over the features, called lobate debris aprons, which only occurred in the mid-latitude regions of Mars.
The shape of the debris aprons, and the fact that they only occurred in the temperate zone, caused researchers to speculate that they might contain large amounts of water ice. Now, thanks to dramatic improvements in remote sensing technology, that speculation has turned to near certainty.