During breakfast on June 30, 1908, a man named S.B. Semenov was sitting on a porch at a northern Russian trading post when the sky burst into flames. He looked up and saw the heavens appear to split apart, and he felt as though his shirt was on fire; after a moment, a heavy blow knocked him off his feet and he passed out. The inferno, afterward known as the Tunguska Event, was a high-altitude explosion of a meteor or a comet--but nobody ever found the remains.
Purdue University has a fun simulator called Impact Earth that shows you what would happen if a particular kind of meteorite smashed down from space. Plug in some info about the meteorite you'd like to simulate--size, composition, angle and speed of impact--and then check out the precise kind of havoc it would wreak. We've written about it before, but it somehow seems more pressing now. Maybe because of this little thing. Try Impact Earth here.
Researchers have discovered evidence that there's a lot more water on Mars--at least on parts of Mars--than anyone previously thought. Using new technology, scientists examined the water content in meteorites from the planet, and it points to a lot of it in the Martian mantle.
Since the Viking landers’ footpads touched down on Mars, scientists have been searching for complex carbon molecules there, which on this planet are the building blocks of all life. They’ve found some examples in meteorites purported to come from the Red Planet, but debate persists about the origin of those rocks, let alone the carbon signatures inside them, which some have (controversially) argued could indicate life.
First they were thought to be impossible on Earth, then when they were grown in the lab they were thought to be so novel that they earned their discoverer a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Now, it turns out the quasicrystals--unusually structured crystals that break several rules of crystalline symmetry and exhibit strange physical properties--unearthed in Russia’s Koryak mountains a couple of years ago are probably from outer space.
Earth’s oceans likely started out as space snowballs born far beyond the orbit of Pluto, a new study says. Water-rich comets collided with the young planet after hurtling through the nascent solar system, and probably delivered a significant amount of the water on this planet.
In what appears to be seriously big news from a team of NASA-funded researchers, scientists have found evidence that some building blocks of DNA--including two of the four nucleobases that make up our genetic code--found in meteorites were created in space, lending credence to the idea that life is not homegrown but was seeded here by asteroids, meteorites, or comets sometime in Earth’s early lifetime.
Asteroids and comets come in all shapes and sizes—from small pebbles, to larger SUV-sized fragments, to massive asteroids like Ceres, which has a diameter of about 621 miles. Much of the asteroid material that crosses paths with the Earth burns up when it enters the atmosphere. About once every 100 years, though, a fairly large asteroid strikes the Earth.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.