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.
Pop quiz. An asteroid the size of Manhattan is hurtling towards Earth, its impact is sure to result in mass extinction and the destruction of humanity as we know it. What do you do?
The traditional answers would be "blow it up". But new research from Los Alamos National Lab and the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows that if the asteroid isn't moving fast enough, or if the nuke isn't big enough, the asteroid will pull itself back together, T-1000-style, within a matter of hours.
For years scientists have debated the cause of the mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs and a slew of other species on Earth 65.5 million years ago. Now, after reviewing 20 years worth of data and research, an international team of scientists concludes that it was a a huge meteorite strike that triggered the extinction.
In the late 1970s, a geophysicist discovered an impact crater in Yucatán, Mexico, and analysis showed the crater's date of origin to be the end of the Cretaceous. Geologic data indicate that the meteorite that produced the Chicxulub crater -- which lies partially buried beneath the Yucatán Peninsula -- was between 10 and 15 kilometers (6 and 10 miles) in diameter and caused an explosion on Earth that was a billion times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Diamond may remain the preferred material for wedding rings, Lil' Wayne's birthday gifts, and Damien Hirst sculptures, but it looks like girls' best friend will have to relinquish its title as the hardest natural substance known. The new title holder: mysterious carbon compounds found in a Finnish meteorite.