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15 January 2020

Nearly barren Icelandic landscapes guide search for extraterrestrial life

New research on microbial lifeforms living in nearly barren volcanic landscapes in Iceland may help scientists understand how best to search for life on other planets. Researchers with NASA’s FELDSPAR project are studying the distribution of life in these harsh Icelandic environments to inform the search for hidden life signs on planets like Mars. So far, they have found that microbes at their study sites are often isolated in “hot spots” and that microbial communities are distributed differently in areas subjected to different geological processes, such as wind or glaciation.


2 January 2020

Research sheds light on the Moon’s dark craters

The next wave of robots to fly to Mars in 2020 could offer scientists an unprecedented understanding of Earth’s closest neighboring planet. But there are still mysteries to be solved much closer to home, on Earth’s own Moon.


10 December 2019

NASA’s treasure map for water ice on Mars

NASA has big plans for returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024, a stepping stone on the path to sending humans to Mars. But where should the first people on the Red Planet land? A new paper published in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters will help by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as one inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.


3 December 2019

New study finds the mix that makes Titan’s lakes spew nitrogen bubbles

In a new study published in AGU’s journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers simulated Titan’s lakes in a pressurized chamber. They found the right combination of methane, ethane and nitrogen crucial for bubbles to form. It is possible these bubble outbreaks are strong enough to shape river deltas in bodies of liquid on the moon.


12 November 2019

With Mars methane mystery unsolved, Curiosity serves scientists a new one: Oxygen

For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists have measured the seasonal changes in the gases that fill the air directly above the surface of Gale Crater on Mars. As a result, they noticed something baffling: oxygen, the gas many Earth creatures use to breathe, behaves in a way that so far scientists cannot explain through any known chemical processes.


16 October 2019

Ancient Moon rock provides evidence of giant lunar impact 4.3 billion years ago

An Apollo 16 lunar rock sample shows evidence of intense meteorite bombardment on the Moon 4.3 billion years ago, according to new research. The results provide new insights for the Moon’s early history, showing lunar impacts were common throughout the Moon’s formation than previously thought.


18 September 2019

New study suggests gigantic masses in Earth’s mantle untouched for more than 4 billion years

Ancient, distinct, continent-sized regions of rocks, isolated since before the collision that created the Moon 4.5 billion years ago, exist hundreds of miles below the Earth’s crust, offering a window into the building blocks of our planet, according to new research.


14 September 2019

Planet walk puts things in perspective

With the sun warming our backs from 93 million miles away, Pete shows me the first of 10 signs spread out along Yukon Drive, on the northwest part of the UAF campus, overlooking the flats of the Tanana River. This signpost represents the sun.


21 August 2019

Study provides new clues to source of methane gas on Mars

A team of researchers led by scientists at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering has created a model of how methane changes on Mars throughout the day by using data from a satellite, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and the Curiosity Rover. In the past, each had measured significantly different amounts of methane on Mars. The new measurements provide more clues that could help to understand what processes are important in creating the methane coming from a large 154 km- wide crater on the planet, Gale crater.


29 April 2019

Un nuevo estudio profundiza en las Nubes de Venus

Investigadores han logrado visualizar lo que sucede en las nubes intermedias de esta gruesa capa en el atmosfero de Venus gracias a imágenes en infrarrojo, y se han topado con sorpresas.


New research takes deeper look at Venus’s clouds

Researchers have used infrared images to spy into the middle layer of Venus’s clouds and they have found some unexpected surprises.


18 April 2019

The Moon’s crust is really cracked

The bombardment of asteroids and meteoroids that pockmarked the Moon’s surface over the eons also created fractures reaching deep into the lunar crust, report researchers in a new study in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.


18 July 2018

Martian atmosphere behaves as one

New research using a decade of data from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission has found clear signs of the complex Martian atmosphere acting as a single, interconnected system, with processes occurring at low and mid levels significantly affecting those seen higher up.


31 May 2018

Which Mars rocks are most likely to harbor signs of life?

Iron-rich rocks near ancient lake sites on Mars could hold vital clues that show life once existed there, research suggests. These rocks – which formed in lake beds – are the best place to seek fossil evidence of life from billions of years ago, according to the researchers.


5 September 2017

Discovery of boron on Mars adds to evidence for habitability

The discovery of boron on Mars gives scientists more clues about whether life could have ever existed on the planet, according to a paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.


18 April 2017

Mercury’s craters offer clues to planet’s contraction

Craters serve as time-markers for the faults because they can be dated by how degraded they appear. The more degraded looking craters are older. Those that have sharper features are younger, and those with bright rays of debris radiating around them are youngest of all.


24 January 2017

Bursts of methane may have warmed early Mars

In a new study, researchers suggest early Mars may have been warmed intermittently by a powerful greenhouse effect. They found interactions between methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen in the early Martian atmosphere may have created warm periods when the planet could support liquid water on the surface.


27 December 2016

Random temperature fluctuations may have made Earth habitable

Random temperature fluctuations in the mantle and on the planet’s surface could be the reason Earth is a habitable world with moving tectonic plates while other terrestrial planets in the solar system are inhospitable worlds, according to new research.


22 June 2016

Research bolsters case for a present-day subsurface ocean on Pluto

An updated thermal model for Pluto suggests that liquid water beneath the dwarf planet’s ice shell may not be frozen yet.


17 June 2016

Scientists shed light on electrostatic dust transport in reshaping airless planetary bodies

New laboratory experiments may bring closure to a long-standing issue of electrostatic dust transport, explaining a variety of unusual phenomena on the surfaces of airless planetary bodies, including observations of the moon from the Apollo era and the recent Rosetta mission to comet 67P.