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5 August 2019
Hundreds of volcanoes pockmark the surface of Io, the third largest of Jupiter’s 78 known moons, and the only body in our solar system other than Earth where widespread volcanism can be observed. A new study finds Io’s most powerful, persistent volcano, Loki Patera, brightens on a similar timescale to slight perturbations in Io’s orbit caused by Jupiter’s other moons, which repeat on an approximately 500-Earth-day cycle.
23 April 2019
A new study finds a type of high-altitude aurora are responsible, at least in part, for moving pockets of air high into the atmosphere where they can cause drag on passing satellites.
11 April 2019
Saturn’s hazy moon Titan has a long-lived Earth-like winter polar vortex supercharged by the moon’s peculiar chemistry. A new study finds Titan’s northern hemisphere polar vortex sticks around past the moon’s summer solstice, into what would be late June on Earth, lasting three-quarters of a Titan year, or about 22 Earth years.
1 March 2019
Mars Express has revealed the first geological evidence of a system of ancient interconnected lakes that once lay deep beneath the Red Planet’s surface, five of which may contain minerals crucial to life.
27 December 2018
Saturn’s rings act like Venetian blinds that block sunlight for the hemisphere that’s tilted farther away from the Sun, limiting winter sunlight. This cuts down on the planet’s haze and golden glow.
12 November 2018
A strong solar storm in 1972 caused widespread disturbances to satellites and spacecraft, and may have led to the detonation of mines during the Vietnam War, according to new research showing the event may have been a more devastating solar storm than previously thought. In a new study, researchers pieced together data and historical records related to the solar activity of 1972 to better understand the nature of the solar storm. In the process, they uncovered an incident where sea mines off the coast of Vietnam were detonated by the solar event.
24 October 2018
Strange features on Saturn’s moon Dione resembling lines of latitude on a map could be the result of space dust crashing onto Dione’s surface, according to a new study. The streaks have puzzled scientists because of their orientation and straightness, but a new study finds these features, deemed linear virgae, likely originated from low-velocity impacts of space debris from within the Saturn system or beyond.
18 October 2018
High school students listening to audio tracks of NOAA satellite data have identified the sounds of solar storms buffeting Earth’s magnetic field. The results of a UK-led citizen science project suggest that the approach of converting physical data into sound signals could help NOAA and other scientists make sense of massive amounts of data from satellites and other instruments.
17 August 2018
New technology that detects radiation from the Sun in real time and immediately predicts subsequent health risks could protect astronauts on future deep-space missions, according to a new study. Astronauts face dangers during solar energetic particle, or SEP, events, which occur when an eruption in the Sun’s atmosphere hurls high-energy protons out into space. These protons can penetrate the walls of a spacecraft and enter the human body. This radiation can cause immediate effects such as nausea, performance degradation and other acute radiation syndromes, while long-term effects can include cancer, degenerative tissue damage, heart disease and damage to the central nervous system.
29 May 2018
Encircling Earth are two enormous rings — called the Van Allen radiation belts — of highly energized ions and electrons. Various processes can accelerate these particles to relativistic speeds, which endanger spacecraft unlucky enough to enter these giant bands of damaging radiation. Scientists had previously identified certain factors that might cause particles in the belts to become highly energized, but they had not known which cause dominates. Now, with new research from NASA’s Van Allen Probes and Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms — THEMIS — missions, published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, the verdict is in.