Curiosity Might Not Be In An Ancient Lake At All

Photos can’t do some places justice – nor can any level of sophisticated remote sensing.  That seems to be the case for Gale CraterCuriosity has been wandering around the crater for almost the last nine years.  Scientists thought Gale crater was an old lakebed, and it was specifically chosen as a landing site to allow Curiosity to collect samples from such a lakebed.  But new research from scientists at the University of Hong Kong shows that most likely, the samples Curiosity has been analyzing during its sojourn didn’t actually form in a lake.

Continue reading “Curiosity Might Not Be In An Ancient Lake At All”

What a Geologist Sees When They Look at Perseverance’s Landing Site

Geologists love fieldwork. They love getting their specialized hammers and chisels into seams in the rock, exposing unweathered surfaces and teasing out the rock’s secrets. Mars would be the ultimate field trip for many of them, but sadly, that’s not possible.

Instead, we’ve sent the Perseverance rover on the field trip. But if a geologist were along for the ride, what would it look like to them?

Continue reading “What a Geologist Sees When They Look at Perseverance’s Landing Site”

This is Mawrth Vallis on Mars, and it’s Positively Bursting with Evidence of Past Water Action on Mars

Here on Earth, geologists seek out deep channels into Earth’s rock, carved over the ages by flowing water. The exposed rock walls are like a visual timeline of a region’s geological history. On Mars, the surface water is long gone. But it flowed long enough to expose layers of rock just like here on Earth.

One of those water-exposed areas on Mars is Mawrth Vallis, an outflow channel that feeds into the Chryse Basin.

Continue reading “This is Mawrth Vallis on Mars, and it’s Positively Bursting with Evidence of Past Water Action on Mars”

Geologists Have Found the Earth’s Missing Tectonic Plate

Northern Canada has been keeping a secret from the rest of the world. It’s home to “Resurrection,” a tectonic plate that has been much theorized but never found until now. A team of researchers used what amounts to a CAT scan of northern Canada and the mantle underneath it to find the missing plate.

Finding it could lead to better hazard prediction and also to finding mineral and hydrocarbon deposits. But better than that, it’s helping scientists piece together Earth’s history.

Continue reading “Geologists Have Found the Earth’s Missing Tectonic Plate”

There Could Be Carbon-Rich Exoplanets Made Of Diamonds

Scientists are getting better at understanding exoplanets. We now know that they’re plentiful, and that they can even orbit dead white dwarf stars. Researchers are also getting better at understanding how they form, and what they’re made of.

A new study says that some carbon-rich exoplanets could be made of silica, and even diamonds, under the right circumstances.

Continue reading “There Could Be Carbon-Rich Exoplanets Made Of Diamonds”

A Huge Ring-Like Structure on Ganymede Might be the Result of an Enormous Impact

Ganymede’s surface is a bit of a puzzle for planetary scientists. About two-thirds of its surface is covered in lighter terrain, while the remainder is darker. Both types of terrain are ancient, with the lighter portion being slightly younger. The two types of terrain are spread around the moon, and the darker terrain contains concurrent furrows.

For the most part, scientists think that the furrows were caused by tectonic activity, possibly related to tidal heating as the moon went through unstable orbital resonances in the past.

But a new study says that a massive impact might be responsible for all those furrows.

Continue reading “A Huge Ring-Like Structure on Ganymede Might be the Result of an Enormous Impact”

The dinosaur killing asteroid hit the Earth at the most devastating possible angle

There are bad days, and then there are really bad days. 65 million years ago, life on Earth – especially if you were a dinosaur – experienced the worst possible bad day, as a giant meteor came crashing down to the surface of our planet, unleashing an inferno followed by decades of nuclear winter. And the worst part? It didn’t have to be so bad.

Continue reading “The dinosaur killing asteroid hit the Earth at the most devastating possible angle”