Newborn exoplanets can have a tough life. They may form an atmosphere, but that atmosphere can be doomed. Their stars can emit intense X-ray and UV radiation, stripping away those atmospheres and laying their surfaces bare.
A team of researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics looked at a family of four newborn sibling planets, and tried to understand how their star strips away their gaseous envelopes.
Continue reading “Newborn Exoplanets can be Completely Stripped of Their Atmosphere by Stars”
It looks like the InSight Lander’s Mole instrument is making some progress. After months of perseverance, the team operating the instrument has succeeded in getting the Mole at least some distance into the ground.
That’s a victory in itself, considering all the setbacks there’ve been. But it’s too soon to celebrate: there’s quite a ways to go before the Mole can deliver any science.
Continue reading “Finally! Mars InSight’s Mole is Now Underground”
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory has spotted a distant black hole shooting out jets of material, at close to the speed of light. No worries, this beast is about 10,000 light years away from us. It’s more of a spectacle than a danger.
But it’s a spectacle laden with scientific insights.
Continue reading “Black Hole Seen Blasting Out Jets at Close to the Speed of Light”
We’ve found thousands and thousands of exoplanets now. And spacecraft like TESS will likely find thousands and thousands more of them. But most exoplanets are gassy giants, molten hell-holes, or frozen wastes. How can we find those needles-in-the-haystack habitable worlds that may be out there? How can we narrow our search?
Well, first of all, we need to find water. Oceans, preferably, since that’s where life began on Earth. And according to a new study, those oceans need to circulate in particular ways to support life.
Continue reading “Ocean Circulation Might Be the Key to Finding Habitable Exoplanets”
One of the most fascinating things about planet Earth is the way that life shapes the Earth and the Earth shapes life. We only have to look back to the Great Oxygenation Event (GOE) of 2.4 billion years ago to see how lifeforms have shaped the Earth. In that event, phytoplanktons called cyanobacteria pumped the atmosphere with oxygen, extinguishing most life on Earth, and paving the way for the development of multicellular life.
Early Earth satisfied the initial conditions for life to appear, and now, lifeforms shape the atmosphere, the landscape, and the oceans in many different ways.
At the base of many of these changes is phytoplankton.
Continue reading “New Data Show How Phytoplankton Pumps Carbon Out of the Atmosphere at an Enormous Scale”
The full ramifications of the recent novel coronavirus pandemic are not yet known, and probably won’t be known or even felt for quite some time. Entire industries have been shifted and shuttered over the course of only a few tumultuous weeks due to Covid-19. Some industries and professions have been able to adapt quickly, some have had to close down or to send their workers home, while others are faltering and collapsing.
Continue reading “How Will Covid-19 affect the Future of Science?”
The CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite) spacecraft just opened the cover on its telescope. The spacecraft was launched on December 18th 2019 and has so far performed flawlessly. In one or two weeks we could get our first images from the instrument.
Continue reading “CHEOPS Just Opened Its Eyes to Start Studying Known Exoplanets, We Should See the First Picture in a Few Weeks”
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) says their underwater robot has just completed the first-ever automated underwater sampling operation. The robot is called Nereid Under Ice (NEI) and it collected the sample in Greece. WHOI is developing Nereid in association with NASA’s Planetary Science and Technology from Analog Research (PSTAR) program.
Continue reading “Underwater Robot Captures its First Sample 500 Meters Below the Surface of the Ocean”
The CHEOPS mission is underway. On December 18th, the exoplanet-studying spacecraft launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana aboard a Soyuz-Fregat rocket. Initial signals from CHEOPS show that the launch was a success.
Continue reading “ESA’s CHEOPS Just Launched. We’re About to Learn a LOT More About Exoplanets”
The ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter is no stranger to the Martian moon Phobos. The spacecraft was launched in June 2003 and has been in orbit around Mars for 16 years. During its long time at Mars, it’s captured detailed images of Phobos, and helped unlocked some of that Moon’s secrets.
In a new sequence of 41 images captured during a recent fly-by, the Mars Express’ High Resolution Stereo Camera imaged Phobos from different angles, capturing images of the moon’s surface features, including the Stickney crater.
Continue reading “Mars Express Takes Photos of Phobos as it Flies Past”