by Yaray Ku figures by Aparna Nathan Our understanding of Earth’s Moon formation relies heavily on rock samples obtained during the Apollo missions as long as 50 years ago. As tempting as it is to believe, these samples unequivocally prove that the Moon is not, in fact, made of cheese. The prevailing theory on Moon formation, called “The Giant Impact” hypothesis, proposes that the Moon … Continue reading Going Back to the Moon to Uncover its Origins
If you travel into deep space and look back at Earth through a sophisticated telescope, you could measure what’s called the vegetation red edge (VRE). The vegetation red edge is a mixture of red and infrared light that is reflected by plants on Earth’s surface. Because of clouds, ice masses, and large oceans, the vegetation red edge on Earth is actually fairly small and difficult … Continue reading Signs of Life: Searching for Plants on Other Planets
by Katherine J. Wu In space, no one would hear you scream. But make a quick detour down to the surface of Venus, and all bets are off. Because even if you scream on another planet with no one else around to hear it, you’ll certainly make a sound – just not quite the one you’d make on Earth. And with that cliffhanger, let’s tap … Continue reading You Asked: If you were able to talk on another planet, how would you sound?
The recent discovery of Earth-like planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system has been a major headline for the past few weeks. A team led by Michael Gillon found three planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system in 2016, and recently reported at least 4 more which may contain the appropriate elements for life. One of the strongest indicators that a planet could harbor life is if a planet’s … Continue reading TRAPPIST-1 and Earth’s distant cousins
Recently, the Kepler mission announced the discovery of 1,284 new planets. The announcement represents the most planets ever discovered at a single time, and more than doubles the total number of planets discovered by the Kepler telescope. Launched into space by NASA in 2009, Kepler’s goal is to determine how many Earth-sized planets reside in or near habitable zones, and estimate how many of such planets might exist … Continue reading NASA’s Kepler Discovers over 1000 New Planets
It sounds like it belongs in a sci-fi B movie from the 1950s, but a growing body of evidence suggests that “Planet Nine” is the ninth planet in our solar system…if it actually exists. Astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Michael Brown recently observed that the orbits of several small, rocky objects beyond Neptune were arranged in an unexpected manner. In fact, their alignment is so strange … Continue reading Pluto Who? Astronomers Find Evidence for “New” Ninth Planet