Searching in the Darkness, Scientists Shed Light on Oceans Beyond Earth

by Izzy Baker figures by Sean Wilson In the quiet darkness of night, a ship gently rocks back and forth on calm waters. An exhausted first mate peers out over the expansive seascape, seeing the ocean twinkle as it reflects the stars shining down from up above. The vastness of our oceans, she ponders, can only be outmatched by the very cosmos that they reflect; … Continue reading Searching in the Darkness, Scientists Shed Light on Oceans Beyond Earth

Water Beyond Earth: The search for the life-sustaining liquid

by Andrew Greenspon figures by Hannah Zucker Picture yourself as the Curiosity Rover, which landed on Mars in 2012. You’ve just arrived on Mars after an eight-month journey from Earth. You begin traveling across the Gale crater toward Mount Sharp, 18,000 feet higher than the floor of the crater. On the way, you take images with a high-resolution camera. There, you find a slab of … Continue reading Water Beyond Earth: The search for the life-sustaining liquid

Biological Roles of Water: Why is water necessary for life?

by Molly Sargen figures by Daniel Utter Water makes up 60-75% of human body weight. A loss of just 4% of total body water leads to dehydration, and a loss of 15% can be fatal. Likewise, a person could survive a month without food but wouldn’t survive 3 days without water. This crucial dependence on water broadly governs all life forms.  Clearly water is vital … Continue reading Biological Roles of Water: Why is water necessary for life?

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Thirsty Plants: Can plants be genetically modified to need less water?

In order to feed every human being on the planet by 2050, the world will need to produce far more food. One difficulty farmers face is finding enough fresh water. A group of scientists led by Katarzyna Glowacka, from the University of Illinois, Urbana, may have found a potential way to save farmers water. The group’s technique hinges on the stomata of plants. Stomata are … Continue reading Thirsty Plants: Can plants be genetically modified to need less water?

Going with the Flow: New Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars

Surface features such as canyons and valleys on the “Red Planet” suggest an abundance of liquid water in its geological past. Water vapors on Mars were first detected in the early 60s followed by observation of water-rich ice patches decades later, but it was not until 2011 that Lujendra Ojha, a Nepali undergraduate student, spotted signs of possible water flows on our neighboring planet. While … Continue reading Going with the Flow: New Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars

Closing in on the origin of terrestrial water: Philae calls back home

by Tansu Daylan figures by Kaitlyn Choi As Philae just woke up, we examine one exciting question of the Rosetta mission: what is the origin of water on Earth? A hypothesis proposes that comets brought to our planet this molecule central to life. The Rosetta mission is an ambitious scientific program launched by the European Space Agency to analyze the water on the comet 67P … Continue reading Closing in on the origin of terrestrial water: Philae calls back home