LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter
To receive emails with these updates, please sign up for LPI’s Earth and Space Science News for Educators
Planet in Habitable Zone around Nearest Star
Astronomers have found a planet a little more massive than Earth orbiting the closest star to our solar system, Proxima Centauri. It has a temperature suitable for liquid water on its surface, and may be the closes possible planet for life outside of our solar system.
Mystery of Ceres Missing Craters
The Dawn mission studying the dwarf planet Ceres has mapped small craters but shows Ceres is missing the expected large craters for an object its size. Scientists suspect that Ceres' icy layers may contain salts that have smoothed out its features over time, or perhaps icy volcanism may have buried older craters.
New Gullies on Mars Not from Liquid Water
New findings using data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show that gullies on modern Mars are likely not being formed by flowing liquid water. There data show no evidence of the minerals that would form from liquid water present in these cullies; they may be formed from freezing and thawing carbon dioxide frost instead.
Enceladus' Ice Crust Thinner than Expected
A new study indicates that the shell of ice around Enceladus is thinner than previously believed, particularly at its poles. It may be as thin as 1 mile, making it the thinnest known ice shell of the ocean-covered moons. This makes the ocean of water more accessible, for future exploration.
Runaway Stars in our Galaxy
Astronomers have observed "hypervelocity stars" moving so fast through our galaxy that they will eventually escape the Milky Way's gravity. Astronomical research suggests that they may have been accelerated by a close encounter with massive black hole in the center of the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud, throwing them like a slingshot through our own galaxy.
How Mars' Moons Formed
Two new studies indicate that Mars' moons Phobos and Deimos formed during a giant collision between Mars and a protoplanet.