LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter
Evidence of Plate Tectonics on Europa
Evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa is the first sign of this type of surface-shifting geological activity on a world other than Earth. Researchers have observed visual evidence for expansion of Europa's icy crust, and now have evidence for subduction as well.
Tiny Galaxy Has Huge Black Hole
Supermassive black holes have been found at the centers of most large galaxies and often are related to the mass of the galaxy. In a new discovery that challenges current models of supermassive black hole formation, astronomers have found one inside a tiny galaxy.
Earth's Water Older than the Solar System
New research suggests that much of the water on Earth and in the early Solar System was inherited as ice from interstellar space, increasing the likelihood that similar ices and organic matter are abundant in the materials forming other stars and planets.
MAVEN Reaches Mars
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is now in orbit around Mars. MAVEN is studying Mars' upper atmosphere in order to better understand its history and how Mars' climate has changed over time.
Arctic Sea Ice Continues to Decline
Arctic sea ice coverage continued its below-average trend this year as the ice declined to its annual minimum on Sept. 17. 2014 Arctic seas ice coverage is the sixth lowest recorded since 1978.
Earth Observing Instruments on the ISS
NASA is taking the International Space Station's Earth-observing capabilities to a whole new level. Before the end of the decade, six NASA Earth science instruments will be mounted to the station to help scientists study our changing planet. Instruments will moniter ocean winds, clouds, airborne particles. Gases in the atmosphere, lightning, and more to better understand weather, pollution, thunderstorms, the ozone layer, and climate change.
Milky Way Part of Newly Identified Supercluster
Astronomers have determined that our Milky Way galaxy is part of a massive supercluster of galaxies. The Milky Way is in the outskirts of this Laniakea Supercluster, which is 500 million light years wide and contains 100,000 galaxies.
Comet's Path Narrowly Misses Mars
On Oct. 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) will pass extremely close to Mars. Siding Spring will glide by Mars only 132,000 km away--about 1/3rd of the distance between Earth and the Moon. Although the comet's nucleus will not strike the planet, gas and dust spewing out of the comet's core will likely interact with the Martian atmosphere. There could be a meteor shower, auroras, and other effects that no one can predict. NASA's fleet of Mars spacecraft and rovers will record whatever happens.