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planetary science

planetary science

Iceland’s Eruptions Reveal the Hot History of Mars

April 6, 2021

The new volcanic fissures are more otherworldly than they first appear.

A mosaic of five microscope images of igneous rocks. The rocks are dappled with blue, pink, orange and multicolor inclusions.
geology

Scientists Pin Down When Earth’s Crust Cracked, Then Came to Life

March 25, 2021

New data indicating that Earth’s surface broke up about 3.2 billion years ago helps clarify how plate tectonics drove the evolution of complex life.

Matthew Genge in a yellow shirt and gray jacket seated at a microscope.
Q&A

What Dust From Space Tells Us About Ourselves

February 4, 2021

Micrometeorites constantly fall on every corner of Earth. Matthew Genge is using these shards of interplanetary space to understand Earth and its place in the solar system.

Blue faults of Cerberus Fossae
planetary science

Rumbles on Mars Raise Hopes of Underground Magma Flows

February 1, 2021

Small and cold, Mars has long been considered a dead planet. But a series of recent discoveries has forced scientists to rethink how recently its insides stopped churning — if they ever stopped at all.

Liz MacDonald holding a banner printed with the STEVE aurora.
Q&A

The Scientist Leading the World’s Aurora Hunters

July 9, 2020

Liz MacDonald realized that if she wanted to create the world’s best aurora map, she needed a secret ingredient: Twitter.

Illustration showing an austere number line on one side and various interesting objects on the the other, including a dodecahedron, an armillary sphere, flowers and plants.
Quantized Columns

The Two Forms of Mathematical Beauty

June 16, 2020

Mathematicians typically appreciate either generic or exceptional beauty in their work, but one type is more useful in describing the universe.

Illustration of interstellar objects entering our solar system
Quantized Columns

The Age of Interstellar Visitors

January 29, 2020

As astronomers get better at finding the comets and asteroids of other stars, they’ll learn more about the universe and our place in it.

Spinning globe highlighting LLVSPs.
geophysics

Continents of the Underworld Come Into Focus

January 7, 2020

Giant blobs nestled deep in the Earth may influence everything from the structure of island chains to mass-extinction events.

Saturn’s rings colored by particle size.
planetary science

Are Saturn’s Rings Really as Young as the Dinosaurs?

November 21, 2019

A surprisingly youthful estimate of the age of the rings has stirred a backlash.