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planetary science

planetary science

Asteroid Rate Jumped in Solar System’s Past

An analysis of lunar craters has found that we’ve been living in a relatively violent period in cosmic history.

Q&A

The Woman Who Gets Called When a Piece of Mars Falls From the Sky

Planetary geologist Meenakshi Wadhwa uses Martian meteorites to trace the history of our solar system.

Ewine van Dishoeck at Noordwijk beach in the Netherlands.
Thinking Places

Ewine van Dishoeck, the Netherlander Who Traced Water’s Origin

The astrochemist and winner of the 2018 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics has wondered about the cosmic origin of water while enjoying Noordwijk beach near her hometown of Leiden.

Art for "Interstellar Visitor Found to Be Unlike a Comet or an Asteroid"
astronomy

Interstellar Visitor Found to Be Unlike a Comet or an Asteroid

The mystery of ’Oumuamua, the first interstellar object ever observed, continues to deepen.

Art for "Planets Found to Be Larger Than the Disks They Come From"
astrophysics

Planets Found to Be Larger Than the Disks They Come From

The new finding is challenging established theories of how planets come to be.

Rosaly Lopes above one of the lava lakes at Ambrym, an exceptionally active volcano in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.
Q&A

To Understand Volcanoes on Other Worlds, Stand On Our Own

Rosaly Lopes has visited dozens of active volcanoes on Earth and discovered even more elsewhere in the solar system. Her work is helping to establish whether volcanoes on distant moons could create conditions friendly to life.

geophysics

The Hunt for Earth’s Deep Hidden Oceans

Water-bearing minerals reveal that Earth’s mantle could hold more water than all its oceans. Researchers now ask: Where did it all come from?

Illustration for "Why Can’t We Find Planet Nine?"
Abstractions blog

Why Can’t We Find Planet Nine?

Astronomers suspect that there’s a large planet hiding out in the distant fringes of the solar system. At a recent workshop, they brainstormed ways to coax it into view.

Photo of a diver between two tectonic plates in Silfra. reykjavik. Iceland
geophysics

Why Earth’s Cracked Crust May Be Essential for Life

Life needs more than water alone. Recent discoveries suggest that plate tectonics has played a critical role in nourishing life on Earth. The findings carry major consequences for the search for life elsewhere in the universe.