What's up in

planetary science

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.

astronomy

Stellar Disks Reveal How Planets Get Made

Detailed images of disks swirling around young stars show the details of how solar systems come to be.

Illustration of a hanging mobile with "Planet 9" weighing down 2015 BP519's orbit, thus tilting it.
planetary science

A New World’s Extraordinary Orbit Points to Planet Nine

Astronomers argue that there’s an undiscovered giant planet far beyond the orbit of Neptune. A newly discovered rocky body has added evidence to the circumstantial case for it.

520px for Heavy Late Bombardment
geophysics

Fossil Discoveries Challenge Ideas About Earth’s Start

A series of fossil finds suggests that life on Earth started earlier than anyone thought, calling into question a widely held theory of the solar system’s beginnings.

Thinking Places

Jason Morgan Recalls Discovering Earth’s Tectonic Plates

Jason Morgan developed the theory of plate tectonics in 1967 while working among a critical mass of talented geophysicists at Princeton University.

Jay Pasachoff
Q&A

Eclipse Hunter Reveals the Science That Can Only Be Done in the Dark

Even in the age of sun-observing satellites, astronomers like Jay Pasachoff still seek out total solar eclipses for the tales they can tell about our sun.