On Earth, methane is produced predominantly by biological processes. So when scientists discovered methane in Mars’ atmosphere nine years ago, it raised an exciting possibility for some. Some researchers in Europe now believe they have found the cause of this previously undetermined methane source, and it has to do with radiation.
More than 2 billion years ago, a much fainter sun should have left the Earth as an orbiting ice ball, unfit to develop life as we know it today. Why the Earth avoided the deep freeze is a question that has puzzled scientists, but Purdue University's David Minton believes he might have an answer.
NASA has hired Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, but will eventually add astronauts. And the space agency is hiring other companies, too. Several firms—at least eight—think they can make money in space and are close enough to Musk's company to practically surf in his spaceship's rocket-fueled wake.
Dark matter accounts for at least 80% of the matter in the universe. No one knows what it is, but most scientists would bet on weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. LUX, the Large Underground Xenon detector at the Sanford Underground Research Facility nearly a mile below the Black Hills of South Dakota, holds 350 kg of liquid xenon and is a trap set for dark-matter WIMPs.
New research from North Carolina State University shows that a wind-driven "tumbleweed" Mars rover would be capable of moving across rocky Martian terrain—findings that could also help the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) design the best possible vehicle.
In a new study, researchers describe what they found in data from Cassini: a new class of space particles—submicroscopic nanograins of electrically charged dust. Such particles are believed to exist throughout the universe, and this marks the first time researchers have measured and analyzed them.
The SpaceX company made history as its Falcon 9 rocket, carrying 1,000 pounds of space station provisions in its Dragon capsule, rose from its seaside launch pad and pierced the pre-dawn sky, aiming for a rendezvous in a few days with the space station. If the mission proceeds as planned, Dragon will be the first commercial vessel to visit the space station.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NASA, and elsewhere have detected a possible planet, some 1,500 light years away, that appears to be evaporating under the blistering heat of its parent star. The scientists infer that a long tail of debris is following the planet, and that this tail may tell the story of the planet's disintegration.
By combining the light of three powerful infrared telescopes, an international research team has observed the active accretion phase of a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy tens of millions of light years away, a method that has yielded an unprecedented amount of data for such observations.
A team of astronomers has found that the most active galactic nuclei—enormous black holes that are violently devouring gas and dust at the centers of galaxies—may prevent new stars from forming.
Most people take gravity for granted. But for University of Pennsylvania astrophysicist Bhuvnesh Jain, the nature of gravity is the question of a lifetime. As scientists have been able to see farther and deeper into the universe, the laws of gravity have been revealed to be under the influence of an unexplained force. By analyzing a well-studied class of stars in nearby galaxies, a team of astrophysicists have produced new findings that narrow down the possibilities of what this force could be.
A new essay in the journal PLoS Biology , examines what really constitutes “life” and the probability of discovering new life forms. Gerald Joyce, from The Scripps Research Institute, discusses in the essay the basic requirements for a life form to exist, and how it might fit into the forms alien life could take.
Last year, images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured sand dunes and ripples moving across the surface of Mars—observations that challenged previously held beliefs that there was not a lot of movement on the red planet's surface. Now, technology developed by a team at the California Institute of Technology has allowed scientists to measure these activities for the very first time.
Scientists on a planetary-heat-seeking mission have detected the first infrared light from a super-Earth—in this case, a planet some 40 light-years away. And according to their calculations, 55 Cancri e, a planet just over twice the size of Earth, is throwing off some serious heat.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope recently imaged the Moon’s crater Tycho, though not for the purpose of adding to our knowledge of the lunar surface. Instead, the telescope was being prepped for study the last transit of the sun by Venus to occur this century. Because the Hubble can’t look at the sun directly, the Moon will serve as a giant mirror.
Type Ia supernovae are important stellar phenomena, used to measure the expansion of the universe. But astronomers know embarrassingly little about the stars they come from and how the explosions happen. New research from a team led by Harvard University examined 23 Type Ia supernovae and helped identify the formation process for at least some of them.
Space may be the final frontier. But often a few trips to NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory are necessary before things can get off the ground. One recent case in point is the test of an instrument called the Extreme Ultraviolet Monitor, which will soon be heading for Mars to help answer a vexing question in planetary science: Where did the Red Planet’s once-dense atmosphere go?
A group of scientists took to the skies in a slow-moving airship Thursday in search of meteorites that rained over California's gold country last month. It's the latest hunt for extraterrestrial fragments from the April 22 explosion that was witnessed over a swath of Northern California and Nevada.
Our solar system is four and a half billion years old, but its formation may have occurred over a shorter period of time than we previously thought, says an international team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and universities and laboratories in the U.S. and Japan.
Using the world's largest radio telescope, scientists at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, have discovered flaring radio emissions from an ultra-cool star, not much warmer than the planet Jupiter, shattering the previous record for the lowest stellar temperature at which radio waves were detected.
As the Boeing 747 zoomed over the Manhattan skyline Friday, onlookers gawked at the unusual sight, realizing that the smaller plane hitched to its fuselage was an actual space shuttle. The Enterprise will soon make its home in New York City, basking in retirement about the Intrepid carrier in the Hudson River.
For more than a decade, scientists debated whether a maze of valleys near the Martian equator was sculpted by ice or volcanic processes. Now, aresearcher reports finding lava flows shaped like coils of rope near the equator of Mars, the first time such geologic features have been discovered outside of Earth.
Recent discoveries of planets similar to Earth in size and proximity to the planets' respective suns have sparked scientific and public excitement about the possibility of also finding Earth-like life on those worlds. But Princeton University researchers have found that the expectation that life has of will develop on other planets as on Earth might be based more on optimism than scientific evidence.
Titan’s atmosphere has bee likened to a highly productive "factory", cranking out hydrocarbons that rain down on Titan's icy surface, cloaking it in soot and, with a brutally cold surface. With the help of data collected by the Cassini spacecraft, NASA-funded scientists have attempted to determine how long this complex chemical environment has been operating.
On December 24, 1968, the astronauts aboard Apollo 8 were conducting an extensive photographic survey of the moon’s surface. When they paused to take a navigation sighting, they were shocked to see the Earth “rising” above the lunar surface. Using modern imagery, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has recreated the moment, shortly before the first real photograph was taken.