China visits moon!

China visits moon!
As scientists find new surprises in Apollo’s 40-year-old rock collection, gravity studies by an over-achieving satellite duo provide a fascinating X-ray vision as big as the moon itself. More »

Understanding the Russian asteroid

Understanding the Russian asteroid
The biggest asteroid to strike land in 105 years sheds light on where space rocks come from, how many more might hit us, and what we should do about them. Ready for a “cylindrical nuclear bomb”? More »

Old and distant galaxy

Old and distant galaxy
A faint smudge — with the dark red insignia of super-old light — distinguishes the oldest galaxy ever seen. The old gal was active in a period when the universe was very different, but still looks a bit like a midget-size modern galaxy. More »

Comet explores sun!

Comet explores sun!

In 2011, a suicidal comet brushed the sun — showing a swirling magnetic field, the source of dangerous “space weather.” What did we learn from the sacrifice of comet Lovejoy? More »

Ancient water = ancient habitat?

Ancient water = ancient habitat?

Geologic dating shows that water has been trapped more than 2 kilometers underground since before the Cambrian explosion. This water contains chemicals that support bacteria in other places. Could the deep biosphere contain relics of the most primitive life? Could such life exist on Mars? More »

Exploring a volcano

Exploring a volcano

Watch volcanologists track a giant volcanic field in Chile — site of the fastest uplift on Earth. Laguna del Maule could change our climate. Scientists are racing to understand a strange unrest. What is the threat from this bizarre landscape? More »

Himalayan glaciers

Himalayan glaciers

A long debate about these giant ice streams has gyrated wildly. Now, satellite data show a moderate loss of mass for a recent six-year period. For inaccessible glaciers, satellites may be the best thing since the ice axe! More »

Super-volcanoes!

Super-volcanoes!

Take a modern volcano, and multiply it by 1,000. That’s a super-volcano. Their rare eruptions change landscapes and weather. How long can giant pools of molten rock sit beneath the surface before a super-v blows? A new study says, not long at all… More »

Reading magma, predicting giant eruptions

Reading magma, predicting giant eruptions

Volcanic eruptions are unpredictable, but here’s a new view of the historic eruption of a Mediterranean monster. About 3,500 years ago, Santorini’s eruption left a giant caldera and 60-meter layers of pumice. A new study of tiny crystals tracks movement of molten magma before the cataclysm. More »

Watching a continental split

detail of labelled, satellite view of Baja California and Sea of Cortez

Seismic study shows crust thinning as continent divides, giving another view of our restless planet, showing tectonic movement in action, and highlighting a major real-estate investment opportunity. More »

Running out of space

Tommy and his spacedog point up to Spaceship One

With space shuttles in museums, the near-term American plan to return to space relies on other countries or private firms. What are the options? More »

Ancient hole, black hole

Ancient hole, black hole

A new report on the ancient universe shows that most galaxies – even all of them – had a black hole at the center, much like modern galaxies. We can understand why a black hole would need to be surrounded by millions of stars, but why should galaxies require black holes? More »

Climate: Simple = beautiful?

Climate: Simple = beautiful?

Earth’s orbit subtly changes over thousands of years, in complex cycles that affect the timing and delivery of sunlight to various regions of the globe. Climatologists have said that when this “Milankovitch cycle” warms the Arctic, it somehow warms the Antarctic. A new study finds that the cycle acts more directly. More »

When earthquakes break…

When earthquakes break...

How do rocks move? What governs how long and violent an earthquake will be? Should we worry about a powder between the grinding rocks? Why do a few earthquakes grow into monsters? More »