Asteroid impact: NASA simulation shows we are sitting ducks

Even with six months' notice, we can't stop an incoming asteroid.

Credit: NASA/JPL
  • At an international space conference, attendees took part in an exercise that imagined an asteroid crashing into Earth.
  • With the object first spotted six months before impact, attendees concluded that there was insufficient time for a meaningful response.
  • There are an estimated 25,000 near-Earth objects potentially threatening our planet.
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Icy clouds on ancient Mars may have given rise to lakes and rivers

Scientists have long puzzled over how Mars, a cold and dry planet, was once warm enough to support liquid water.

Sasa Kadrijevic via Adobe Stock
  • In a recent study, researchers created a computer model to explore how varying levels of surface ice would have affected clouds above the Martian surface.
  • The results showed that icy, high-altitude clouds would have formed if Mars was covered in relatively small amounts of ice. These clouds would have helped warm the planet.
  • NASA's Perseverance rover may soon confirm this hypothesis by taking geological samples of the Martian surface.
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New galaxy clusters found hiding in plain sight

The research suggests that roughly 1 percent of galaxy clusters look atypical and can be easily misidentified.

NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
MIT astronomers have discovered new and unusual galactic neighborhoods that previous studies overlooked.
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False positive: Exoplanets could have lots of oxygen but no life

Oxygen is thought to be a biomarker for extraterrestrial life, but there are at least three different ways that a lifeless planet can produce it.

Photo by Jaymantri from Pexels
  • If an exoplanet houses life, it almost certainly will have gaseous oxygen.
  • But a new study modeling the development of rocky planets identifies three scenarios in which oxygen can form abiotically.
  • The notion that oxygenated exoplanets are all candidates to host life should be treated with skepticism.
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Scientists test how to deflect asteroids with nuclear blasts

A study looks at how to use nuclear detonations to prevent asteroids from hitting Earth.

Credit: Adobe Stock
  • Researchers studied strategies that could deflect a large asteroid from hitting Earth.
  • They focused on the effect of detonating a nuclear device near an asteroid.
  • Varying the amount and location of the energy released could affect the deflection.
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