November 28, 2013 |
Move over Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, there's another observance that's looking to share the spotlight this Thursday: Red Planet Day. That's right, Thursday, Nov. 28, marks the 49th anniversary of the launch of Mariner 4, the first spacecraft ever to complete a successful mission to Mars. Roughly eight months after its launch, the flyby probe gave us our first close-up look at the Red Planet. These days, as the Mars rover Curiosity makes wheel tracks all over Gale crater and zaps rocks with its ChemCam laser, this might not seem like a big deal.
November 20, 2013 |
As NASA's MAVEN mission heads toward Mars , scientists say they've discovered highly unusual, light-colored rock on the mostly dark-toned Red Planet - and two teams have dueling ideas of what such pale rock could be. Could it be granite, the stuff found in fancy kitchen counter tops on Earth? Or could it be anorthosite, the rock that characterizes the bright highlands of the moon? Either way, the two papers published in Nature Geoscience indicate that Mars' inner workings may have been more complicated, and its rock collection more diverse, than planetary scientists once thought.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 19, 2013 |
A former Animal Plant television host pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges connected to selling endangered lizards to an undercover federal agent . Donald Schultz appeared in federal court in Los Angeles Tuesday, pleading guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act by offering to sell, and selling, two live desert monitor lizards in interstate commerce, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. Schultz, a native South African who appears on television as an expert on dangerous wildlife, was the host of Animal Planet's “Wild Recon,” which aired 10 episodes in 2010.
November 15, 2013 |
Four billion years ago, rivers and lakes dotted the surface of Mars, their waters reflecting puffy clouds drifting in a blue sky, scientists believe. Now, it's a dry, rusty rock that's subject to fierce sandstorms, withering blasts of radiation and freezing temperatures that have frozen carbon dioxide to the planet's poles. What happened? That's the question NASA seeks to answer with the scheduled launch Monday of the MAVEN spacecraft. Planetary scientists believe the answer lies high in the Martian atmosphere.
November 13, 2013 |
Recently, a curious case appeared before New Zealand's High Court. The plaintiff, Ioane Teitiota, a resident of the island-nation of Kiribati, was seeking refugee status in New Zealand. His reasoning? Climate change and rising sea levels were making Kiribati uninhabitable. "There's no future for us when we go back to Kiribati," Teitiota argued. I used to live in Kiribati, a remote nation of 33 atolls in the equatorial Pacific scattered over an area nearly two-thirds as large as the continental United States.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 11, 2013 |
Climate change will disrupt not only the natural world but also society, posing risks to the world's economy and the food and water supply and contributing to violent conflict, an international panel of scientists says. The warnings came in a report drafted by the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The 29-page summary, leaked and posted on a blog critical of the panel, has been distributed to governments around the world for review. It could change before it is released in March.
November 5, 2013 |
And she's off! India's space agency successfully launched its 3,000-pound Mars Orbiter Mission probe on Tuesday, and you can watch video of it leaving Earth in a cloud of smoke in the box above. The spacecraft lifted off early Tuesday morning. It will spend the next several weeks in orbit around Earth and on Dec. 1 head out on the arduous 300-day journey to the Red Planet. If the mission is successful, the probe will arrive in Mars orbit about Sept. 24. It will make India the first country in Asia to have a spacecraft in orbit around the Red Planet, joining missions launched by the U.S., Russia and the European Union.
November 4, 2013 |
There's no place like home, but scientists now say that Earth-size planets orbiting sun-like stars in a so-called habitable zone are so common that there could be as many as 11 billion in the Milky Way alone. Using a clever method to detect Earth-size exoplanets they may have missed, astronomers calculated that 1 in 5 stars like the one at the center of the solar system hosts a planet capable of holding liquid water on its surface and - if it had the right chemical ingredients - supporting life.
November 4, 2013 |
Is the Earth a “cosmic freak” or a planetary average Joe around our galactic neighborhood? UC Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy says we're in good company. With some clever sleight of hand, scientists using Kepler data have calculated that a whopping one in five Sun-like stars has an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone - and, if they have the right chemical ingredients on board, could be capable of supporting life. The kicker? The nearest one may lie just 12 light-years away.