13 Stories

Scientists Want to Build an Inflatable Shield Around Mars

To keep out solar wind and radiation, rebuild planet's atmosphere

(Newser) - Mars isn't particularly habitable to humans at the moment, but NASA's latest brainstorm could one day bring back the planet's beaches—or at least some of its oceans, Engadget reports. At a workshop in DC last week, scientists from the agency's Planetary Science Division presented the... More »

The Sun Is Obliterating Mars' Atmosphere

Solar storms hit with energy of 'one large nuclear weapon per hour'

(Newser) - Scientists might finally have an explanation for how Mars went from an Earth-like, potentially life-sustaining planet to a cold ball of rock barely capable of keeping a single Matt Damon alive . Discovery reports the sun has been "blasting away" the planet's once-thick atmosphere for the past few billion... More »

2013 Saw Fastest Spike in CO2 Levels Since 1984

Greenhouse gases hit record highs: World Meteorological Organization

(Newser) - Greenhouse gases rose to record levels last year, according to a new report by the World Meteorological Organization, making a worldwide climate treaty more critical now than ever. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in particular peaked at 396 parts per million, the BBC reports—3ppm over the previous year, in the... More »

'Paradox' of MIA Atmospheric Gas Solved

Xenon likely packed in the Earth's core: researchers

(Newser) - Levels of the gas xenon in the Earth's atmosphere are way lower—to the tune of 90%—than scientists believe they should be, prompting a mystery one calls "the missing xenon paradox." While some believe the gas escaped into space, many have argued it's in the... More »

Russia Meteor's Dust Cloud Circled Earth—in 4 Days

Plume was detectable 3 months later

(Newser) - Yet another pretty wild revelation about the meteor that rocked Russia last February: It thrust a massive dust cloud into our atmosphere that was detectable even three months later—and that plume managed to travel all the way around the northern hemisphere and back to Chelyabinsk in just four days,... More »

Water Vapor Found on Distant Planet

Astronomers take incredibly close look at far-away gas giant

(Newser) - Scientists say they've spotted water vapor and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere of a huge gas planet some 130 light-years from Earth, NBC News reports. That doesn't mean life exists there—the planet, HR 8799c, is way too hot and gassy—but it does highlight our growing ability... More »

MIT Students Snap Space Pics on the Cheap

'Project Icarus' sends camera to the stratosphere for under $150

(Newser) - A trio of MIT students managed to take photographs from the edge of space for less than $150, the Guardian reports. The students sent a digital camera and a GPS-equipped mobile phone in a coolbox into the stratosphere by attaching the kit to a helium balloon. They retrieved the photos... More »

The Latest Ozone Villain: Laughing Gas

Nitrous oxide nothing to chuckle about, climate scientists say

(Newser) - Nitrous oxide is the new chlorofluorocarbons. A study published today fingers N2O, aka laughing gas, as the most dangerous ozone-depleting gas in the air, Time reports. Nitrous oxide isn’t as dangerous as CFCs, but it’s incredibly common, emitted by everything from fertilizer to sewage treatment plants to cars.... More »

Colossal Chinese Dustball Circles Earth in 13 Days

(Newser) - A dust cloud weighing nearly a million tons kicked into the atmosphere by a massive storm in China's Taklamakan desert circled the world almost intact in 13 days, the Telegraph reports. Scientists, who used NASA satellites to track the path of the dustball until it fell apart over the Pacific... More »

Thawing Arctic Could Set Off Methane Climate Bomb

Billions of tons of strong greenhouse gas lie on ocean floor

(Newser) - Climate scientists meeting this week in Vienna are contemplating a terrible prospect—the release of billions of tons of methane gas from the Arctic Ocean, Der Spiegel reports. Methane, 20 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, lies frozen in gas hydrates on the ocean floor, but rising... More »

Get Ready for a Light Show

Geminids will benefit from a moonless night

(Newser) - This week's incarnation of the annual Geminid meteor shower should be particularly awe-inspiring, reports National Geographic, because it coincides with dark, moonless sky for the first time since 1996. Skywatchers can expect at least 110 meteors per minute, with the best viewing on Thursday and Friday. The peak will be... More »

Comet Dust Will Light Sky

(Newser) - Comet debris will light up the sky tomorrow night and Monday morning with shooting stars as Earth passes through the Perseid meteor shower. For the best view, pick a dark spot away from city lights and look east, says the Discovery Channel. "It's going to be a great show,... More »

Astronaut Takes Out the Trash, Into Space

Discarded equipment expected to burn up in Earth's atmosphere

(Newser) - A NASA astronaut hurled two large pieces of space junk—a 1,400-pound reservoir filled with ammonia and a 212-pound piece of video equipment—off the International Space Station and into the Earth's orbit today. NASA does not approve of space littering, Reuters reports, but the agency had no other... More »

13 Stories