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Scientists spy new evidence of water in the Moon’s interior

26 July 2017 Astronomy Now

A new study of satellite data finds that numerous volcanic deposits distributed across the surface of the Moon contain unusually high amounts of trapped water compared with surrounding terrains. The finding of water in these ancient deposits, which are believed to consist of glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma coming from the deep lunar interior, bolsters the idea that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich.

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Lunar impact: how the Moon’s Mare Orientale was formed

29 October 2016 Astronomy Now

The Moon’s Orientale basin is an archetype of “multi-ring” basins found throughout the solar system. New research has enabled scientists to reconstruct Orientale’s formation using data from NASA’s GRAIL mission. It is now thought that the 580-mile-wide feature was created 3.8 billion years ago by an impacting object some 40 miles across travelling at about 9 miles per second.

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What happened after the lights came on in the universe?

15 September 2016 Astronomy Now

The National Science Foundation has approved funding to expand the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array (HERA) in South Africa. Upgrading the number of antennas from 19 to 240 by the year 2018 will enable HERA to study more clearly the impact of cosmic dawn, the moment a few hundred million years after the Big Bang when the first stars and galaxies blazed awake.

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Most volcanic activity on Mercury stopped about 3.5 billion years ago

7 August 2016 Astronomy Now

New research from North Carolina State University finds that major volcanic activity on the innermost planet most likely ended about 3.5 billion years ago — in stark contrast to the volcanic ages found for Venus, Mars and Earth. These findings add insight into the geological evolution of Mercury and what happens when rocky planets cool and contract.

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Pluto could still have a liquid sub-surface ocean

22 June 2016 Astronomy Now

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft spied extensional faults on Pluto, a sign that the dwarf planet has undergone a global expansion possibly due to the slow freezing of a sub-surface ocean. A new analysis by Brown University scientists bolsters that idea, and suggests that ocean is likely still there today.

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Europa’s flexing icy crust might make more heat than scientists thought

15 April 2016 Astronomy Now

As it orbits Jupiter, the icy surface of Europa heaves and falls with the changing pull of its parent planet’s gravity, creating enough heat to likely support a global ocean beneath the Jovian moon’s solid shell. Experiments by geoscientists suggest that this process, called tidal dissipation, could create far more heat in Europa’s ice than scientists had previously assumed.

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Martian valleys could have been carved by surprisingly little water

5 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Vast valley networks on Mars have suggested that water may have flowed there for millions of years. Now a study at Brown University suggests the valleys could have been carved by much less water in as little as a few hundred to 10,000 years. The findings are consistent with the idea that early Mars may have been cold and icy, with surface water flowing sporadically in response to short-term climate changes.

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Mysterious mound near Moon’s south pole formed by unique volcanic process

16 October 2015 Astronomy Now

A giant mound near the Moon’s south pole appears to be a volcanic structure unlike any other found on the lunar surface, according to new research by Brown University geologists. The formation, known as Mafic Mound, stands about 800 metres tall and 75 kilometres (47 miles) across, smack in the middle of a giant impact crater known as the South Pole-Aitken Basin.