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Earth & Space

Lunar sample returned by China's 2020 lunar mission contains minerals that provide clues to the moon's history

Lunar sample returned by China's 2020 lunar mission contains minerals that provide clues to the moon's history

Earth & Space
Fresh Crater on Oceanus Procellarum. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University Earth’s moon achieved its Swiss cheese appearance from celestial objects crashing into its surface, forming impact craters. But craters weren’t all that was left behind; the intense pressure and temperature of such a collision also impacted the rocks and dust covering the lunar surface, known as regolith, altering its mineral composition and structure. Analyzing the resulting minerals provides modern researchers clues to the moon’s past. China’s Chang’e-5, the first lunar sample return mission since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 in 1976, delivered 1.73 kilograms of regolith from the Oceanus Procellarum, a plane named for its vast size. The sample landed with Chang’e-5...
Climate indices and precipitation anomalies reveal stark implications for the Middle East

Climate indices and precipitation anomalies reveal stark implications for the Middle East

Earth & Space
Monthly Dipole Mode Index (DMI) correlations with total precipitation over the Middle East. Significant correlations are shown in color using a student t-test at the 5% significant level. The correlation is most notable in October. Credit: Scientific Reports (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-024-53677-x A new study led by Dr. Assaf Hochman from the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem sheds light on the complex dynamics of sub-seasonal precipitation anomalies in the Middle East, revealing significant correlations with key climate indices. The research offers valuable insights into the predictability of rainfall patterns crucial for both society and the environment. The work is published in the journal Scientific Reports....
Global deforestation leads to more mercury pollution, finds study

Global deforestation leads to more mercury pollution, finds study

Earth & Space
Graphical abstract. Credit: Environmental Science & Technology (2024). DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.3c07851 About 10% of human-made mercury emissions into the atmosphere each year are the result of global deforestation, according to a new MIT study. The world’s vegetation, from the Amazon rainforest to the savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa, acts as a sink that removes the toxic pollutant from the air. However, if the current rate of deforestation remains unchanged or accelerates, the researchers estimate that net mercury emissions will keep increasing. “We’ve been overlooking a significant source of mercury, especially in tropical regions,” says Ari Feinberg, a former postdoc in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) and lead author of ...
An astronomer's lament: Satellite megaconstellations are ruining space exploration

An astronomer's lament: Satellite megaconstellations are ruining space exploration

Earth & Space
A composite of 29 individual exposures from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Maunakea, taken in August 2022. The horizontal and diagonal white lines are bright satellites that unexpectedly flew through the field of view during observations, covering any objects behind them. Credit: P. Cowan/W. Fraser/S. Lawler/CLASSY Survey Team/CFHT I used to love rocket launches when I was younger. During every launch, I imagined what it would feel like to be an astronaut sitting in the spacecraft, listening to that final countdown and then feeling multiple gees push me up through the atmosphere and away from our blue marble. But as I learned more about the severe limitations of human spaceflight, I turned my attention to the oldest and most accessible ...
Ocean system that moves heat gets closer to collapse, which could cause weather chaos, study says

Ocean system that moves heat gets closer to collapse, which could cause weather chaos, study says

Earth & Space
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain An abrupt shutdown of Atlantic Ocean currents that could put large parts of Europe in a deep freeze is looking a bit more likely and closer than before as a new complex computer simulation finds a “cliff-like” tipping point looming in the future. A long-worried nightmare scenario, triggered by Greenland’s ice sheet melting from global warming, still is at least decades away if not longer, but maybe not the centuries that it once seemed, a new study in Friday’s Science Advances finds. The study, the first to use complex simulations and include multiple factors, uses a key measurement to track the strength of vital overall ocean circulation, which is slowing. A collapse of the current—called the Atlantic Meridi...
Moon rocks with unique dust found

Moon rocks with unique dust found

Earth & Space
The meter-high rocks discovered in the work are located near the Reiner K crater in the “Reiner Gamma” region, which has a magnetic anomaly. Credit: NASA LRO/NAC The moon is almost completely covered in dust. Unlike on Earth, this dust is not smoothed by wind and weather, but is sharp-edged and also electrostatically charged. This dust has been studied since the Apollo era at the end of the 1960s. Now, an international research team led by Dr. Ottaviano Rüsch from the University of Münster has for the first time discovered anomalous meter-sized rocks on the lunar surface that are covered in dust and presumably exhibit unique properties—such as magnetic anomalies. The scientists’ most important finding is that only very few boulders on the moon...
Researchers uncover source rocks of the first real continents

Researchers uncover source rocks of the first real continents

Earth & Space
The building blocks of the first continents are comprised of three types of granitoid rocks—tonalite, trondhjemite and granodiorite (TTG). Credit: Jaana Halla Geoscientists have uncovered a missing link in the enigmatic story of how the continents developed—a revised origin story that doesn’t require the start of plate tectonics or any external factor to explain their formation. Instead, the findings published last week in Nature Communications rely solely on internal geological forces that occurred within oceanic plateaus that formed during the first few hundred million years of Earth’s history. A major hurdle in understanding how the continents formed during the Archean Eon (4 billion to 2.5 billion years ago) has been identifying the buildi...
Water may have flowed intermittently in Martian valleys for hundreds of millions of years

Water may have flowed intermittently in Martian valleys for hundreds of millions of years

Earth & Space
Detail of an unnamed valley network on Mars. Impact craters are marked with blue and red circles. Craters marked in red postdate the valley network, while those marked in blue predate the valley network. Dashed circles have a lower degree of superposition certainty with the valley network. The dashed black line is the mapped valley network. (a) overview of the valley system. The entire basin is outlined in white; the highland areas that have undergone less erosion are outlined in black. (b) detail of the area marked in (a). Credit: MOLA MEGDR, NASA/USGS; THEMIS mosaic, ASU/NASA/USGS; CTX, NASA/MSSS. Using impact craters as a dating tool, Planetary Science Institute Research Scientist Alexander Morgan has determined maximum timescales for the formation of ...
Lopsided galaxies shed light on the speed of dark matter

Lopsided galaxies shed light on the speed of dark matter

Earth & Space
Fig. 1. Dynamical friction. The panels depict sparse areas of the universe with dark color and dense areas with light color. The upper panels show the density around a galaxy if the galaxy’s gravity bends (left) or does not bend (right) the trajectories of dark matter particles. The lower panel shows the difference between them, or how the galaxy affects the distribution of dark matter. The arrows represent the acceleration caused by the overdensity behind the galaxy, from which the friction on the center of the galaxy is deducted. Since the arrows have different directions and strengths in different areas, the tidal forces are able to change the shape of a galaxy. Credit: Rain Kipper In new research published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, researchers ...
Global groundwater depletion is accelerating but is not inevitable, say researchers

Global groundwater depletion is accelerating but is not inevitable, say researchers

Earth & Space
This paper provides the most comprehensive account yet of trends in groundwater levels around the world. Darker colors indicate changes of 10 cm/year or more. Credit: Jasechko et al. Groundwater is rapidly declining across the globe, often at accelerating rates. Writing in the journal Nature, UC Santa Barbara researchers present the largest assessment of groundwater levels around the world, spanning nearly 1,700 aquifers. In addition to raising the alarm over declining water resources, the work offers instructive examples of where things are going well, and how groundwater depletion can be solved. The study is a boon for scientists, policy makers and resource managers working to understand global groundwater dynamics. “This study was driven by...