As most of America’s East Coast counts down toward midnight tonight, ushering in a shiny new year, a group of NASA scientists and their attendant press will instead be counting down to a more spectacular event: the most distant flyby of a planetary object in history.
After zipping past Pluto in 2015, snapping breathtaking photos and revolutionizing our understanding of the dwarf planet, the New Horizons probe has drifted farther and deeper into the solar system. Tonight, some billion mile ...read more
Novelists have "It was a dark and stormy night." For planetary scientists, the equivalent cliche is, "We expect to be surprised." The story of every new space mission seems to begin that way. No matter how intensely researchers study some solar-system object, no matter how they muster the best resources available on Earth, they are inevitably caught off-guard when they get to study it up close for the first time. And no matter how worn and familiar that cliche may sound, it also rings true e ...read more
It's that time, once again, to give out the Pliny. Since 2009, my readers have voted on what they think was the most significant volcanic event of the year. Sometimes the vote is very close and sometimes, well, you can guess what the outcome will be before the envelope is opened. Let's start off with some honorable mentions that garnered votes from some of you:
Sierra Negra: Back in June of 2018, Sierra Negra in the Galápagos erupted for the first time since 2005. Lava flows poured down ...read more
A New Year With New Horizons
This New Year's, you can go to a boring old bar like everyone else, or you can celebrate the dawning of another year by watching NASA's New Horizons spacecraft make history.
At 12:33 a.m. EST on January 1, the craft will fly within 2,200 miles (3,540 km) of 2014 MU69, more commonly known as Ultima Thule, an object far out beyond Pluto in the Kuiper Belt. NASA will be broadcasting the event on NASA TV and providing updates through their social media ch ...read more
This past year brought all too many disasters, including rampaging wildfires, destructive volcanic eruptions, swirling tropical cyclones, and a host of other events that brought misery to millions of people worldwide.
Many were visualized by satellites looking down on Earth, and as 2018 draws to a close, I thought I'd feature one that I found to be particularly compelling. It's the image above showing California's Camp Fire, created by blogger and remote sensing expert Pierre Markuse. ...read more
Happy New Year! We resolve to make it easier than ever for you to discover and engage in research that needs you. Here are simple ways to integrate citizen science into your own resolutions.
The SciStarter Team
Resolution 1: Bake
From the creators of the global Sourdough Project, wherein 500 people sent in sourdough starters from all over the world, we have New Year, New Bread.Share your sourdough successes with others and help scientists learn how breads baked from ...read more
Mars is certainly cold. With temperatures that can plunge to more than negative 100 degrees Celsius, it's bloody frigid!
But as cold as it might get, does it snow on Mars?
This wasn't the first thing that came to mind when I photographed the scene above near Boulder, Colorado with my iPhone. But when I got home and started investigating the beautiful phenomenon I had documented, I eventually came around to that rather un-obvious question. How I came to it — ...read more
2018 was quite a year across the geosciences ... which is hardly shocking considering we live on the most geologically active planet in the solar system. Some of the events were tragic, because when it comes to headlines, that is what gets the most attention. Others were warnings of things that could be headed our way and others were, thankfully, downright exciting and uplifting. Here's my quick takes on some of the big geoscience events from the year that was:
Lower East Rift Zone Erupti ...read more
Mary Ellen Hannibal, Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction, New York, NY: The Experiment, 2016. 432 pp. $29.95 hardcover, $17.95 paperback.
Mary Ellen Hannibal’s Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction is a beautiful collection that explores a wide range of stories. From the intimate moments of an individual’s life to the larger narratives of communities, Citizen Scientist tells stories th ...read more
Jupiter is king of the planets. It's huge, it's bright in our night skies, and even four of its comparatively tiny moons are bright enough to see with the most basic of telescopes. We've sent nine probes either into orbit or on a close flyby of the planet. And yet, as recently as this past year, we discovered not one, but twelve new moons around Jupiter, bringing the total to 79. How haven't we exhausted this particular moon mine yet?
The Easy Targets First
The answer is that most of Jupit ...read more
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