Atmospheres in the TRAPPIST-1 system should be long gone

Trappist-1 is a fascinating exoplanetary system. Seven worlds orbiting a red dwarf star just 40 light-years away. All of the worlds are similar to Earth in mass and size, and three or four of them are potentially habitable. ...

Is K2-18b covered in oceans of water or oceans of lava?

In the search for potentially life-supporting exoplanets, liquid water is the key indicator. Life on Earth requires liquid water, and scientists strongly believe the same is true elsewhere. But from a great distance, it's ...

Iron snow ebb and flow may cause magnetic fields to come and go

Just as snow crystals form in the upper atmosphere, then fall to lower, warmer elevations and melt, scientists believe a phenomenon called iron snow happens in the molten iron cores of some planetary bodies. Cooling near ...

Aerocapture is a 'free lunch' in space exploration

When spacecraft return to Earth, they don't need to shed all their velocity by firing retro-rockets. Instead, they use the atmosphere as a brake to slow down for a soft landing. Every planet in the solar system except Mercury ...

NASA's Perseverance captures dust-filled Martian whirlwind

The lower portion of a Martian dust devil was captured moving along the western rim of Mars' Jezero Crater by NASA's Perseverance rover on Aug. 30, 2023, the 899th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The video, which was ...

Is it life, or is it volcanoes?

Astronomers are working hard to understand biosignatures and how they indicate life's presence on an exoplanet. But each planet we encounter is a unique puzzle. When it comes to planetary atmospheres, carbon is a big piece ...

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