For all intents and purposes, Pluto and Earth don't have a lot in common. One is a planet, one is not (or at least not officially). One is an ice world, while the other is mostly water. One is red, the other blue. But black and white photos can obscure a lot of those differences. In the latest batch of images returned from the New Horizons spacecraft, Pluto looks a lot like home.
Our cold, lifeless Moon just turned the corner into pretty hot and tempting. It turns out Earth’s satellite was once rife with volcanic activity, and some of its eruptions occurred within the past 100 million years – perhaps even within the past 50 million years. That’s about a billion years earlier than what researchers had originally assumed.
Want to turn your smartphone into a cosmic ray detector? Well there's an app for that. Cosmic Rays Found in Smartphones, or CRAYFIS, uses smartphones' and tablets' standard camera equipment to detect some of the super-rare particles that shower down on the Earth when a high-energy cosmic ray hits the atmosphere. CRAYFIS collects that data, then sends them onto physicists at the University of California's Irvine and Davis campuses for analysis.
We all know the dangers of getting too much sun: things like sunburn and heat stroke can really ruin a summer day. But did you realize that activity on the sun's roiling surface can also cause us a lot of grief? "Sunspots," which look like black holes in the sun's surface, are where bundles of magnetic fields cross the surface of the Sun from the solar interior to the solar atmosphere and back. Hot gas from below bubbles up to the surface (also called the photosphere); the sunspots look dark because they are cooler than their surrounding area. Eruptions from sunspots often shoot X-Rays and high-energy particles our way. Even though the sun is 150 million km (93 million miles) away, solar activity can endanger the International Space Station and the astronauts inside, as well as aircraft flying at high-altitude or high-latitude. X-Rays and high-energy particles can mess up GPS signals and our electrical grid.
Buried under miles of ice, astronomers have detected a liquid water sea on one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus. The sea is about the size of Lake Superior and it touches Enceladus' silicate core… which means it could have minerals dissolved in it that are necessary for life. "It makes, in fact, the interior of Enceladus a very attractive potential place to look for life," Jonathan Lunine, a Cornell University astronomer who worked on the study determining Enceladus has an ocean, said during a teleconference for reporters.