Venus, the once-beautiful goddess #ClimateChange

Venus our close sister. Almost the same size as Earth, almost the same distance from the Sun. Once a planet just like us, probably with water and a nice habitable temperature. It may even have supported some primitive life before Earth did. Then it all went wrong and now Venus is hellish. Super hot temperatures, massive thick atmosphere, covered in volcanoes, snowing metals and raining sulfuric acid.

New research from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York shows how beautiful it once was. This modelling was carried out by adapting Earth climate models and shows what happens in runaway climate change. “Many of the same tools we use to model climate change on Earth can be adapted to study climates on other planets, both past and present,” said Michael Way, a researcher at GISS. We, on Earth, got lucky. We spin faster and had less dry land, and, being further away, received less sunlight.

Now, with sudden climate change caused by human’s burning fossil fuels, our own atmosphere is following exactly what these same models predict. This study of Venus shows that it time to start looking after ourselves. When it comes to humanity, there is no plan-et B.









Volcanism, but not as we know it #MarsRock

A new rock in Algeria sheds light on the history of our little brother, Mars.

As announced on

“An unusual meteorite found in Algeria in 2012 has given scientists information about volcanic activity on Mars, and it’s not like anything we’ve ever seen on Earth. Analysis of the 6.9-ounce meteorite by an international team of scientists, has helped determine that sometime in its 4.5 billion-year history, Mars had a single volcano that erupted continuously for more than 2 billion years.”

Earth has plate tectonics, which constantly shuffle the Earths surface, like pieces of jigsaw being moved around a table. This regenerates the surface of the Earth every few thousand years of so, and so Earth volcanoes can’t get much older than that. But on Mars there is very little tectonics, and probably none at all. So a volcano can just keep going and going. The mystery of the Mars rock, solved by old volcanism




The search for planets with oxygen #HabitableZone #exoplanets

The search for life around other stars is essentially a search for a habitable zone – the area around a star where the distance is warm enough to sustain liquid water on the surface, but cold enough such that the water does not boil away or escape.

This definition of habitable zone now has to change to take into account the star itself. New research shows that winds coming off Red Giant stars can strip the planet of Oxygen. No Oxygen, no life. This means that our nearest confirmed Earth-sized exoplanet, around Proxima Centauri and only 4 light-years away, is not a good spot to go look for neighbors.

“If we want to find an exoplanet that can develop and sustain life, we must figure out which stars make the best parents,” said Vladimir Airapetian, lead author of the paper and a solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We’re coming closer to understanding what kind of parent stars we need.”










Bluring the lines – an active asteroid #NASASDawn #Ceres


Asteroids are the left overs, the non-planets, the bits that never quite formed that missing planet between Mars and Jupiter. Because of this, they are small, cold, dead. Except when they is an exception to the rule. And Ceres is that exception

On the same day Pluto was demoted to Dwarf Planets, Ceres got promoted *to* Dwarf Planet. It is clearly and asteroid belt object, but it is much bigger than the other asteroids. So big that it was once alive and (barely) active. In 2015 the NASA Dawn spacecraft imaged a volcano on Ceres. The mystery was that it was the only one on the whole body. As Michael Sori of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, lead author of a new paper accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters states,“Imagine if there was just one volcano on all of Earth. That would be puzzling.”

In this new research Dr Sori posits Viscous relaxation as the solution to this conumdrum. More mysteries, more answers, more knowledge gained about our solar system.