Did Earth get its water from… the Sun?

Where did the Earth’s oceans come from? For the past few years, astronomers have theorised that asteroids and comets deposited water on the Earth’s surface during the early days of our planet, but many questions remain. Now, a paper in Nature Astronomy has shown that the Sun itself could have been an additional source, with … Continue reading Did Earth get its water from… the Sun?

Heading for Mars? Not until a lot of work on novel space materials is completed

“This is space. It does not cooperate.” This quote – by stranded astronaut Mark Watney in The Martian – encapsulates the challenge of the new era of space industry and the NASA-led journey back to the Moon and on to Mars, known as Project Artemis. The Martian demonstrated – at least through literature and cinema … Continue reading Heading for Mars? Not until a lot of work on novel space materials is completed

New insights into the Moon’s evolution

The Moon rocks from China’s Chang’e 5 lander have been analysed, adding to the story of the Moon’s thermal and chemical evolution. More than 50 years ago, the Apollo program brought 382 kilograms of lunar material back to Earth, including Moon rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust. These samples gave us a glimpse of … Continue reading New insights into the Moon’s evolution

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Fish camouflage better without friends watching Like chameleons of the sea, gobies change colour to hide from predators like larger fish and birds – and they do so better when they’re alone. A new study published in Royal Society Open Science tested the colour-changing ability of these bottom-dwelling fish alone and in pairs. When by … Continue reading You may have missed…

Planets that can vaporise rock (and other stories)

October is planetary science month. That’s when the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences holds its annual meeting, with hundreds of researchers discussing planetary bodies large and small. Want the latest on the search for Planet 9? Here’s the place to find out. (Hint: nobody’s found it.) Wondering what counts as a planet? Forget … Continue reading Planets that can vaporise rock (and other stories)

Sergei Korolev achieves lift-off

On 20 July 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the Moon, speaking the now ubiquitous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The Moon landing rocketed the United States ahead of the Soviet Union in the “race to space”. NASA says the race … Continue reading Sergei Korolev achieves lift-off

Finding alien lava tubes

In order to learn more about worlds beyond Earth, scientists are currently developing cutting-edge tools to attach to rovers and probes. A team at RMIT University and the start-up CD3D has just received a grant from the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars initiative to develop a miniature radar device, known as MAPrad, that can … Continue reading Finding alien lava tubes

Where is the edge of space?

As billionaires blast off in an effort to secure bragging rights or stroke their egos, an old question has been reignited: where does the atmosphere end and space begin? Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight on 12 July rocketed up to 86 km off the ground, while Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin flight last night reached just … Continue reading Where is the edge of space?

The search for ET is getting (a little) more serious

A new report into possible UFO sightings has prompted important debate among intelligent lifeforms here on Earth. When – and if – Homo sapiens encounter intelligent extra-terrestrial life, the revelation will probably come not with a bang, but with thorough scientific investigation.  A soon-to-be released report into UFO sightings has excited imaginations around the world about the possibility of … Continue reading The search for ET is getting (a little) more serious

What risks do humans face in space?

It was quite the job ad when NASA started looking for astronauts for its Moon to Mars mission. They’re searching for the first woman and next man to walk on the Moon – and maybe send them onto the Red Planet. One of the first requirements for future space travellers is the ability to get … Continue reading What risks do humans face in space?

Mars and Moon geology: past, present and future

One month after it landed on Mars and beamed back its first “I made it” messages, NASA’s Perseverance rover is limbering up its instruments, testing its wheels, and starting to return pictures of its new home in Jezero Crater. “So far all is going exceedingly well,” Ken Farley, the mission’s project scientist, from California Institute … Continue reading Mars and Moon geology: past, present and future