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Category Archives: Terrestrials
It’s pretty perplexing as to why Saturn’s moon, Titan, has such a thick atmosphere but a planet like Mars does not. Since the most widely accepted explanation of why Mars has such a thin atmosphere is it losing its magnetosphere as its core cooled and does not contain nearly as much metallic iron has theContinue reading “Why Does Titan Have an Atmosphere?” Continue reading → Continue reading
A photograph taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in 2011 has recently been released, showing what appears to be a sizable underground cavern on the slopes of Pavonis Mons, a Martian mountain standing 46,000 feet tall, higher than Mount Everest. The possibility of underground caves on Mars is exciting for (at least) two reasons:Continue reading “A new possibility of life on Mars?” Continue reading → Continue reading
Venus is often described as Earth’s sister planet. Both planets have similar size and densities, indicating somewhat similar core compositions. The primary difference between the two is orbital distance from the sun. Venus, like Earth, is covered with geological features including volcanoes and mountains. We know how mountains formed on Earth – tectonic plates. MountainsContinue reading “How did mountains form on Venus?” Continue reading → Continue reading
The difference in surface conditions of the first four terrestrial planets can be explained almost solely by their atmospheres rather than their proximity to the Sun. Mercury has very little atmosphere to where it does not really play a factor in this, but the stark differences between Venus, Earth and Mars can be explained throughContinue reading “Atmospheres of the Terrestrial Worlds” Continue reading → Continue reading
I was inspired by Victoria’s post to think more about the Fermi Paradox, and specifically, explanations of the uniqueness of intelligent life on Earth. The Rare Earth Hypothesis is one such explanation; it postulates that conditions favorable to life (and particularly intelligent life) are incredibly rare in the universe. It is in opposition to hypotheses […] Continue reading → Continue reading
Discovered in 1970, Archaea might be the least well-known of the three domains of life (the others being Bacteria and Eukaryota), but it is a fascinating and diverse group of organisms and quite possibly the first on Earth. Like bacteria, archaea are unicellular, prokaryotic organisms, meaning that they lack nuclei and other membrane-bound organelles in […] Continue reading → Continue reading
Because the caves, mines, and crevasses on Earth are filled with extremophiles, NASA uses those lifeforms as a guide to its exploration of the universe. The hidden parts of the planet have to make their own way of survival. Surface life has photosynthesis, but subsurface only a tiny fraction of that energy trickles down so … Continue reading A Whole New World! → Continue reading → Continue reading
In his hit song “Rocket Man”, musical legend Elton John aptly remarks that “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids / In fact it’s cold as hell.” The average surface temperature of Mars is 220 Kelvin, or about -64 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, I’m not sure about hell, but that’s definitely too cold … Continue reading Mars: Investigating the Red Planet → Continue reading → Continue reading
Though we do not currently have the means to see directly inside the Earth (or any other planet), we can use clues to make inferences about what may be lying beneath their surfaces. On Earth and the Moon, our most helpful data stems from the analysis of seismic waves, or vibrations that travel along the … Continue reading A Look Inside the Terrestrial Worlds → Continue reading → Continue reading