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Atmosphere

MIT professor of geophysics Daniel Rothman stands next to part of the Xiakou formation in ...

A team of researchers from MIT may have found new evidence to shed light on the cause of the most devastating mass extinction in the history of our planet. The event, estimated to have taken place around 252 million years ago, was responsible for the extinction of roughly 90 percent of all life on Earth.  Read More

The dwarf planet Ceres emitting plumes of water vapor from its surface (Photo: ESA)

In mid-2015, the asteroid probe Dawn is scheduled to establish orbit around Ceres, the only dwarf planet in the inner Solar System, as well as the largest asteroid, to begin roughly six months of close-up observation. The level of interest in this mission has significantly increased with the detection by the ESA's Herschel space observatory of plumes of water vapor being exuded from Ceres' surface from a pair of local sources.  Read More

Artist's concept of the MAVEN spacecraft (Image: NASA/Goddard)

On Monday, NASA confirmed the launch date of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission (MAVEN). According to the space agency, MAVEN will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 1:28 PM EST on November 18 on the first leg of its mission to study the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet.  Read More

Artist's conception of the blue exoplanet HD 189733b, orbiting a star 63 light years dista...

Uncovering any sort of detailed information about an exoplanet presents astronomers with an exceedingly difficult challenge. Despite the hurdles, however, some exoplanets are particularly well situated for such study. Astronomers have previously determined considerable information about the atmosphere and climate of HD 189733b. Now, thanks to Hubble observations made while it passed behind its primary star last December, we also know that this hot Jupiter-like planet is a deep cobalt blue in color, marking the first time that the color of an exoplanet has been measured.  Read More

An aurora appearing in the night sky at the Kjell Henriksen Observatory in Svalbard, Norwa...

Even those of us not lucky enough to have witnessed them in person will likely have marveled at photos of the stunning auroras caused by high energy particles from the Sun colliding with atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere. A team of space-weather researchers has now developed a new camera called NORUSCA II that has produced the first-ever hyperspectral images of the aurora borealis (or northern lights) and may have uncovered a previously unknown atmospheric phenomenon.  Read More

Solar geoengineering could lead to whiter skies, similar to the hazy and white effect ofte...

We’ve already heard reports that placing small, reflective particles into the upper atmosphere could actually improve crop yields, but would also significantly reduce the amount of electricity generated by solar power plants and do little to arrest the acidification of the world’s oceans. Now another potential side effect has been theorized by Californian researchers, who say that solar geoengineering could lead to whiter skies.  Read More

The rockets carry an onboard chemical which, when released, form clouds revealing wind pat...

NASA launched five rockets in five minutes early on Tuesday morning, as part of its ongoing ATREX mission to study the winds of the upper level jet stream. The rockets carry an onboard chemical which, when released, form clouds revealing wind patterns at outer reaches of Earth's atmosphere. And as you can see from the resulting photography, some striking cloud formations occurred.  Read More

Limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees now looks impossible

Last year at the UN climate change talks in Cancun, it was agreed that cutting emissions sufficiently to limit the world’s temperature increase to 2°C would require a far‑reaching transformation of the global energy system. To limit the world’s temperature increase to 2°C, it was agreed that the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would need to be limited to around 450 parts per million of carbon-dioxide (CO2). Sadly, the International Energy Agency has just released figures indicating that energy-related CO2 emissions in 2010 were the highest ever, reaching 30.6 Gigatonnes (Gt). This means that to achieve the 2020 target, where emissions must not be greater than 32 Gt, emissions will need to rise less over the next ten years in total than they did between 2009 and 2010.  Read More

Image of the Venusian atmosphere at 60km over the south pole (yellow dot) using Visible an...

An unexpected measurement has been achieved with the Venus Express, a satellite currently studying the atmosphere of Venus. While the satellite was not fitted with instruments to directly measure atmosphere density, the scientists have discovered by measuring the drag as the Venus Express experiences air resistance that the atmosphere is 60 percent thinner than expected. This "working on the fly" approach could allow the scientists to extend the life of the craft allowing them to collect more data.  Read More

Artist's impression of carbon dioxide capture towers.

May 29, 2007 Since industry is constantly proving it's unwilling to address Global Warming from an emissions standpoint, creative science is looking at attacking atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from the other side - sucking the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere. Researchers have just successfully demonstrated air extraction technology that could be employed to reduce global carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere back to the levels that Climate Change scientists say we need to aim for to prevent global catastrophe.  Read More

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