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Atmosphere

Space

Red dwarf exoplanets not as habitable as once believed

Fresh research is pouring cold water on the hopes of discovering life on distant exoplanets orbiting red dwarf stars. It had previously been thought that Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones (HZs) of the small stars could provide a possible haven for life, but sophisticated computer models suggest that these planets are likely rendered uninhabitable by their super-dense atmospheres.Read More

Space

Colossal solar storms may have made ancient Earth habitable

According to a new NASA study, powerful solar storms could have been instrumental in warming ancient Earth, and preparing the planet for the development of complex life. Known as "superflares," the space weather events were thought to be roughly 10 times more powerful than any solar storm that has struck Earth since the advent of modern civilization.
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Space

Oldest micrometeorites ever found hold clues to Earth's ancient atmosphere

About 2.4 billion years ago on Earth, something known as the Great Oxygenation Event occurred when Earth's lower atmosphere began to become rich in O2 as oxygen sinks such as dissolved iron and organic material became saturated and couldn't hold any more. Before that, the air near the surface of our planet contained less than 0.001 percent of today's oxygen level. While we've known this for a while, scientists were never quite sure what the Earth's upper atmosphere looked like at the time. Now, by examining fossilized cosmic dust, a team of researchers has sorted it out.Read More

Space

Novel theory explains carbon levels in the modern Martian atmosphere

Scientists believe that Mars once played host to a much warmer and wetter climate, but for that to be the case it must have once had a thicker atmosphere. There's a big problem with that theory, though, with detected levels of carbon not playing nice with atmospheric loss theories. Now, a joint team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) believes it may have solved the problem, with a new theory that explains the issue by means of two simultaneous mechanisms.Read More

Cassini spots massive ice cloud above Titan's south pole

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has revealed the presence of an enormous cloud located around the Saturnian moon Titan's southern polar region. The discovery comes as the spacecraft nears the end of its mission, which has stretch over a decade-long mission, and characterizes the ringed giant and its moons in spectacular fashion.Read More

Space

Solar winds are stealing the Martian atmosphere

What turned Mars from the warm, wet planet that space scientists believe it was in the distant past into the cold, dessicated world of today? NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) is providing part of the answer, as it measures how fast the Martian atmosphere is being lost today. According to the space agency, the culprit is the solar winds, which are slowly stripping away the atmosphere of the Red Planet atom by atom at a rate of roughly 100 gm (3.5 oz) per second and even more during solar storms.Read More

Space

Fresh images display Pluto's atmosphere in a new light

The first color images returned of Pluto by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft reveals blue skies and surface water-ice deposits. Previous non-color images of the dwarf planet's tenuous atmosphere have displayed a surprisingly complex multilayer structure, and the new color images have allowed scientists to deduce the composition of the haze.Read More

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