Magnetic storms discovered to originate much closer to Earth than previously thought

Magnetic storms are the primary drivers of extreme space weather around our planet, visible as the northern and southern auroral lights. Despite their importance and potential hazards to space and ground infrastructure, the process that powers storms has not been understood yet because they are far too dynamic and complex to study with single satellites. … Read more

It really was the asteroid

Fossil remains of tiny calcareous algae not only provide information about the end of the dinosaurs, but also show how the oceans recovered after the fatal asteroid impact. Experts agree that a collision with an asteroid caused a mass extinction on our planet, but there were hypotheses that ecosystems were already under pressure from increasing … Read more

Volcanic ash sparks a new discovery

Imagine you’re getting ready to fly to your favorite vacation destination when suddenly a volcano erupts, sending massive amounts of volcanic ash into the atmosphere, and forcing the cancellation of your flight. That’s exactly what happened in April 2010 when Eyjafjallajokull, a volcano in Iceland, erupted and disrupted air travel in Europe for six days. … Read more

Bringing astrophysical processes down to Earth

Magnetic reconnection, a process in which magnetic field lines tear and come back together, releasing large amounts of kinetic energy, occurs throughout the universe. The process gives rise to auroras, solar flares and geomagnetic storms that can disrupt cell phone service and electric grids on Earth. A major challenge in the study of magnetic reconnection, … Read more

Atacama Desert microbes may hold clues to life on Mars

Microbial life on Mars may potentially be transported across the planet on dust particles carried by wind, according to a study conducted in the Atacama Desert in North Chile, a well-known Mars analogue. The findings are published in Scientific Reports. Armando Azua-Bustos and colleagues investigated whether microbial life could move across the Atacama Desert using on … Read more