Radar Reveals Underground Flood Channels on Mars

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Researchers have produced a three-dimensional reconstruction of Marte Vallis, the largest of the outflow channels that were carved into Mars — presumably by an ancient mega-flood — within the past 500 million years. The analysis reveals that the buried flood channels are actually twice as deep as researchers had believed, and that the series of fissures known as Cerberus Fossae likely provided the source of that ancient floodwater.

Read more about this research from the 7 March issue of Science Express here.

[Image courtesy of NASA/MOLA Team/Smithsonian Institution. Click the image for more information.]

© 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Could Regular Moons Come From Ring Systems?

Most astronomers believe that the massive moons of Jupiter, including Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, were born from a large gaseous disk that surrounded the planet during its formation. However, until now, the processes that brought smaller moons, particularly those around Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, into existence has remained a mystery. Aurélien Crida and Sébastien Charnoz now suggest that most moons in the solar system were born from massive ring systems that once surrounded the planets.

Read more about this research from the 30 November issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Frederic Durillon | animea; click the image for more information.]

© 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Valleys on Mars Forged From Fire

High-resolution images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed that the Athabasca Valles on Mars — a network of valleys near the planet’s equator — was born from volcanic activity. The origin of this Martian feature has been debated for more than a decade, with some astronomers claiming that lava once shaped the valleys and others suggesting ice to be the culprit.

Read more about this research from the 27 April issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona; click the image for caption information]

© 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Ancient Impact May Explain the Moon’s Magnetic Quirks

A giant asteroid that struck the Moon long ago, creating the largest impact crater in the solar system, could explain the surprisingly strong magnetic fields that emanate from the lunar crust, researchers say. These magnetic anomalies on the Moon were first discovered by the Apollo missions back in the 1960’s, but scientists have been hard-pressed to explain them since. Now, Mark Wieczorek of Université Paris Diderot and colleagues have performed detailed computer simulations of major lunar impact events, like the one that created the oldest and largest crater in the solar system, known as South Pole-Aitken basin.

Read more about this research from the 9 March issue of Science here.

[Click the image for caption information.]

© 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

A Long-Lived Dynamo in the Moon’s Core

A convecting dynamo of molten metal, akin to the one within Earth, likely churned within the Moon’s core for much longer than previously thought, new research suggests. The Moon’s magnetic field would also have been much stronger during that time, as a result. These findings challenge current theory and imply that researchers will need to find alternative power sources that could have generated such a long-lived dynamo.

Read more about this research from the 27 January issue of Science here.

[Click the image for caption information.]

© 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Kepler Mission Captures Planet With Two Suns

Although planets that orbit two stars instead of just one have been glimpsed before, none have been observed passing in front of, or transiting, their parent stars until now. Laurance Doyle and colleagues used NASA’s Kepler space telescope to capture images of a Saturn-like planet in orbit around two different stars in a binary system. According to the researchers, this newly discovered planet transits both stars in view of the Kepler space telescope and both of those stars also eclipse each other, which allows for very precise measurements of the mass, radius and trajectories of all three bodies.

Read more about this research from the 16 September issue of Science here.

[Click the image for caption information.]

© 2011 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.