June 2016

Artistic concept of the early Earth (Image courtesy Simone Marchi (SwRI). All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Earth and Planetary Science Letters” describes a research on the possible link between the primordial bombardment of meteorites on Earth and the emergence of life forms. According to a team of researchers directed by Simone Marchi of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, USA, the meteorites that struck Earth during its first billion years of life created a greenhouse effect sufficient to maintain the water in its liquid state, allowing the emergence of life.

The Mars Rover Curiosity in the area of the Buckskin rock (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS) describes the unexpected discovery of a mineral called tridymite by the Mars Rover Curiosity in Gale Crater on Mars. The analysis of a sample from a rock called Buckskin revealed the presence of tridymite, which on Earth forms as a result of much more intense volcanic activity than that assumed esisted in the past on Mars.

Faults on Pluto's surface (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

An article about to be published in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters” boosts the theory of the existence of an underground ocean of liquid water on Pluto. An analysis of data collected by NASA’s New Horizons space probe during its July 14, 2015 flyby carried out by Noah Hammond, graduate student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA, offers some clues to support this amazing possibility.

Electrons (in red) attract positive ions (in blue) pushing them out of the atmosphere (Image ESA–C. Carreau)

An article published in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters” describes the discovery of an electric wind on Venus that accelerates the ionized hydrogen and oxygen atoms that make up water molecules at such a speed that they disperse in space. A team of scientists led by Glyn Collinson, a scientist of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, analyzed data from the ASPERA-4 instrument of ESA’s Venus Express space probe to find out this wind generated by Venus’ electric field.