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New Moon research yields tantalizing clues about its geological history

The Moon has a long, chaotic geological history almost as old as Earth itself. Every crater, rock and speck of dust on the Moon tells a story, but because it’s not exactly close to our planet, this history is a little harder to study than say, the Grand Canyon.

Astronomers theorize that Moon craters were formed from celestial objects like asteroids and comets crashing into its surface....

Originally posted on salon.com

Like a saggy balloon, Earth’s core is leaking helium, a new analysis finds

When people hear of a helium leak, they likely imagine a comical scenario involving party balloons and high-pitched voices. Yet scientists from the California Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution suspect that, like a human who has yet to fully burp out a gassy meal, Earth has pockets of helium from when it was formed that it has yet to fully release....

Originally posted on salon.com

There’s a river in Pennsylvania whose endpoint is unknown — and it’s not the only “lost” river

On maps, rivers are typically depicted as blue lines — with a starting point, usually near a mountain where rainwater collects; and an endpoint, usually in a lake or ocean. With the advent of satellite imagery, tracing the path of a river is typically a simple exercise; no more hacking through brush and scaling mountains to map geography....

Originally posted on salon.com

Until this week, Earth was the only planet known to have active volcanoes

Venus is sometimes called Earth’s twin, as it is roughly the same size as Earth, occupies the orbital lane adjacent to ours, and has a problem with greenhouse gases (namely carbon dioxide) in its atmosphere. Yet the similarities between the two worlds end quickly: The greenhouse effect spiraled out of control on Venus, meaning it is a toasty 900 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface — hot enough to melt lead....

Originally posted on salon.com

Earth’s inner core is slowing down — and the length of a day may change as a result

It may seem fantastical to say there is a planet within Earth, but conceptually it is true. Ever since the 1990s, geophysicists have known that Earth’s inner core— a ball of iron with a radius of 746 miles (more than two-thirds the size of the moon) — spins in the center of our planet at a different pace than the rest of the globe....

Originally posted on salon.com