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Stanford Earth Matters

Science and insights for people who care about Earth, its resources and its environment

Illustration of eruption on Europa with Jupiter in background

Researchers model source of eruption on Jupiter’s moon Europa

A new model shows how brine on Jupiter’s moon Europa can migrate within the icy shell to form pockets of salty water that erupt to the surface when freezing. The findings, which are important for the upcoming Europa Clipper mission, may explain cryovolcanic eruptions across icy bodies in the solar system.

Mars Perseverance Rover

Perseverance will seek signs of life on Mars

According to Stanford University Mars experts, NASA’s latest Martian rover will drive a wave of exciting discoveries when it lands on the Red Planet – and possibly alter scientists’ understanding of the blue one it launches from.

Crater impact illustration

A steaming cauldron follows the dinosaurs’ demise

The Chicxulub impact crater that is linked to the extinction of the dinosaurs hosted a hydrothermal system that chemically and mineralogically modified more than 100,000 cubic kilometers of Earth’s crust, according to new research.

Lava lake

Hunting down clues to Earth's early molten days

Scientists are still trying to piece together how Earth transformed from a molten planet to one with living creatures walking around on its silicate mantle and crust. Hints lie in the strange ways materials behave under extreme temperatures and pressures.

Lunar colony

'Planetary quarantine' report reviews risks of alien contamination of Earth

The former director of NASA Ames discusses how the advent of new activities and players in the exploration and use of space is raising fresh challenges and concerns about planetary protection.

Illustration of rover on Mars

Promising signs for Perseverance rover in its quest for past Martian life

New research indicates river delta deposits within Mars’ Jezero crater – the destination of NASA’s Perseverance rover on the Red Planet – formed over time scales that promoted habitability and enhanced preservation of evidence.

Hot Jupiter

What other planets can teach us about Earth

Scientists exploring space are bringing back insights about Earth’s deep past, its complicated relationship with life and our planet’s future.

Stars

Fact or fiction? The science of Star Wars

How did those planets form? Could they exist in our universe? Could Star Wars really happen? Stanford Earth experts on planetary formation, processes and habitability discuss the science behind the fictional saga.

Illustration of an exoplanet

Why some planets eat their own skies

A new study suggests a reason why exoplanets rarely grow larger than Neptune: the planet’s magma oceans begin to eat the sky.

Exoplanet

Q&A: Modeling an exoplanet’s atmosphere

New research using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has provided a rare glimpse at the surface of a rocky planet outside our solar system. The planet may be similar to Mercury or Earth’s moon, with little to no atmosphere.

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