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.
Wendy Mao edited a new book on the physical and chemical properties of deep carbon, and "we have still only barely scratched the surface in terms of understanding carbon in planetary interiors,” she says.
A flash of green laser followed by pulses of X-rays, and mere nanoseconds later an extraterrestrial form of ice has formed. The miniature crystal reveals how water solidifies under high pressures, like those expected in icy comets, moons and planets.