The ISS Is About to Get a Shipment of Laser CATS

It may not leave a trail of destruction and pew-pews in its wake but NASA's newest atmospheric sensor, the laser-beaming CATS module, could afford researchers a fuller understanding of how our reliance on nonrenewable energy fuels climate change. » 1/06/15 11:40am 1/06/15 11:40am

Maven Delivers Its First Ultraviolet Images From Mars

Piling on to the good news from Mars this week, NASA's Maven spacecraft sent home its first ultraviolet images from Mars. While they may not be flashy, these images will help determine the composition and variability of the upper atmosphere, and investigate the mystery of when the water escaped. » 9/26/14 2:18am 9/26/14 2:18am

Here's a 4K time lapse of a spaceship burning up in the atmosphere

We saw the stunning crystal clear photo, so now here's a 4K time lapse of Orbital's Cygnus cargo ship burning up in a beautiful fiery streak as it re-enters our atmosphere. The footage was shot from the ISS by German astronaut Alexander Gerst. » 8/22/14 9:04pm 8/22/14 9:04pm

What Causes the Smell After It Rains?

There are three primary sources of smells that commonly occur after rain. The first, the "clean" smell, in particular after a heavy thunderstorm, is caused by ozone. Ozone (scientifically known as trioxygen due to the fact that it is comprised of three oxygen atoms) is notably pungent and has a very sharp smell that… » 5/27/14 11:20am 5/27/14 11:20am

4 Ways Tiny Microbes Changed Life on Earth Forever

This is the microbes' world—we just live in it. Throughout the history of Earth, microbes have radically reshaped life on the planet, from creating the very air we breath to wiping out almost all life on Earth. Don't underestimate the power of tiny, tiny microbes populating the Earth trillions of times over. » 4/07/14 12:00pm 4/07/14 12:00pm

What Sunsets Painted Centuries Ago Reveal About Global Air Pollution

Dramatic sunsets are undeniably gorgeous, but they portend something ominous: millions of fine particles polluting the air. Researchers are now studying sunsets painted over the past 500 years to find clues to how our air got dirtier after the Industrial Revolution. » 3/26/14 2:00pm 3/26/14 2:00pm

Your city's air quality got you down? Consider picnicking inside this glass-topped park proposed by Orproject. The transparent, ultra-lightweight canopy—inspired by the geometry of butterfly wings—would act as a kind of fresh air reserve: part filter, part outdoor hospital, where you and your friends can breathe in… » 1/30/14 2:30pm 1/30/14 2:30pm

These Trippy Spirals Are an Island's Atmospheric Exhaust

The Earth's atmosphere is actually a churning sea of fluid, though it's easy to forget when you're just hanging out, breathing it all in. This satellite shot of a tiny island in the Pacific shows the spiral trails it leaves as an ocean of air swirls by. » 8/19/13 4:02pm 8/19/13 4:02pm

Earth's Atmosphere Is Slowly Escaping Into Space

Take a deep breath. You're lucky to be able to. Without a handy blanket of atmosphere gases to swaddle us all, we'd be no more than a twinkle in evolution's eye. But that wonderful blanket of gas is slowly escaping, molecule by molecule, and there's not much we can do about it. » 5/17/13 4:20pm 5/17/13 4:20pm

Scientists See Star Blasting a Planet for the First Time Ever

Imagine you're outside, walking happily on a beautiful sunny day. Suddenly, the light gets intense. You look up, and see a bright flash filling everything. Seconds later, a powerful wind starts pushing the clouds out of view at hypersonic speed. Buildings, trees, and people fly away, disintegrating into a billion… » 6/28/12 1:00pm 6/28/12 1:00pm

Mysterious Electric Blue Clouds Appear Again Over the Poles

Every year around this time, mysterious electric blue clouds appear over the North and South pole. They are called noctilucent clouds and they can only be seen in deep twilight, when the Sun is below the horizon. According to NASA, "their origin is still largely a mystery": » 6/15/12 5:20pm 6/15/12 5:20pm

These Space Orbit Videos Just Keep Getting More and More Amazing Every…

I thought I was tired of these space videos, but this one feels quite different from the many ones I've seen before. It may be the way it's framed and cropped, or the post-processing, or the whimsical Moby soundtrack, or everything combines, but it left me in awe once again. » 6/07/12 1:40pm 6/07/12 1:40pm

Track NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite As It Falls Back To…

Everyone mark your calendar as NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite may crash back to earth at the end of this week. The exact date and time is still TBD, but early estimates suggest Friday will be the big day. » 9/22/11 2:03am 9/22/11 2:03am

Earth's Upper Atmosphere Suffers Record Collapse

Well, this doesn't sound good: NASA just announced that the Earth's thermosphere, an upper layer of the atmosphere, collapsed. It's the biggest contraction in 43 years and scientists have no idea what's going on. I don't feel safe anymore. » 7/16/10 3:40pm 7/16/10 3:40pm

Why the Sky Is So Blue

Chances are, as a kiddywink, you looked up to your Mom or Dad and asked "why is the sky blue?" Just in case you've forgotten, or your parents told you a whopping fib, io9 has come to the rescue. » 6/22/10 7:55am 6/22/10 7:55am

Frenchman Plummeting 25 Miles From The Sky Will Break Sound Barrier,…

Michel Fournier is about to make the greatest leap of his, and anyone else's, life. On Sunday, the 64-year-old retired French army officer will fly almost 25 miles into the sky in a giant balloon, step out of a pressurized capsule and plunge headfirst towards the earth, soaring through the atmosphere for an estimated… » 5/24/08 9:00pm 5/24/08 9:00pm

Hitachi AirSense (The Sequel)


The first time anyone heard about the Hitachi AirSense it was being used as a wristwatch heart monitor for sick folks. Now Hitachi has taken the exact same concept and turned it into a multi-purpose sensor for monitoring the atmosphere. This time around the watch has readouts for temperature, humidity, and barometric… » 12/29/05 12:28pm 12/29/05 12:28pm