You wouldn’t survive a stint on the hellish early Earth that existed between 2.5 billion and 4 billion years ago. There was almost no breathable free oxygen, for one thing. But scientists may have located an ancient oxygen oasis that existed prior to whatever event first oxygenated our atmosphere.
Experts have been warning of a looming shortage of helium for years, as the known reserves are being depleted. Now British researchers have discovered a large reserve of helium gas in Tanzania, using a new exploration method that offers hope for the future.
The most popular artificial material on Earth isn’t steel, plastic, or aluminum — it’s concrete. Thousands of years ago, we used it to build civilizations, but then our knowledge of how to make it was lost. Here’s how we discovered concrete, forgot it, and then finally cracked the mystery of what makes it so strong.
The ancient Earth was a pretty miserable place. But from this eruptive, radiation-blasted, asteroid-pummeled wasteland, life did arise. Now, scientists have uncovered a tantalizing clue that Earth’s first hardy colonizers appeared much earlier than we thought.
If you hopped in the Tardis and traveled back four billion years, you’d find yourself on a hot, miserable wasteland of a planet with nary an oxygen molecule to breathe. Earth used to be an asphyxiating hellscape, but over the eons, tiny green microbes filled the air with oxygen. New research finds they’ve been at it…
Curious about how life got started on Earth 3.8 billion years ago? Here’s a thought: Why not recreate ancient hydrothermal vents in the lab, and see if they produce enough juice to power a lightbulb? That, at least, is what a bunch of scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab decided to do—and the electrifying results are…
We give up: Pluto is out to surprise us. This time it’s the ice. We thought it’d be easy once we confirmed ice caps of methane and nitrogen, but the story is much more complicated. The entire world has methane ice, but it’s concentrated at the equator and relatively thin at the pole.
A major mystery surrounding the Moon's origin and early composition may have finally been solved by a team of Israeli astrophysicists.
This is a close-up of the very newest land in Hawaii, fresh lava dripping into the sea to build out a new layer of basalt on this island volcano. The ropey texture of the flow is a consequence of its chemistry, the same geochemistry behind the slow, oozing eruptions characteristic of the tropical paradise.
The more we learn about Mars, the more we learn it's a deceptively active planet. Most recently, the Curiosity rover sniffed out a sharp spike in methane levels that dropped back down just as quickly, suggesting some yet-to-be-determined process is currently happening to trigger the aberration.
Around 3.26 billion years ago — long before the dinosaurs — a massive asteroid measuring nearly 36 miles (58 km) across smashed into the Earth. Geologists have now reconstructed this cataclysmic event, and it was far, far bigger than we thought. Here's how things went down on that fateful day.
Planetary science news! Not only does Earth have a nice, wet surface, but a new mineral sample gives us a peek at a wet interior, too. Water, water, everywhere...
Australian researchers have found trace amounts of gold in the leaves of Eucalyptus trees. Now, we’re not talking about a lot of gold — but these amounts are strong indication of larger deposits lying beneath.
Fifty years ago today, a coal seam caught fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania, causing the mines beneath the town to catch fire. While the decades-old fire has caused most residents to abandon the town, a few holdouts remain.
Hydrothermal vents are epicenters to some of the most extreme geochemical processes on the planet. The hot spots of geological activity make their home on the ocean floor, where jets of scalding hot, mineral-rich water spew forth into the depths of the near-freezing ocean.
Don't worry—if we do find evidence of Martians, it will still be on Mars, we'll probably just have to dig a little deeper to find it. A new NASA study has concluded that if life ever thrived on the Red Planet, it probably did so underground, just below the planet's surface.
The Earth was a very different place 3.5 billion years ago. In the absence of oxygen, many scientists believe Earth's earliest ecosystems survived on sulphur, but researchers have long been unable to find any proof of this hypothesis, in the form of fossilized microbial life.
The common mangrove, a tree that grows along most of the world's coastlines, could help us battle climate change. These trees usually live in tidal zones, and their tenticular networks of roots are revealed at low tide.
Using new infrared light techniques, scientists have at last been able to analyze the chemical composition of a piece of lizard skin, preserved for millions of years in dry rock. So what did these reptiles look like in pre-human times?