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01/10/2006

Kuiper Belt Moons Are Starting to Seem Typical

Robert Tindol

In the not-too-distant past, the planet Pluto was thought to be an odd bird in the outer reaches of the solar system because it has a moon, Charon, that was formed much like Earth's own moon was formed. But Pluto is getting a lot of company these days. Of the four largest objects in the Kuiper belt, three have one or more moons.

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12/08/2005

Caltech researchers invent new technique for studying the thermal history of rocks

Robert Tindol
The beautiful valleys of the southern Coast Mountains of British Columbia exist for us to enjoy today because of glacial action in the past. Geologists know, for example, that a giant glacier carved a deep groove in the mountain range to form the present-day Klinaklini Valley. But how fast the cutting actually took place, and when, has hitherto been conjecture.
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11/29/2005

Powerful New Supercomputer Analyzes Earthquakes

Jill Perry
One of the most powerful computer clusters in the academic world has been created at the California Institute of Technology in order to unlock the mysteries of earthquakes.
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11/10/2005

North Atlantic Corals Could Lead to Better Understanding of the Nature of Climate Change

Robert Tindol
The deep-sea corals of the North Atlantic are now recognized as "archives" of Earth's climatic past. Not only are they sensitive to changes in the mineral content of the water during their 100-year lifetimes, but they can also be dated very accurately.
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10/24/2005

Geologists Uncover New Evidence About the Rise of Oxygen

Robert Tindol
Scientists believe that oxygen first showed up in the atmosphere about 2.7 billion years ago. They think it was put there by a one-celled organism called "cyanobacteria," which had recently become the first living thing on Earth to make oxygen from water and sunlight.
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10/21/2005

Watson Lecture: Marvelous Mars Rovers

Kathy Svitil
Spirit and Opportunity, the unflappable exploration rovers, have each spent over 600 days trekking across the surface of Mars--more than 500 days longer than either was expected to last. "The rovers have done much more than we ever hoped they would," says geologist Joy A. Crisp of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, the lead scientist for the rover project at JPL. "Although they've passed their warranty, Spirit and Opportunity could keep on going for years," Crisp says.
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10/20/2005

Cracks or Cryovolcanoes? Surface Geology Creates Clouds on Titan

Kathy Svitil
Like the little engine that could, geologic activity on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan-maybe outgassing cracks and perhaps icy cryovolcanoes-is belching puffs of methane gas into the atmosphere of the moon, creating clouds.
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09/30/2005

Tenth Planet Has a Moon

Kathy Svitil

The newly discovered 10th planet, 2003 UB313, is looking more and more like one of the solar system's major players. It has the heft of a real planet (latest estimates put it at about 20 percent larger than Pluto), a catchy code name (Xena, after the TV warrior princess), and a Guinness Book-ish record of its own (at about 97 astronomical units-or 9 billion miles from the sun-it is the solar system's farthest detected object). And, astronomers from the California Institute of Technology and their colleagues have now discovered, it has a moon.

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09/08/2005

Work Continues on the Solar System's Three Recently Discovered Objects

Robert Tindol

When planetary scientists announced on July 29 that they had discovered a new planet larger than Pluto, the news overshadowed the two other objects the group had also found. But all three objects are odd additions to the solar system, and as such could revolutionize our understanding of how our part of the celestial neighborhood evolved.

08/01/2005

Evolutionary Accident Probably Caused The Worst Snowball Earth Episode, Study Shows

Robert Tindol

For several years geologists have been gathering evidence indicating that Earth has gone into a deep freeze on several occasions, with ice covering even the equator and with potentially devastating consequences for life. The theory, known as "Snowball Earth," has been lacking a good explanation for what triggered the global glaciations.

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