The surface of Venus is completely inhospitable for life: barren, dry, crushed under an atmosphere about 90 times the pressure of Earth’s and roasted by temperatures two times hotter than an oven. But was it always that way? Could Venus once have been a twin of Earth — a habitable world with liquid water oceans? This is one of the many mysteries associated with our shrouded sister world. 27 years have passed since NASA’s Magellan mission last orbited Venus. That was NASA’s most recent mission to Earth’s sister planet, and while we have gained significant knowledge of Venus since then, there are still numerous mysteries about the planet that remain unsolved. NASA’s DAVINCI (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) mission hopes to change that. Video credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
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NASA is planning two missions to Venus to assess if the now-toxic planet once had an ocean, continents and life. Scientists are beginning the effort on Earth by training sensors and machine learning systems to analyze the building blocks of our own planet. Photo illustration: Laura Kammermann
NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars more than two weeks ago. Jennifer Trosper from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains how the rover will explore the Martian landscape and search for signs of life. Photo: NASA
As NASA’s rover Perseverance explores the surface of Mars, scientists hunting for signs of ancient life on the distant planet are using data gathered at a lake in southwest Turkey.
Lake Salda is a mid-size crater lake in southwestern Turkey, within the boundaries of Yeşilova district of Burdur Province. It lies at a distance of about fifty kilometers to the west from the province seat Burdur.
How it looks to land on Mars, previewing space station spacewalks, and supplies and cargo delivered for the station crew … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!
NASA’s science rover Perseverance, the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another world, streaked through the Martian atmosphere and landed safely on the floor of a vast crater.
Science Staff Writer Jon Cohen joins host Sarah Crespi to take on some of big questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, such as: Do they stop transmission? Will we need boosters? When will life get back to “normal.”
Sarah also talks with Anders Johansen, professor of planetary sciences and planet formation at the University of Copenhagen, about his Science Advances paper on a new theory for the formation of rocky planets in our Solar System. Instead of emerging out of ever-larger collisions of protoplanets, the new idea is that terrestrial planets like Earth and Mars formed from the buildup of many small pebbles.
China, the UAE and the U.S. all have spacecraft visiting Mars in February to study the Red Planet. WSJ explains how out-of-this-world technology is being used by NASA’s Perseverance and China’s Tianwen-1 in the search for evidence of life beyond our planet. Photo: NASA
DNA clues point to how dire wolves went extinct, and a round-up of the main impacts of Brexit on science.
In this episode:
00:45 Dire wolf DNA
Dire wolves were huge predators that commonly roamed across North America before disappearing around 13,000 years ago. Despite the existence of a large number of dire wolf fossils, questions remain about why this species went extinct and how they relate to other wolf species. Now, using DNA and protein analysis, researchers are getting a better understanding of what happened to these extinct predators.
Research Article: Perri et al.
11:43 Research Highlights
The secret to Pluto’s blue haze, and the neural circuitry underlying mice empathy.
Research Highlight: Ice bathes Pluto in a blue haze
Research Highlight: Brain maps show how empathetic mice feel each other’s pain
13:31 Post-Brexit science
In December, a last minute trade-deal between the UK and EU clarified what the future relationship between the two regions would look like, after Brexit. We discuss the implications of this trade-deal for science funding, the movement of researchers, and data sharing.
News Explainer: What the landmark Brexit deal means for science
23:18 Briefing Chat
We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, concerns about contaminating water on the moon, and the spy satellites that spied out environmental change.
The New York Times: Inside the C.I.A., She Became a Spy for Planet Earth