While humans have been struggling to control the Covid-19 pandemic, baking in record heat, and trying to figure out how not to run out of water, our spacecraft on Mars have been enjoying a rather more tranquil existence.
(Not needing to breathe helps.) Parked on the Martian surface, the InSight lander is listening for marsquakes, while the Perseverance rover is rolling around in search of life.
This week, scientists are dropping an Olympus Mons of findings from the two brave robots. In three papers published today in the journal Science—each authored by dozens of scientists from around the world—researchers detail the clever ways they used InSight’s seismometer to peer deep into the Red Planet, giving them an unprecedented understanding of its crust, mantle, and core.
It’s the first time scientists have mapped the interior of a planet other than Earth. And yesterday, another group of scientists held a press conference to announce early research results from Perseverance, and the next steps the rover will take to explore the surface of Jezero Crater, once a lake that could have been home to ancient microbial life.
Posted by Kelly Whitt in Earth | Human World | February 20, 2021
A magnetic reversal 42,000 years ago helped bring about earthly extinctions, scientists said, accompanied by changes in the sky including electrical storms and widespread auroras.
A new international study suggests that a magnetic field reversal – combined with changing solar winds – contributed to an environmental crisis and mass extinctions 42,000 years ago. It happened around the time of the demise of the Neanderthals, an extinct human species that once roamed what’s now Europe, these scientists said, and it would have come with electrical storms, widespread auroras and an influx of cosmic radiation.
An ancient, well-preserved tree that was alive the last time the Earth’s magnetic poles flipped has helped scientists pin down more precise timing of that event, which occurred about 42,000 years ago.
This new information has led them to link the flipping of the poles to key moments in the prehistoric record, like the sudden appearance of cave art and the mysterious extinction of large mammals and the Neanderthals. They argue that the weakening of the Earth’s magnetic field would have briefly transformed the world by altering its climate and allowing far more ultraviolet light to pour in.