LAUREL, Md. — Alan Stern, head of the New Horizons mission to Pluto, had just three words for the team of scientists and engineers assembled with him on July 14: “We did it.”
At 8:52:37 p.m. Eastern time, a radio antenna near Madrid received the first signal from the spacecraft since it buzzed the dwarf planet. After decades of planning and a 9.5-year journey...
Tiny, far-flung Pluto is about to have a visitor — at least for a few hours.
On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will reach the dwarf planet and try to learn all it can about Pluto and its five known moons. Then the probe will leave Pluto behind, vanishing into the frigid darkness beyond the planets.
In its wake, New Horizons will introduce Earth to the...
Gas bubbles effervesce from a mound of muck on the seafloor in a deep submarine canyon off the west coast of Canada. Microbes beneath the sediment belch the bubbles after feasting on the ancient remains of algae, sea critters and their poop: a primordial stew that’s been simmering since long before humans walked the Earth.
This gassy oasis attracts an odd collection of critters. Worms...
Joshua Pearce takes unusual satisfaction in strolling through Walmart. The shelves laden with toys, household items, tools and clothing inspire in him a certain smugness, a pride in American entrepreneurship. But it’s not because Pearce admires the chain as an empire built by a self-made man. Pearce swells with pride at Walmart because the store is full of mass-manufactured objects that he...
To those who live there, east Africa’s Afar region is “the place the devil plows.” One of the hottest and lowest areas on Earth, it is a landscape of baking desert and barren lava flows. To scientists, though, Afar means something more promising: geology in the raw.
There, on the edge of Africa, the continent is splitting apart. Pulled inexorably by the...
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