Planetary Science

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Earth tectonic diagram

TECTONIC TIMETABLE  Plate tectonics will grind to a halt in a few billion years, researchers predict. A computer simulation calculated how heat flows through a planet’s interior, including this snapshot during a period of active plate tectonics.

comet 67P

KEY INGREDIENTS  Phosphorus and glycine, both essential to life, have been found at comet 67P, seen in this March 29 picture from the Rosetta spacecraft.

Illustration of spacecraft flying by Europa

TARGET: EUROPA  Slamming a spent fuel tank into the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa could vibrate the surface so much that a spacecraft flying by (shown in artist’s illustration) could see the tremors. Scientists might be able to analyze the tremors to gauge the thickness of the ice. 

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