Atmosphere

  • Although there are trillions of liters of water floating around in the air, it’s not easily accessible. Now engineers have developed a device powered by the Sun that can pluck practical quantities of drinkable water out of thin air, and they've successfully field-tested it in the Arizona desert.
  • ​An important arm of exoplanet research involves the study of the atmospheres that surround these distant worlds. The molecules they hold can reveal valuable insights into what kind conditions can be found there – along with ones that cannot.
  • An international team of astronomers has made the first-ever detection of helium in the atmosphere of an extrasolar world. The new technique used to make the discovery could pave the way for scientists hoping to reveal the atmospheres of distant Earth-sized exoplanets.
  • ​Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have put together the first global carbon dioxide maps based on data from the Chinese satellite TanSat. The satellite also measures “carbon dioxide flux,” changes in its behavior on Earth and in the Earth's atmosphere.
  • The ESA/Roscosmos Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) is mere weeks away from commencing its atmospheric search for evidence of recent geological activity, and possibly life on everyone’s favorite Red Planet.
  • NASA has released a somber view of Saturn, created from some of the final images captured by the Cassini spacecraft. An annotated version of the image highlights the region of Saturn’s cloud surface in which Cassini ended its epic mission by diving into the atmosphere of the gas giant.
  • A new study has calculated there is more than 15 million gallons of toxic mercury trapped in the permafrost north of the equator. That's around 10 times the mercury emissions produced by humans over the past 30 years and researchers are understandably concerned about the effects it could have.
  • Fresh air might not be quite as fresh as we think. Viruses and bacteria get swept up into the atmosphere in enormous amounts, and now a new study has quantified that amount, finding that untold billions of microorganisms are raining down across the Earth every day.
  • NASA's Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) instrument was launched into orbit earlier today atop an Ariane 5 rocket, with a mission to shed light on how the uppermost layers of Earth's atmosphere can be affected by powerful space and Earth-based weather events.
  • Billions of years ago, the Great Oxygenation Event wiped out most life on Earth at the time. This ramped up about 2.5 billion years ago, but now scientists have discovered signs of the oldest known “oxygen oasis” in South Africa, showing that the process started almost half a billion years earlier.
  • The Moon isn’t quite the wasteland we might assume it to be. There’s more water up there than scientists previously thought, and it was a far wetter and more active place in the distant past. Now, a NASA study has found evidence that the ancient Moon may once have had a watery atmosphere.
  • Science
    Much study has focused on the effects these rising carbon dioxide levels could have on weather patterns and global temperatures, but could elevated atmospheric CO2 levels negatively affect the nutritional value of the food we grow?