Robert Siegel talks to retired Navy Captain Don Walsh about the attempt by movie director James Cameron to take a submersible capsule to the bottom of the Mariana Trench — the deepest spot on Earth. Walsh says the National Geographic and James Cameron expedition will be a combination of science and adventure, because Cameron is a storyteller and dedicated amateur explorer. Walsh made a 1960 dive to the same trench.
Monday marks the 50th anniversary of astronaut John Glenn’s orbiting of Earth. Glenn — who was one of NASA’s original Mercury Seven — was the first American to achieve the feat. He flew the mission in just under five hours, circling the globe three times in a capsule named Friendship 7. Glenn, who says he recalls the mission as if it were just last week, tells Audie Cornish he doesn’t want the US to lose sight of the future and America’s role in outer space.
Several times in earth’s history continents have collided to form supercontinents only to later break apart. Geologist Ross Mitchell discusses a new study in Nature that predicts in 50 to 200 million years time the Americas and Eurasia will collide to form a supercontinent over the Arctic.
This week solar flares sent a huge blast of X-rays and charged particles screaming towards the Earth. Solar astronomer David Hathaway and physicist Doug Biesecker discuss the sun’s explosive behavior, and how that ‘space weather’ affects satellites, airplanes and the electric grid.
One upon a time, the largest glass telescope mirror was 100 inches in diameter. Today, scientists are casting a mirror 27 feet in diameter that will be part of one of the most powerful telescopes on Earth. NPR’s Joe Palca speaks with weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz from the mirror laboratory, located under the football stadium at the University of Arizona.
With recent earthquakes near a well in Ohio, there’s renewed focus on activities like drilling and mining that are known to cause earthquakes. It’s all about water: adding, moving or removing water from underground environments changes the stability of the earth and can actually create some sizable quakes.
By tracking the blinking light of distant stars, NASA’s Kepler space telescope has identified the first Earth-sized exoplanets, and another which orbits its star in the “Goldilocks zone,” where liquid water–and possibly life–could exist. Principal investigator William Borucki talks about the newly discovered worlds.
The Soyuz TMA-22 delivered NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who blasted off from Kazakhstan on Monday. The three newcomers were greeted with hugs and handshakes from American Michael Fossum, Russian Sergey Volkov and Japanese Satoshi Furukawa who have been at the station since June and are due to return to Earth next week.
Scientists were trying to establish how and where the defunct research satellite returned to the Earth Sunday, after warning that some parts might survive re-entry and crash at up to 280 mph. A spokesman said there was no immediate solid evidence to determine above which continent or country it entered the atmosphere.
On the craggy bluffs of Mistaken Point in Newfoundland, the wind and waves are licking away the rocks to reveal the oldest animal fossils on Earth. Locals are promoting the fossils, and the creatures are drawing a crowd. And now they are an economic engine for an area that had hit tough times.
China launched an experimental spacecraft from the Gobi desert this week. The unmanned Tiangong-1 (which means “Heavenly Palace-1”) is expected to orbit Earth for two years. Journalist Miles O’Brien discusses planned docking missions for the craft and China’s space program.
Sometime this week, a school bus-sized satellite will fall to Earth after two decades in orbit. Most of it will burn up in the atmosphere, but some pieces — and one possibly as large as 300 pounds — are expected to hit the ground. But there’s little risk that they’ll hit a person.
Tyrannosaurus rex roamed the Earth some 65 million years ago. In the century since the first skeleton was unearthed in Montana, our understanding of how the giant predator lived, moved and behaved has evolved. Watch videos that show the latest T. rex research in motion.