Earth Science

Winchcombe meteorite

Meteorites May Have Brought Water to Earth and Mars

Rare, carbon-containing rocks could have created conditions suitable for life on both planets, two new studies suggest

The dark patches on the image of the sun captured by  NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory are trio of coronal holes. 

NASA’s 'Smiling Sun' Image Is a Reminder of the Threat of Solar Wind

Coronal holes on the sun can release jets of charged particles that may interfere with Earth's atmosphere

A cluster of galaxies that Slayton created in Minecraft

This 18-Year-Old Recreated the ‘Entire Universe’ in Minecraft

From the video game's blocks, he built galaxies, a nebula, a black hole and the solar system

A second asteroid may have struck the dinosaurs at the end of Cretaceous period, around 66 million years ago

The Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid May Have Had a Companion

A newly discovered crater suggests a second impact that would have triggered underwater landslides and tsunamis

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano releases gas on December 24, 2021, before the eruption on January 14.

Tonga Volcanic Eruption Blasted an Enormous Plume of Water Vapor Into the Atmosphere

NASA scientists say the intrusion could warm the Earth's surface

Generally, the Earth is slowing its spin ever so slightly, so why it seems to be speeding up lately is a mystery.

The Earth Had Its Shortest Day in Recorded History

On June 29, our planet completed one rotation in 1.59 milliseconds less than 24 hours

The Earth’s oceans have risen and fallen over the millennia. But they have, on average, been relatively stable over billions of years. The balance of the deep water cycle—the exchange of water between the Earth’s surface and its interior—has an important role to play in maintaining that stability.

How the Earth's Mantle Sends Water Up Toward the Surface

A new model suggests "mantle rain" ensures we will always have a surface ocean

Researchers excavated fossils from a site in Turkey that helped them fill in some of the history of a previously unknown continent called Balkanatolia. 

Fossils Help Scientists Identify a 'Lost' Continent

Millions of years ago, a giant island called Balkanatolia shifted and connected Asia to Europe, allowing animals to migrate

Frozen ground preserved the body of this seven-week-old wolf pup, which lived during the Ice Age.

Five Fascinating Ice Age Finds Discovered in Yukon Permafrost

From a pristinely preserved wolf pup to ancient camels, remains found in northern Canada's frozen earth have provided remarkable glimpses into the Ice Age

A popular tourist site, Turkmenistan's Darvasa crater pit has been burning gas for over 50 years. The country's attempts to put out its flames have been unsuccessful. 

The Quest to Extinguish the Flames of Turkmenistan's Terrifying 'Gates of Hell' Firepit

The country's president says it’s time to quash the ongoing 50-year blaze at the 230-foot-wide Darvaza gas crater

Courtney Gallaher’s Women in Science students at Northern Illinois University created quilt blocks representing astrophysicist Margaret J. Geller, biologist Rachel Carson, and mathematician Ada Lovelace.

Inside the Growing Movement to Share Science Through Quilting

The classic medium allows researchers, students and artists to tell stories about science, technology, engineering and math

The creation of clouds over forested areas shows that reforestation would likely be more effective at cooling Earth’s atmosphere than previously thought, a Princeton study says.

Planet Positive

Planting Trees Encourages Cloud Formation—and Efficiently Cools the Planet

New study examines cooling effect of clouds produced by deciduous forests under pressures of climate change

Lightning strikes the iconic Washington, D.C. landmark “twice per year on the high end and once every five years on the low end,” says meteorologist Chris Vagasky.

Watch a Bolt of Lightning Strike the Washington Monument

The iconic obelisk remains temporarily closed as workers repair an electronic access system damaged by the storm

The Humboldt Forum opened in the heart of Berlin on July 20.

Why Germany's Newly Opened Humboldt Forum Is So Controversial

Critics cite the Berlin museum's ties to the country's colonialist past

James Smithson was the Smithsonian’s founding donor, bequeathing approximately one ton of gold British sovereigns.

Smithsonian 175

Why Did James Smithson Leave His Fortune to the U.S. and More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

A proposed government plan will move the A303 highway, pictured here in the distance behind Stonehenge's iconic structures, underground. But Unesco warned in a report Monday that the efforts might endanger the site's OVU, or outstanding universal value.

Unesco Weighs Changes to Stonehenge's Cultural Heritage Status

A new report also cited Venice and the Great Barrier Reef as sites that might be placed on the World Heritage in Danger list

An artist’s illustration shows an asteroid hitting Earth. Large impactors hit the planet every one to three million years.

New Research of Impact Crater Blows Away Previous Estimates of Its Age

Scientists say the Boltysh crater in Ukraine formed well after the impact in Mexico that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct

A photo of the Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory in Hawaii where scientists measure atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

New Research

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Reaches New High Despite Pandemic Emissions Reduction

Global carbon emissions in 2020 were lower than they were in 2019, but those reductions would need to be sustained for years to slow the climate crisis

Combining carbon dioxide and calcium creates calcium carbonate rocks such as limestone.

To Combat Climate Change, Researchers Want to Pull Carbon Dioxide From the Ocean and Turn It Into Rock

Running seawater through an ocean carbon capture plant could chemically convert carbon dioxide to limestone on a grand scale

Zircons are the oldest minerals in the world and come in colors like the rich blue above. Researchers have now used these gemstones to identify when modern plate tectonics began.

Smithsonian Voices

Earth's Oldest Minerals Hold Clues About the Likely Start of Plate Tectonics

New research reveals how one of Earth’s defining geologic features likely formed—and set the stage for the emergence of life

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