Earth's Surface

An illustration of the ERS-2 satellite.

SMART NEWS

A 5,000-Pound Satellite Is Falling Back to Earth This Week—and Will Likely Land in the Ocean

Alessandro Rotta Loria and a student in his lab walk through a train tunnel beneath the Chicago Loop.

SMART NEWS

Chicago May Be Slowly Sinking Because of 'Underground Climate Change'

An illustration of the Snowball Earth with some open water around the equator and a newly proposed patch of ocean at mid-latitudes

SMART NEWS

How Life Could Have Survived the Frozen ‘Snowball Earth’

A present-day orange demosponge (Agelas oroides) can be found off the coast of Corfu, Greece. Research suggests sponges may have lived on Earth 890 million years ago.

SCIENCE

This Sponge Fossil May Be the Earliest Record of Animal Life

Earth's Crust

Costa Rica's Arenal volcano spews geysers of lava, ash and toxic gases

SCIENCE

Why Central American Volcanoes Are Ideal for Studying Earth's Evolution

A high-temperature hydrothermal vent field discovered on Puy des Folles Seamount on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at approximately 6,562 feet in depth.

SMART NEWS

See the Breathtaking Ocean Life Found at Deep-Sea Vents

A radar image of Venus' largest block of crust, located in the planet's lowlands and identified by the authors of a new paper.

SMART NEWS

Venus May Still Be Geologically Active

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.

AT THE SMITHSONIAN

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

Featured story

Nematodes (blue) wiggle inside a stalactite from a South African gold mine in this image taken with a microscope.

SCIENCE

Inner Earth Is Teeming With Exotic Forms of Life

More than a mile below the surface, our planet supports diverse creatures that could give us clues about life across the solar system

Earth's Mantle

Costa Rica's Arenal volcano spews geysers of lava, ash and toxic gases

SCIENCE

Why Central American Volcanoes Are Ideal for Studying Earth's Evolution

An artist's rendition of the collision between Earth and the protoplanet Theia, which, according to the prevailing theory, resulted in the moon's formation.

SMART NEWS

Mysterious Lumps in Earth's Mantle May Be Remains of the Crash That Formed the Moon

A picture taken in 2014 of the JOIDES Resolution, the ship used for the recent drilling expedition. 

SMART NEWS

Scientists Extract Rocks From Earth’s Mantle

A high-temperature hydrothermal vent field discovered on Puy des Folles Seamount on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at approximately 6,562 feet in depth.

SMART NEWS

See the Breathtaking Ocean Life Found at Deep-Sea Vents

Earth's Core

Previous analyses of seismic activity on Mars suggested its core was surprisingly large, with a low density. Two new studies suggest the opposite.

SMART NEWS

Mars' Core May Be Smaller Than Thought, Wrapped in a Sea of Molten Rock

An artist's rendition of the Pysche asteroid. Data suggests that Psyche is between 30 and 60 percent metal, unlike any object in the solar system scientist's have observed up close before.

SMART NEWS

NASA Launches Mission to Study Distant Asteroid

Some scientists think that Earth's inner core is actually made up of two similar but distinct layers.

SMART NEWS

Scientists Find Evidence of Another Core Within Earth's Center

An artist's rendition of a cross-section of Earth. The innermost layer, the inner core, is a 1,500-mile-wide ball of iron.

SMART NEWS

The Spin of Earth's Inner Core May Be Changing, Scientists Say