Earth’s orbit creates more than a leap year

Image courtesy of NASAThe Earth’s orbital behaviors are responsible for more than just presenting us with a leap year every four years. According to Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D., associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, parameters such as planetary gravitational attractions, the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun and the degree of tilt of our planet’s axis with respect to its path around the sun, have implications for climate change and the advent of ice ages.

Washington University, China’s ShanDong University will collaborate on Moon data

Photo courtesy NASAAmid a bevy of international space exploration missions to the Moon, the Washington University Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences and ShanDong University at WeiHai (SDU at WH) in Mainland China have agreed to cooperate on scientific research and joint training of students in the two institutions. The agreement comes less than a year away from the planned launch of Chang’E-1, the Chinese lunar probe project, in April, 2007. The goals of China’s Chang’E-1 project are first to place a satellite into orbit around the Moon in 2007; then to land an unmanned vehicle on the Moon by 2010; and to collect samples of lunar soil with an unmanned vehicle by 2020. The spacecraft carries five instruments to image and measure different features of the Moon. Within two years, three additional missions from the United States, India and Japan will generate a furious flurry of data that will keep space scientists enthralled for the better part of the next decade. The Japanese Selene mission is scheduled to launch in the summer of 2007, the Indian Chandrayaan-1 in late 2007 or early 2008, and the United States’ Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter for October 2008. More…

Popular site sheds light on meteorites

Randy Korotev with a sample meteorite found in Siberia.The mysterious orb you find in your backyard that wasn’t there just the day before has to be a meteorite, right? Wrong. Overwhelmingly the chances are it’s a meteorwrong, says Randy Korotev, Ph.D., research associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. He says that 998 out of 1,000 meteorites are from asteroids, one out of 1,000 is from the Moon, and one out of 1,000 is from Mars. Of the hundreds of meteorites that have been found in the United States, none has been a lunar meteorite, and only one has been a Mars meteorite.