April 26, 1803 was an unusual day in the small town of L’Aigle in Normandy, France – it rained rocks.
On Oct.13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar surface, produced an image that was wild and jittery. From the sudden and jagged pattern apparent in the image, the LROC team determined that the camera must have been hit by a tiny meteoroid, a small natural object in space.
For years now, scientists have understood that Mars was once a warmer, wetter place. Between terrain features that indicate the presence of rivers and lakes to mineral deposits that appeared to have dissolved in water, there is no shortage of evidence attesting to this “watery” past. However, just how warm and wet the climate was billions of years ago (and since) has been a subject of much debate.
The origin of life on Earth has been a matter of intense debate throughout human history. Even today, scientists don’t know whether the molecular building blocks of life were created on Earth or whether they were brought here by comets and meteorites. This is obviously hugely important – if they were delivered to Earth then it seems plausible that they may have been transported to other planets, too.
We live on a moving target in a cosmic firing range. Each day, the Earth is bombarded by about a hundred tonnes of space debris. It may sound alarming, but this is really nothing to worry about. Most of the objects that fall towards our planet are pretty small – typically about the size of a grain of sand or even smaller – and burn up in the upper atmosphere tens of kilometres above the ground.