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Earth and Planetary Science

18 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 12 December 2013

Every year Earth and planetary scientists from all over the world meet up at the American Geophysical Union’s meeting in San Francisco. They discuss the latest research and discoveries about our and other planets. This year, BBC reporters Jon Amos and Rebecca Morelle were at the conference and they explained to Jon Stewart some of the most exciting stories.

There is the latest news from NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars. New measurements are about to guide the rover to start looking for signs of past life on the Red planet. Organic molecules could be signs of microbial life. By dating sedimentary rocks, and working out where the rocks least exposed to organic chemical destroying radiation are. Scientists hope to guide the rover to possible sites where signs of life may be found.

Researchers have discovered that the strange 'Mima mounds' found all over the world are caused by digging animals like gophers and moles. Excavating earth over hundreds of generations to make these strange pimpled surfaces that cover many kilometres of our planet.

A cave in Banda Aceh has revealed historic tsunami data hidden in layers of bat guano and shell debris.

There is news that the size of the supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park in the US is 2.5 times bigger than was previously thought.

We also find out where the coldest place on Earth is – clocking in at a spine chilling 93.2 Celsius (135.8F) and hear what science reporter Alok Jah is doing en route to Antarctica. He is following the footsteps of Douglas Mawson, who led the first science expedition to the icy continent, 100 years ago.

(Photo credit: Mars © NASA/Getty Images)


6 items
  • Mars Rover

    Curiosity starts searching for signs of organic matter on Mars.

  • Mystery of the Mima Mounds

    Gophers and other digging animals are responsible for strange pimpled earth occurrences.

  • Banda Aceh Cave

    A cave reveals historic tsunami date hidden in layers of bat guano and shell debris.

  • Supervolcano in Yellowstone

    The supervolcano in Yellowstone NP is much bigger than previously thought.

  • Coldest Place on Earth

    Satellites measure temperatures of 93.2 Celsius (135.8F) in Antarctica.

  • Antarctic Odessy

    Alok Jah reports on his progress to Antarctica, following in scientist’s footsteps.


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