Inquiry, Discovery, Inquiry

The feature called Maskelyne is one of many newly discovered young volcanic deposits on the Moon. Called irregular mare patches, these areas are thought to be remnants of small basaltic eruptions that occurred much later than the commonly accepted end of lunar volcanism, 1 to 1.5 billion years ago. (Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

This is why NASA rocks:

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has provided researchers strong evidence the moon’s volcanic activity slowed gradually instead of stopping abruptly a billion years ago.

Scores of distinctive rock deposits observed by LRO are estimated to be less than 100 million years old. This time period corresponds to Earth’s Cretaceous period, the heyday of dinosaurs. Some areas may be less than 50 million years old. Details of the study are published online in Sunday’s edition of Nature Geoscience.

“This finding is the kind of science that is literally going to make geologists rewrite the textbooks about the moon,” said John Keller, LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Variations of a blue pigment were developed at Oregon State University. (Photo: Mas Subramanian)Science as a career is, to a certain degree, a form of job security. That is, while one might argue the idea of job security through perpetuation of the problem in certain political argumentation, the reality is that you don’t need to do that with science. That is to say, when you make a scientific discovery, you also raise a million new questions for scientists to answer.

No, really. Did you hear about the time all of five years ago that scientists at Oregon State University accidentally created a new shade of blue?


NASA. “Release 14-284: NASA Mission Finds Widespread Evidence of Young Lunar Volcanism”. 12 October 2014.

Chang, Kenneth. “By Happy Accident, Chemists Produce a New Blue”. The New York Times. 23 November 2009.

Did Someone Say ‘Firehole’?

And then there is this ….

Ed Mazza explains what we are seeing:

The park says extreme heat from thermal areas is causing hot oil to bubble to the surface of Firehole Lake Drive, a scenic 3.3-mile loop that runs past Great Fountain Geyser, White Dome Geyser and Firehole Lake ….

…. “It basically turned the asphalt into soup,” park spokesman Dan Hottle told USA Today. “It turned the gravel road into oatmeal.”

That same thermal heat melting the road is what gives the park its famous geysers, hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles. But for the moment, some of these natural wonders will be off-limits as officials ask both motorists and hikers to avoid the area.

Yellowstone Road Melts, Shutting Down Access to Famous Geysers

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Might we suggest some light, enlightening reading?

Linden-2014-FermiGC-detail-smDark matter?

• Or, maybe, zebra stripes around planet Earth?

• Perhaps contemplating the multiverse?

• Or puzzling over the “strangest magma on Earth”? How about extraterrestrial volcanoes?

• Would you believe the Permian-Triassic extinction was caused by microbes?

• Was that whole skydiver and meteorite thing true?