In the typical textbook picture, volcanoes, such as those that are forming the Hawaiian islands, erupt when magma gushes out as narrow jets from deep inside Earth. But that picture is wrong, according to a new study.
If you ask Andy Ingersoll how Caltech has contributed to our understanding of the universe, he will tell you, "Caltech invented planetary science!" And since the field's origins just fifty years ago, Caltech has become one of the top centers of planetary science research in the world.
Since the magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake 20 years ago, researchers at Caltech have learned much more about where earthquakes are likely to happen, and how danger to human life and damage to property might be mitigated when they do occur.
Bruce Churchill Murray, Caltech Professor of Planetary Science, Emeritus, and former head of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), succumbed to complications of Alzheimer's disease on August 29, 2013. He was 81.
For most terrestrial life on Earth, oxygen is necessary for survival. But the planet's atmosphere did not always contain this life-sustaining substance, and one of science's greatest mysteries is how and when oxygenic photosynthesis—the process responsible for producing oxygen on Earth through the splitting of water molecules—first began. Now, a team led by geobiologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has found evidence of a precursor photosystem involving manganese that predates cyanobacteria, the first group of organisms to release oxygen into the environment via photosynthesis.
John Grotzinger, Caltech’s Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology and project scientist for Curiosity—JPL’s newest Mars rover, exploring the floor of Gale Crater—will describe its discoveries so far during a free public lecture on Wednesday, April 24.