NASA to Probe the Interior of Mars

A $425 million lander that would drill a few meters into Mars in order to probe its crust, mantle, and core will be NASA's next major planetary science mission. In a teleconference late Monday, NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, John Grunsfeld, announced that he has selected the InSight mission to Mars as NASA's next cost-capped mission to explore the solar system. The craft will set a seismometer on the surface and send a temperature sensor down a drill hole to better understand how that rocky planet evolved from a nascent ball of magma.

At Long Last, Moon’s Core ‘Seen’

Apollo astronauts may be garnering another prize from their exploits of more than 3 decades ago. They left seismometers across the face of the moon to probe its interior, but no one had been able to paint a clear picture from the data the sensors collected. Now, two independent groups have reanalyzed the Apollo data using modern but very different techniques, and both teams say they have detected lunar seismologists' prime target: a core of iron that is still molten 4.5 billion years after the moon's formation.

How to Kill a Well With Gravity

Oil giant BP plc has a very long straw stuck 3048 meters into the Gulf of Mexico sea floor with oil and gas spouting out the top at several thousand pascals. How do BP engineers stop the flow when none of the control valves at the top is working and there's no way to put a stopper in the straw's end? The only option is using gravity, notes petroleum engineer Paul Bommer of the University of Texas, Austin.

Gulf Oil Threat to Florida Waning Fast

No one is lowering their guard just yet, but the chances are diminishing that significant amounts of oil from the ongoing Deepwater Horizon spill will soon make it to southern Florida. In part, it is the behavior of the Gulf of Mexico's increasingly infamous Loop Current that could lower the threat.