Earth & Environment

The "third rock from the Sun"—Earth. With an orbit neither too close nor too far from the Sun, it occupies a unique position in the Solar System. It's the only planet known to man with the right conditions for the origin and evolution of life. During Earth's 4.5 billion-year history, a combination of processes has transformed it into a watery blue, living planet. The Earth's ecosystems involve complex interactions between the biological (living) and physical (non-living) worlds. Scientific research helps us comprehend our effects on the environment and how the environment in turn responds to impacts of our activities.

A sea without stars

An infectious disease, which causes the limbs of starfish to crawl away from their bodies, is killing multiple species along the west coast in the largest marine epidemic ever known. Scientists think the pathogen spreads through the water and physical contact, as well as through shellfish. Starfish are a keystone species, so their loss could disrupt the ecosystem, say scientists.

Snowflakes photographed by new high-speed camera

In the late 1800's, Wilson Bentley and Gustav Hellmann began photographing snowflakes. However each of their photos revealed entirely different representations of snowflakes. How could nature present two different forms of snowflakes? Today University of Utah engineer Cale Fallgatter and atmospheric scientist Tim Garrett are helping to solve that mystery with the use of a new camera system that photographs free-falling snowflakes.

The JetYak

WHOI engineers develop a new type of ocean robot

NSF Science Now: Episode 30

Hosted by NSF's Dena Headlee, Science Now is a weekly newscast covering some of the latest in NSF-funded innovation and advances across all areas and disciplines, from astronomy to zoology. This fast paced, news round-up reports many of the week's top stories.

Conserving biodiversity

Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, the Central African Biodiversity Alliance is an international partnership of scientists, students and policy makers working to build a framework to conserve biodiversity in Central Africa. The partnership spans three continents, and includes researchers from the U.S., Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Otolith signals

About the size of a diamond and comes from the inner ear of a fish, this tiny construction holds a treasure trove of information--a calcium carbonate microchip made of bone and accessed by a laser. Let's take a look at the science of otoliths.

Arctic spring

Something surprising is happening in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska.