Mercury’s North Pole May Have Icy Craters

The yellow spots represent icy areas.

Ice? On the planet closest to the Sun? You heard right: Mercury’s northern pole may have craters containing frozen water.

The evidence, presented in three papers published last week in Science, comes from several sources. The Mercury Laser Altimeter, an instrument on the Mercury space probe, MESSENGER, helps scientists map the topography of the planet by firing lasers at its surface and recording the time it takes for the light to return. The inst

Team uses fractal geometry to build lighter structures

(—A team made up of members from several European countries has published a paper in Physical Review Letters describing a technique they've developed for using fractal geometry to build structures that maintain their strength despite weighing significantly less.

World's smallest wrench puts new twist on microscopic manipulation; Harnesses laser light's ability to gently push and pull

Harnessing laser light's ability to gently push and pull microscopic particles, researchers have created the fiber-optic equivalent of the world's smallest wrench. This virtual tool can precisely twist and turn the tiniest of particles, from living cells and DNA to microscopic motors and dynamos used in biological and physical research.

NASA Mars Rover Fully Analyzes First Martian Soil Samples

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has used its full array of instruments to analyze Martian soil for the first time, and found a complex chemistry within the Martian soil. Water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances, among other ingredients, showed up in samples Curiosity's arm delivered to an analytical laboratory inside the rover.

NASA Voyager 1 Probe Encounters New Region in Deep Space

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region at the far reaches of our solar system that scientists feel is the final area the spacecraft has to cross before reaching interstellar space.

Bismuth provides perfect dance partners for quantum computing qubits

New research has demonstrated a way to make bismuth electrons and nuclei work together as qubits in a quantum computer.

Diamond-like coating improves electron microscope images

(—Coating the surface of a material with a single layer of diamond-like crystals greatly improves images of it taken with an electron microscope, according to a study led by scientists at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.

Measuring individual atoms with compact X-ray lasers

To look at small objects typically requires big machines. For example, the study of single atoms with a laser requires x-ray radiation of such high energy that it is only produced by accelerating electrons in large facilities. Researchers at the RIKEN SPring-8 Center in Harima have developed a more affordable electron laser design, the SPring-8 Angstrom Compact free-electron Laser (SACLA), which is not only compact and therefore economic to build but also delivers x-rays with unprecedented short wavelengths.

Small and efficient: Water nanodroplets cool biomolecules ultrafast

Researchers have observed how biomolecules transfer energy into extremely small water droplets in their environment. A water shell consisting of only three water molecules around a phospholipid molecule is sufficient for energy transfer within 1 ps.

NASA Announces New Civil Rights Compliance Website for Grant Recipients

NASA has launched a new website,, devoted to broadening the reach of its civil rights technical assistance program.


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