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Astrogeology: May 2021


Scientists led by Michael Ackerson, a research geologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, provide new evidence that modern plate tectonics, a defining feature of Earth and its unique ability to support life, emerged roughly 3.6 billion years ago.

High-temperature and high-pressure experiments involving a diamond anvil and chemicals to simulate the core of the young Earth demonstrate for the first time that hydrogen can bond strongly with iron in extreme conditions.

Astronomers have identified more than 4,000, and counting, confirmed exoplanets -- planets orbiting stars other than the sun -- but only a fraction have the potential to sustain life.