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"Saying it has no evidence Exxon is currently funding climate denial efforts, the American Geophysical Union maintains its sponsorship by the oil giant." "The American Geophysical Union announced Thursday that it will continue to accept sponsorship money from ExxonMobil. The decision came after more than 100 AGU members and other scientists sent a letter to the organization's leadership in February urging the association to stop accepting  money from the oil giant. The letter noted that Exxon was under investigation by the New York and California attorneys general "for its long history of climate denial campaigns." Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands attorneys general have also launched investigations. In a majority vote, AGU board members decided at a meeting last week that the organization would continue accepting money, if offered, from the oil company."

New Horizons science team members are highlighting the latest findings from the Pluto flyby at this week's American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meeting in San Francisco. Among the highlights are insights into Pluto's geology and composition, as well as new details about the unexpected haze in Pluto's atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind. "We're much less than halfway through transmitting data about the Pluto system to Earth, but a wide variety of new scientific results are already emerging," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Geological evidence has been found for widespread past and present glacial activity, including the formation of networks of eroded valleys, some of which are "hanging valleys," much like those in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. "Pluto has greatly exceeded our expectations in diversity of landforms and processes—processes that continue to the present," said Alan Howard of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, a scientific collaborator with the New Horizons' Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team. Key to understanding activity on Pluto is the role of the deep layer of solid nitrogen and other volatile ices that fill the left side of Pluto's 'heart'—a vast, 620-mile (1,000-kilometer) -wide basin, informally named Sputnik Planum. New numerical models of thermal convection within this ice layer not only explain the numerous polygonal ice features seen on Sputnik Planum's surface, but indicate this layer may be up to a few miles thick. Evaporation of this nitrogen and condensation on higher surrounding terrain leads to glacial flow back toward the basin; additional numerical models of nitrogen ice flow show how Pluto's landscape has been and is still being transformed. In the last few months, New Horizons has also returned a multitude of color and phase-angle data on the remarkable atmospheric haze that surrounds Pluto, rising hundreds of miles or kilometers above the surface. In addition to assessing its optical properties, the science team is examining several important questions about Pluto's extensive haze: where it originates, why it forms layers, and how it varies spatially around Pluto. "Like almost everything on Pluto, the haze is much more complicated than we thought," said Andy Cheng, New Horizons co-investigator with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland. "But with the excellent New Horizons data currently in hand, we soon expect to have a much better understanding." New Horizons has also found new and more stringent limits for an atmosphere on Pluto's largest moon, Charon. Moreover, scientists studying infrared spectral observations of Charon from the LEISA instrument aboard New Horizons are reporting evidence that ammonia (NH3) absorption occurs at a low level across a large portion of Charon's surface, not just the high local concentrations that had been previously detected in a few locations. One of those, the informally named Organa Crater, had been noted as being especially rich in NH3. It's not yet known what controls the distribution of Charon's NH3, or if it comes from Charon's interior or an external source. New Horizons scientists are also presenting findings about how Pluto and its moons interact with the solar wind, a constant stream of particles and plasma that flows from the Sun and is still traveling at 900,000 miles per hour (1.4 million kilometers per hour) at Pluto. Pluto's outflowing atmosphere provides a source of neutral atoms that can exchange electrons with the solar wind's positively charged atoms of oxygen (O), carbon (C), and nitrogen (N). Observations from the Earth-orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory during closest approach contributed to scientists' understanding of the processes at work. Team members searched for X-ray emissions near Pluto to help determine the rate at which Pluto's atmosphere is being lost to space, in much the same way X-ray emissions are used to characterize the outflow of material from comets. New Horizons, speeding through deep space at more than 32,000 miles per hour, is approximately 115 million miles (185 million kilometers) beyond Pluto and 3.2 billion miles (5.2 billion kilometers) from Earth. All spacecraft systems are healthy and operating normally. Explore further: New Pluto images from NASA's New Horizons

After reviewing hundreds of pages of background material regarding its relationship with ExxonMobil, the American Geophysical Union (AGU)’s leaders have voted to continue corporate sponsorship with the oil giant. During its April meeting, the society’s board considered whether accepting funding from ExxonMobil would be in conflict with its sponsorship policy. That policy says the society will not accept funding from promoters of scientific misinformation and those that would damage the reputation of . . .

More than 100 scientists are calling on the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to cut financial ties with oil giant ExxonMobil because of allegations that the company misled the public about climate change. In a letter sent last week to the earth and planetary science society’s president, members of the organization and other concerned geoscientists urged AGU to drop ExxonMobil as a sponsor of its annual meeting.

A new competition will award up to $7 million to advance autonomous, fast, and high-resolution exploration of the deep ocean, organizers announced on Dec. 14 at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. Shell is providing $6 million for seafloor mapping and imaging, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is contributing a $1 million “bonus” for detecting chemical and . . .

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