NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/Univ. of Arizona(NEW YORK) — NASA is sifting through new clues that could yield insights about how ancient Mars went from a planet with surface water to the dry, Red Planet it is today.
It is believed ancient Mars had a thicker atmosphere, allowing water on its surface to not immediately evaporate while the Martian atmosphere of modern times is inhospitable to surface water.
Scientists analyzed the largest known deposit of carbonate minerals on Mars to determine what may have happened to cause the shift in the planet's atmosphere. While scientists don't have a definitive answer, they found the ancient atmosphere may have lost much of its carbon dioxide by the time valleys began to form on the Martian surface.
Carbon dioxide makes up the bulk of the atmosphere on the so-called Red Planet and can be pulled into the ground where it can have chemical reactions with rocks to form carbonate mineral deposits. While scientists initially expected to find evidence of carbon from much of the planet's original atmosphere in the deposits, they instead found only a few concentrated areas.
"The biggest carbonate deposit on Mars has, at most, twice as much carbon in it as the current Mars atmosphere," Bethany Ehlmann, one of the scientists working on the study, said in a statement. "Even if you combined all known carbon reservoirs together, it is still nowhere near enough to sequester the thick atmosphere that has been proposed for the time when there were rivers flowing on the Martian surface."
While the analysis didn't provide a definitive answer, it did raise the possibility the top of Mars' atmosphere could have been lost to outer space instead of having it pulled into the ground.
The Curiosity rover has also found evidence validating the top of atmosphere loss, but NASA is now looking to its MAVEN orbiter, which has been studying the Martian outer atmosphere, to help provide some clarity about the Red Planet's mysterious history.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With China sending five Navy ships into the Bering Sea north and west of Alaska for the first time ever, the nation’s top military officer says the move highlights the need for both the U.S. and China to work to avoid "miscalculations and interactions that could be unsafe at sea and in the air."
In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the vessels operating in international waters close to Alaska indicate to him that China is “developing capabilities to expand their reach” as they continue to pursue economic interests.
Dempsey said that the more China asserts itself, “the more they are likely to interact with us and the more responsibility we both have to avoid miscalculation and interactions that could be unsafe at sea and in the air.”
“It tells me we should be more engaged with them and it tells me that we have to help allow China to become peaceful and prosperous and rise economically without becoming threatening” to U.S. allies in the region, Dempsey said, also noting that the U.S. has five alliances in the Pacific region.
More of General Dempsey's interview will air this Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that the vessels had recently entered the Bering Sea and were operating in international waters north of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.
"We respect the freedom of all nations to operate military vessels in international waters in accordance with international law,” said Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman. “We are aware of the five People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships in the Bering Sea. This is the first time we have observed PLAN ships in the Bering Sea.”
A U.S. defense official said the vessels include three combat ships, an amphibious ship and a replenishment vessel that had been participating in an ongoing joint Russian-Chinese military exercise taking place in the waters of the Sea of Japan.
The vessels were tracked by the U.S. moving northeast towards the Bering Sea where the official says the U.S. continues to monitor their operations.
The official says it is unclear for what specific purpose China may have moved the ship’s into the Bering Sea but said "they’re being there indicates an interest in the Arctic region."
The Arctic Circle begins south of the Bering Strait about 600 to 700 miles north of where the Chinese ships are currently located in the Bering Sea.
On Wednesday, President Obama visited a region of Alaska in the Arctic Circle as part of a three day visit focusing on the impact of climate change in the Arctic.
Getty Images Europe(MOSCOW) -- A pair of scientists on a remote Russian island are besieged in their research station by a group of aggressive, hungry polar bears.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says that a meteorologist and an engineer are stuck inside the Fyodorov weather station on Vaygach island in the Arctic Ocean, an incredibly remote place.
The researchers have told the charity that the bears have started sleeping near their hut, behaving aggressively and fighting one another over food, which is a bad sign. They tried to scare off the bears with flares but it apparently had no effect.
The researchers normally go outside twice a-day to take readings from the sea but the likelihood of being attacked by a bear means they have not been able to.
The men said they don't have anything else to try and drive the bears away.
WWF says it is going to ask the Russian government to send help.
Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A display of 888,246 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London, an exhibit that attracted millions on visitors last year, is going on tour across the United Kingdom, first stopping at Yorkshire Sculpture Park on Sept. 5.
Created by artist Paul Cummins and installation designer Tom Piper, "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" was a way to honor every single death in the British and colonial forces during World War I.
"The London installation had a huge impact on all those who saw it and the new installations will do the same,” John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said in a written statement. “This is an another important opportunity for us to remember and pay tribute to those who gave their lives in the First World War"
“The calmness and nature of the Park will offer visitors an ideal space for contemplation and reflection,” Peter Murray, executive director of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, said in a written statement, noting that the poppies will be surrounded by 500 acres of countryside and woodland.
The installation known as "Weeping Window" will later be exhibited at Woodhorn Museum, in Northumberland and at St. George’s Hall in Liverpool.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS(NEW YORK) — We've spotted faces, animals and now even a kitchen utensil on the surface of Mars.
The Mars Curiosity Rover captured a photo of the Red Planet's surface showing a mysterious rock formation that looks a lot like a floating spoon.
Located in the center of the photo, the feature appears to be floating in mid air with a shadow from the "spoon" being cast onto the red surface of the planet. The Martian oddity was first noticed by users on the Unmanned Spaceflight forum.
It's unclear how old the delicate feature may be or how long it will be able to survive on the surface before its worn down by Martian weather.
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Talk about taking the long way.
Three astronauts are en route to the International Space Station but first they'll have to do 34 orbits of Earth to get there.
The three-person team, which includes a Russian, a Dane and a Kazakh, blasted off Wednesday on board a Soyuz rocket on a two-day journey to reach the ISS. While astronauts have taken a direct six-hour route in recent years, the Russian Federal Space Agency said it decided to switch to the traditional route over security concerns after the space station adjusted its orbit in order to dodge space junk.
When the trio arrive on Friday, they'll bring the total number of astronauts at the International Space Station to nine. The Kazakh and the Dane are set to return to Earth on Sept. 12, along with Gennady Padalka, who is the current station commander and will hand off the duty to American astronaut Scott Kelly.
The fossil is an estimated 6 million years old and closely resembles the Amazon river dolphin, with a long nose and tiny eyes.
But, the bones were found in an oceanic area, leading scientists to believe that it had swam towards inland rivers once ocean levels rose.
“Knowing more about the evolutionary history of River Dolphins is giving us important information into the circumstances under which river dolphins evolved,” Smithsonian paleontologist Nick Pyenson told ABC News.
“This is an example of how the fossil record can bear critical issues of our time.”
Natalie Amyot/YouTube(NEW YORK) — A French woman made headlines Tuesday when she went on a very public search for the father of her unborn baby conceived during a one-night-stand on her Australia vacation.
But it all turned out to be a bizarre tourism marketing campaign for Holiday Mooloolaba. Mooloolaba is a tourist destination on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia.
In a video posted to YouTube Aug. 30, a young woman who identifies herself as Natalie Amyot stands on a beach and says she had gone on a vacation to Mooloolaba three months earlier. She describes her amazing trip and says on the last night, she met a man and "had a beautiful night."
The next day she flew home to Paris and lost her phone with his contact details. Six weeks later, she said, she found out she was pregnant.
She returned to Mooloolaba, she said, to find him. Her video pleads with the public to share it and help her find her baby's father. It was viewed almost 2 million times.
On Tuesday, "Amyot" -- who has since been outed as an actress -- posted a new video called "I FOUND HIM." It's then revealed that the video was produced by Andy Seller of Sunny Coast Social Media for Holiday Mooloolaba.
"I know there's going to be a lot of you upset by this," Seller says to the camera.
He goes on to say that while "Amyot" was the face of the video, he did all the behind-the-scenes work.
Commenters on the reveal video are angry.
"Mooloolaba is a beautiful place, but why advertise in such a negative way? You've more than likely turned people away now. Great job," one person wrote.
"HEY YOU, I sincerely hope that nobody will ever come, but EVER, to your s***** moolooly spot. Which really sounds so s***** you have to create a f****** story about pregnant girls to get people over you f****** moron," wrote another.
In the video, Seller, the creator, says. "We just wanted to put Mooloolaba on the map because it's a wonderful place. So thank you for watching and we are going to do many, many more videos like this."
Jessica McGowan/Getty(MONTREAL) -- It's perhaps best known for its major league baseball team, the Braves, and for hosting the 1996 Olympics. Now, Atlanta, Georgia is home to the world's busiest airport.
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson is one of four U.S. airports to make the top 10 list, according to data released Monday from Airports Council International. The others are LAX in Los Angeles (5); Chicago O'Hare (7) and Dallas-Fort Worth (9).
The Montreal-based council ranks the airports based on passenger traffic. More than 96 million passengers arrived or departed from Hartsfield-Jackson in 2014. That's 10 million more than the second-place airport, Beijing's Capital International Airport.
neneos/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(ROME) -- In a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Pope Francis on Tuesday decided to allow priests to absolve women who have had abortions.
"One of the serious problems of our time," the pope wrote, "is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life," he added.
"I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion," the letter continues. "I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal."
As part of the upcoming holy year, Pope Francis said that "the forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented."
"For this reason...I have decided...to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness of it."
The pope added that priests can offer absolution by "expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed."
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images(BANGKOK, Thailand) -- A second suspect in the deadly bombing at a Thailand shrine last month has been arrested, the Thai prime minister announced on Tuesday.
BBC News reports that the suspect was taken into custody in the Sa Kaeo province near the Thai border with Cambodia. A foreign individual was arrested over the weekend in connection with the explosion that killed more than 20 people.
Officials have not released information identifiying the suspects.
BBC News says that it is not clear whether either of the two in custody are the prime suspect, seen on a security camera leaving a backpack at the shrine shortly before the bombing.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images(LONDON) — A number of migrants arriving in Turkey hoping to reach Europe are purchasing fake Syrian passports in order to claim asylum at the end of their journey, the head of the European border management agency Frontex told French radio Tuesday.
“There is a traffic of Syrian passports,” Fabrice Leggeri told Europe 1, “because it’s extremely lucrative for smugglers.”
Syrian citizens are legally entitled to refugee status in any European country because of the civil war in their country.
Those using fake passports, Leggeri said, are mainly from North Africa or the Middle East, migrating for economic reasons. But he admitted that authorities do not have a complete picture of those migrating to Europe.
"We have an idea of nationalities but we don't have full profiles," Leggeri said.
Asked by the radio host whether terrorists could be reaching Europe, Leggeri said, "It is not impossible but we are extremely vigilant."
Overall, the number of illegal crossings at European borders since January has gone up 175 percent, according to Frontex, reaching an estimate number of 340,000 individuals arriving in the European Union. The number only reflects people who are being registered, Leggeri said, adding that not all migrants are being registered because of the volume.
About 88,200 of those making their way to the E.U. are Syrians, according to the latest International Organization for Migration figures, which is more than the next four countries of origin put together.
Greece has become the principal port of entry for many migrants and refugees over recent weeks: 234,778 people have arrived in Greece as of Tuesday, compared with 114,276 in Italy.
The Hungarian Interior Ministry said Tuesday that around 142,000 people had requested asylum in Hungary, including 45,000 migrants from Syria. In Macedonia, about 1,500 migrants are waiting to cross the border and head north toward to Germany, Austria and Scandinavian countries.
To deal with this ongoing humanitarian crisis, the head of Frontex said Europe urgently needs more border patrol officers, especially in the Greek islands.
Romanista/iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- More than 1,300 Iraqis were killed and nearly 2,000 more were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in August, according to the latest data from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq.
In total, UNAMI says, 585 Iraqi civilians were killed and 1,103 more were hurt. Additionally, 740 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed, with 708 more wounded.
"With the steadily increasing number of casualties, internally displaced persons, and the alarming rate of Iraqis fleeing war, persecution and poverty to seek refuge abroad, the successful implementation of the government reform plan will be a paramount to restore order, legality and social justice in the country and renew confidence in the fair participation of all in the society," said Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General Jan Kubis.
A perigee full moon or "supermoon" is seen on Aug. 10, 2014, in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)(NEW YORK) — There will be an extra special show in the night sky this month when a rare supermoon lunar eclipse will occur for the first time since 1982.
The cosmic event will take place on the night of Sept. 27 when two periodic events — supermoons and lunar eclipses — will happen at the same time, making for a rare coincidence.
A supermoon occurs when a full moon happens when it is at the closest point in its elliptical orbit around Earth, making the full moon appear up to 14% larger and brighter than usual. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into Earth's shadow, often turning a blood red color.
The partial lunar eclipse is set to begin at 9:07 p.m. ET and will be visible to most people in the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, according to EarthSky.org. The total lunar eclipse begins at 11:11 p.m. ET.
You won't want to miss this event. The next supermoon lunar eclipse won't come around until 2033.
ABC News(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Francis participated in a virtual audience today with Americans from around the country during an event hosted exclusively with ABC News.
The event was moderated from inside the Vatican by ABC News’ "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir, as the pontiff engaged via satellite with individuals from three different groups: students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city, congregants from a McAllen, Texas, church located near the U.S.-Mexico border and homeless men and women and those working with the homeless in Los Angeles.
The event will air in a one-hour special edition of ABC News’ "20/20" on Friday, Sept. 4 at 10 p.m. ET. In addition, the event will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on ABCNews.com.
The event coincides with the pope’s upcoming visit to the United States, scheduled for later this month, when Francis is expected to travel to Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia from Sept. 22 to Sept. 27.
The pope’s U.S. trip includes a meeting with President Obama at the White House, an address in front of a joint-meeting of Congress, an address at the U.N. General Assembly in New York and a "multi-religious service" at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
His trip will conclude in Philadelphia at the World Meeting of Families, a global event organized by the Catholic Church that focuses on strengthening family bonds. Event organizers expect up to two million people to attend the pope’s closing mass.
Only three other reigning popes have ever visited the United States: Paul VI in 1965, John Paul II, who traveled to the country seven different times, and Pope Benedict XVI, who visited in April 2008.
Born in Argentina, Francis, 78, is the first Latin American and first Jesuit to lead the Roman Catholic Church. He succeeded Benedict in 2013, and since then the pontiff has won wide acclaim for his modern views on religion, his hands-on work with the less-fortunate and his acceptance of the LGBT community.