Manhattan's Central Park is surrounded by one of the densest cities on the planet. It's green enough, yet hardly the first place most people would think of as biologically rich.
But a team of scientists got a big surprise when they recently started digging there.
They were 10 soil ecologists — aka dirt doctors. Kelly Ramirez from Colorado State University was among them. "We met on the steps of the natural history museum at 7 a.m. with our collection gear, coolers and sunblock," she recalls.
Earlier this week NASA announced that two private companies will build spaceships to take astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA hopes that both models will eventually be used by space tourists to get into orbit. Which got us wondering, which one would we rather fly in?
Four billion years ago, Mars may have looked completely different. Water could have flowed across the planet's surface. There might have been life. To support these conditions, the planet's atmosphere must have been very different.
A NASA mission to investigate that atmosphere – and why it changed – is about to enter orbit around the Red Planet. Led by scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder, the mission, called MAVEN (short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN), consists of a satellite that will orbit the planet.
The northern arm of the Rocky Mountains is sometimes called "the crown of the continent," and its jewels are glaciers and snowfields that irrigate large parts of North America during spring thaw.
But the region is getting warmer, even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists now say warming is scrambling the complex relationship between water and nature and could threaten some species with extinction as well as bring hardship to ranchers and farmers already suffering from prolonged drought.
On a windy August day outside of Fort Collins, three Colorado State University students crouch in a field, harvesting a crop by hand. The plants in the field, which are browning slower than usual during a wet, cool summer, are a light tan color and about knee high.
The crop is called camelina, and the researchers believe these plants, which produce tiny, oil-filled seeds, could provide farmers with the ability to grow their own fuel on the farm.