When the Moon’s shadow races across the continental United States on 21 August, researchers will be waiting — in planes, on mountaintops and at other carefully chosen vantage points along the roughly 110-kilometre-wide path of totality. Thanks to the sheer number of observers, solar physicists hope to learn more from this latest total solar eclipse than from any previous such event, and to use that knowledge to develop tools for next time.

The US government is considering a plan to allow wireless firms to share radio frequencies used in weather forecasts.

On 4 July, NASA intends to finish a job that started with the agency’s Galileo mission 21 years ago. At 8:18 p.m. Pacific time, the Juno spacecraft will ignite its main engine for 35 minutes and nudge itself into orbit around Jupiter. If all goes well, it will eventually slip into an even tighter path that whizzes as close as 4,200 kilometres above the planet’s roiling cloud-tops — while dodging as much of the lethal radiation in the planet’s belts as possible.

Following a record winter in many ways, Arctic sea-ice cover seems poised to reach one of its smallest winter maxima ever. As of 28 February, ice covered 14.525 million square kilometres, or 938,000 square kilometres less than the 1981–2010 average. And researchers are using a new technique to capture crucial information about the thinning ice pack in near real time, to better forecast future changes.

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LIGO 'hears' space-time ripples produced by black-hole collision.

They are 5 billion kilometres from the Sun in the dim, far-flung outskirts of the Solar System, but Pluto and its large moon Charon turn out to be astonishingly vital worlds. Images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which flew within 12,500 kilometres of Pluto on 14 July, reveal frosty plains, soaring mountains and much more geological activity than anyone anticipated.

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The great Sichuan earthquake of 12 May 2008 caught Earth scientists off guard. A year on, Alexandra Witze reports from the shattered towns on how researchers have learned from their failures.

When people talk about catastrophic climate change, there's a fair chance that Greenland is on their mind. If they use the term 'tipping point', then it is pretty much a sure thing. One-twentieth of the world's ice is locked up atop that island, and if it were to melt completely, global sea levels would rise by seven metres. The collapse of the Greenland ice sheet is in the front rank of potential climate catastrophes.