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Blog Archive


IceBreaker: The Search for Life on Mars

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/09/08 09:19 CDT | 3 comments

The IceBreaker mission, proposed to NASA's Discovery program for low-cost missions, would seek out life on the northern plains of Mars.

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Four Ideas to Bust the Floor on Outer Planet Mission Costs

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/03/26 08:25 CDT | 7 comments

The road to lower costs outer planet missions has been paved by NASA’s first two New Frontiers missions, the $700M New Horizons mission to Pluto and the $1.1B Juno mission to Jupiter. But can the cost of a mission to the outer solar system be cut to $450M, the limit for a Discovery mission?

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A Sky Full of Stars

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2015/03/09 08:03 CDT | 3 comments

In pictures of the planets, the stars aren't usually visible. But when they do appear, they're spectacular.

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Fountains of Water Vapor and Ice

Posted by Deepak Dhingra on 2015/01/22 11:22 CST | 2 comments

Deepak Dhingra shares some of the latest research on Enceladus' geysers presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco last month.

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45th Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium Report

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2014/09/23 12:15 CDT | 1 comments

The 45th Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium, usually focused on terrestrial studies, shifted this year to planetary science. Ted Stryk gives us an overview.

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Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 8: Icy Galilean Satellites, Saturn System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/04/11 02:28 CDT

Explore the icy moons of the Jupiter System and tour the Saturnian system in this video of class 8 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Discovery Missions for an Icy Moon with Active Plumes

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/04/02 07:31 CDT | 8 comments

In December, scientists announced the discovery of possible plumes of water being ejected from Jupiters’s moon Europa. If confirmed, Europa would be the second moon with confirmed plumes after Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Two Discovery mission proposals for Enceladus suggest the types of missions that may be proposed for Europa.

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Snapshots of Science from the 2014 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/25 02:45 CDT | 2 comments

Vignettes from dozens of LPSC talks: GRAIL and LADEE at the Moon; ice and craters and conglomerates and organics and gullies on Mars; polar deposits and volatile elements on Mercury; tectonics on Enceladus; and more, until my brain was so full I could barely speak.

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Intro Astronomy Class 1: Tour of the Solar System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/11 05:53 CST | 1 comments

Take a tour of the Solar System in the video of class 1 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Enceladus huffs and puffs: plumes vary with orbital longitude

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/11 07:22 CST | 2 comments

In which I finally get around to writing about a paper published last August: Enceladus' plumes sometimes spout more and sometimes spout less, depending on where Enceladus is in its orbit. This discovery was enabled by Cassini's longevity at Saturn, and we'll be able to follow up on it, as long as Cassini is allowed to complete its mission.

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Europe Will Select Its Next Major Science Mission in November

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/09/25 01:22 CDT | 2 comments

The European Space Agency will announce two major science missions this November, one of which is likely to be devoted to solar system exploration.

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Scale comparisons of the solar system's major moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/10 06:05 CDT | 15 comments

A few presentation slides with pretty pictures, sized to scale, of the large moons of the solar system.

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One Ocean World Among Many

Posted by Jim Bell on 2013/06/03 03:53 CDT | 6 comments

I'm absolutely floored when I stop to think that our beautiful blue ocean is only one of perhaps a half dozen or more oceans on other worlds in our solar system, and only one of probably millions (or more) oceans on other Earth-like planets in our galaxy. Oceans abound!

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Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: Reports from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/28 02:00 CDT | 5 comments

On Thursday at noon PDT / 1900 UTC I'll report on some of my favorite findings from LPSC, and answer your questions about the latest planetary science.

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LPSC 2013: License to Chill (or, the solar system's icy moons)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/27 11:52 CDT

Reports from the March 19 session at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference covering eight icy moons in the outer solar system: Ganymede, Europa, Dione, Rhea, Mimas, Tethys, Enceladus, and Miranda.

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Enceladus: A problem of contrast

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/01/30 07:00 CST | 6 comments

Time for my quarterly foray into the Cassini archival science data! The very first image I downloaded from the January 1, 2013 data release presented an interesting challenge to my image processing skill. I'll show you the pretty picture of Enceladus and then explain how I processed it.

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Happy Cassini PDS Release Day!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/08 01:00 CDT | 2 comments

It's a quarterly feast day for me: the day that the Cassini mission delivers three months' worth of data to NASA's Planetary Data System. Here's a few images processed from the October 1, 2012 data release.

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Pretty pictures from Cassini's recent Dione flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/05/04 05:44 CDT

Cassini performed its last of three close encounters with Enceladus for 2012 two days ago, and followed the flyby with some spectacular images of Dione.

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Pretty pictures from Cassini's weekend flybys of Enceladus and Tethys

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/16 03:11 CDT

Cassini flew past both Enceladus and Tethys on April 14. Here's a cool animation of its approach to Enceladus' plumes, and a pretty global picture of Tethys.

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Pretty picture: Enceladus, in lovely color

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/06 02:38 CST

Here's an awesome picture to start off the week. The data came from Cassini's flyby of Enceladus on January 31, 2011; it was part of Cassini's January 2012 data release.

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