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Blog Archive

 

Radar in Earth and Planetary Science: An Intro

Heather Hunter • February 24, 2017

Heather Hunter explains how radar works and what it's used for on Earth and beyond.

Subsurface Water Ice in Utopia Planitia, Mars

Cassie Stuurman • November 22, 2016

Martian radar expert Cassie Stuurman explains how the SHARAD instrument aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was used to detect buried ice deposits.

DPS/EPSC update on New Horizons at the Pluto system and beyond

Emily Lakdawalla • October 25, 2016

Last week's Division for Planetary Sciences/European Planetary Science Congress meeting was chock-full of science from New Horizons at Pluto.

DPS/EPSC update: 2007 OR10 has a moon!

Emily Lakdawalla • October 19, 2016

The third-largest object known beyond Neptune, 2007 OR10, has a moon. The discovery was reported in a poster by Gábor Marton, Csaba Kiss, and Thomas Mueller at the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society (DPS/EPSC) on Monday.

Rosetta spacecraft may be dying, but Rosetta science will go on

Emily Lakdawalla • September 29, 2016

The Rosetta mission will end tomorrow when the spacecraft impacts the comet. ESA took advantage of the presence of hundreds of members of the media to put on a showcase of Rosetta science. If there’s one thing I learned today from all the science presentations, it’s this: Rosetta data will be informing scientific work for decades to come.

Gaia's first galaxy map

Emily Lakdawalla • September 14, 2016

The astronomy world is abuzz today because of ESA's announcement of the first release of data from the Gaia mission. Gaia is a five-year mission that will eventually measure the positions and motions of billions of stars; this first data release includes positions for 1.1 billion of them, and proper motions for 2 million.

Let’s be careful about this “SETI” signal

Franck Marchis • August 30, 2016

Several readers have contacted me recently about reports that a group of international astronomers have detected a strong signal coming from a distant star that could be a sign of a high-technology civilization. Here’s my reaction: it’s interesting, but it’s definitely not the sign of an alien civilization—at least not yet.

Proxima Centauri b: Have we just found Earth’s cousin right on our doorstep?

Franck Marchis • August 24, 2016

What began as a tantalizing rumor has just become an astonishing fact. Today a group of thirty-one scientists announced the discovery of a terrestrial exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri. The discovery of this planet, Proxima Centauri b, is a huge breakthrough not just for astronomers but for all of us. Here’s why.

Gullies on Mars: Wet or Dry (Ice)?

Tanya Harrison • August 17, 2016

Martian gullies were in the spotlight last week thanks to a NASA press release stating they were "likely not formed by liquid water" based on spectral results. But how does this stack up against their morphology?

Oppositions, conjunctions, seasons, and ring plane crossings of the giant planets

Emily Lakdawalla • July 07, 2016

When are the solstices and equinoxes on the giant planets, and when are they best positioned for view from Earth? I ask these questions a lot as I write about Earth photos of giant planets, and I finally decided to gather the answers to those questions in a single post.

Atmospheric Waves Awareness: An Explainer

Anna Scott • April 20, 2016

There are two types of atmospheric waves that are critically important on Earth and other planets: gravity waves and planetary waves.

Favorite Astro Plots #4: Classifying Exoplanets

Jingjing Chen • April 15, 2016

Until just a few years ago, a plot of mass versus size of other worlds would have looked pretty sparse and uninformative. But thanks to the tireless efforts of exoplanet astronomers, we now know fairly precise masses and radii for hundreds of distant worlds.

Fog Detection from the Surface of Titan: New Findings From Old Data

Brittney Cooper and Christina Smith and John Moores • April 07, 2016

Huygens may have landed on Titan over a decade ago, but a group of researchers from York University were able to make a new and unexpected discovery with this older dataset.

LPSC 2016: So. Much. Ceres.

Emily Lakdawalla • March 30, 2016

At last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, I enjoyed a large number of talks about Ceres. Now in its Low-Altitude Mapping Orbit, Dawn is showering scientists with high-resolution, color data.

Clouds and haze and dust, oh my!

Sarah Hörst • March 24, 2016

What types of aerosols do we find in the atmospheres around the Solar System, and why does what we call them—clouds vs. haze vs. dust—matter? Sarah Hörst explains.

Dinosaurs & Space— and Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Planets: These are a Few of Our Favorite Things

Bill Nye • March 15, 2016

One of my favorite times of the year is upon us: the national conference of the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA). For the last couple of—er… decades, I’ve given lectures at this conference to support science teachers and find out what’s on their minds this school year.

"Planet Nine" update: Possible resonances beyond the Kuiper belt?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 08, 2016

A new paper by Renu Malhotra proposes that an undiscovered distant planet could have organized extremely distant Kuiper belt objects into orbital resonances.

xkcd: Possible Undiscovered Planets

Emily Lakdawalla • January 22, 2016

Randall Munroe is a genius at disguising seriously educational infographics as funny jokes.

Theoretical evidence for an undiscovered super-Earth at the edge of our solar system

Emily Lakdawalla • January 20, 2016

It's looking likelier that there is an undiscovered planet orbiting beyond the Kuiper belt. If it's there, it's roughly 10 times the mass of Earth (or about half the mass of Neptune), likely never gets closer to the Sun than about 100 AU, and takes more than 10,000 years to orbit the Sun.

Capturing the Rhythm of Space: Insights from 47th DPS Meeting

Deepak Dhingra • January 07, 2016

The Division of Planetary Science (DPS) Meeting saw many exciting scientific discussions spanning the range of processes on different planetary bodies, as well as their replication in the laboratory and in models.

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