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LPSC 2013: Seeing in Permanent Shadow

Michael Poston • April 03, 2013

The case for water ice hidden in permanently shadowed regions at the north pole of the planet Mercury received another boost recently. On Wednesday March 20, 2013 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Nancy Chabot presented the very first visible-light images of what is in the shadows of these polar craters.

LPSC 2013: watery Martian minerals

Emily Lakdawalla • March 28, 2013

Some interesting results from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference on clay minerals on Mars and what they might mean about ancient water.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • March 27, 2013

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.

LPSC 2013: The Smaller They Are, The Better They Shake

Emily Lakdawalla • March 25, 2013

Really cool movies from Jim Richardson propose to explain how the same physics of impact cratering can produce such differently-appearing surfaces as those of the Moon, large asteroids like Eros, and teeny ones like Itokawa.

LPSC 2013: Do we have a meteorite from Mercury?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 21, 2013

Before yesterday, my answer to this question would be "no." Now my answer is "probably." But it's not clear if we know which of the meteorites in our collections is from the innermost planet.

LPSC 2013: Sedimentary stratigraphy with Curiosity and Opportunity

Emily Lakdawalla • March 20, 2013

A mind-boggling quantity of information is being presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. In my first report from the meeting, I try to make sense of the Curiosity and Opportunity sessions.

Comet PANSTARRS from the other side of the Sun!

Karl Battams • March 14, 2013

Comet PANSTARRS is delighting northern hemisphere viewers right now. But it's also big, bright, and beautiful to the STEREO spacecraft.

Yes, it was once a Martian lake: Curiosity has been sent to the right place

Emily Lakdawalla • March 12, 2013

The news from the Curiosity mission today is this: Curiosity has found, at the site called John Klein, a rock that contains evidence for a past environment that would have been suitable for Earth-like microorganisms.

Instruments for the JUICE Jovian Mission

Van Kane • March 07, 2013

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced the list of instruments selected for its JUICE mission to explore the Jovian system for three years starting in the 2030 following a 2022 launch.

Meteor showers on Titan: an example of why Twitter is awesome for scientists and the public

Emily Lakdawalla • March 06, 2013

I use a variety of social networking tools to perform my job, but there's one that's more important and valuable to me than all the rest combined: Twitter. Yesterday afternoon there was a discussion on Twitter that exemplifies its value and fun: are there visible meteors on Titan?

Sea Salt

Mike Brown • March 06, 2013

Ever wonder what it would taste like if you could lick the icy surface of Jupiter’s Europa? The answer may be that it would taste a lot like that last mouthful of water that you accidentally drank when you were swimming at the beach on your last vacation.

Will comet Siding Spring make a meteor shower on Mars?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 05, 2013

JPL's Solar System Dynamics group shows that there is still a possibility that C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) could hit Mars. But the uncertainty in its position at that time is large -- the closest approach could happen an hour earlier, or an hour later -- so we're a long way from knowing yet whether it will or (more likely) won't impact.

Webcast Tonight! Planetary Scientist and Society President Jim Bell

Mat Kaplan • February 20, 2013

Professor Bell's topic is "Exploring Mars, the Moon, Asteroids, and Comets with Rovers and Landers," and there is no one better to talk about this subject.

Why don't we have any photos of asteroid 2012 DA14 if it came so close?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 19, 2013

A frequently-asked question last week was: if asteroid 2012 DA14 is coming so close to Earth, why hasn't anyone taken any pictures of it? Now that 2012 DA14 has whizzed past us, we do finally have some radar pictures of it, but they still may not satisfy everyone.

Observing 2012 DA14

Edward Gomez • February 18, 2013

Mostly the Universe stays unchanged for hundreds, thousands or even millions of years. There are some cases however when some things change really rapidly. Recently I observed one of these rapidly changing, transient phenomena, as asteroid called 2012 DA14. I work for Las Cumbres Observatory and we have been trying to observe this asteroid since 5 February.

When will New Horizons have better views of Pluto than Hubble does?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 18, 2013

Last week, I posted an explainer on why Hubble's images of galaxies show so much more detail than its images of Pluto. Then I set you all a homework problem: when will New Horizons be able to see Pluto better than Hubble does? Here's the answer.

Why can Hubble get detailed views of distant galaxies but not of Pluto?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2013

How come Hubble's pictures of galaxies billions of light years away are so beautifully detailed, yet the pictures of Pluto, which is so much closer, are just little blobs? I get asked this question, or variations of it, a lot. Here's an explainer.

Planetary Society Hangout Thursday Feb 7th at 12:00 PST/20:00 UT: Snow and Ice on Mars with Paul Hayne

Casey Dreier • February 07, 2013

Join us this week as we feature our guest, Dr. Paul Hayne from JPL. Dr. Hayne studies snow and ice on Mars, extreme temperatures of the Moon, and is on the Cassini science team. He also founded the group Young Scientists for Planetary Exploration to help organize early-career scientists to be aware of the politics of space.

My Free Online College Intro Astronomy Class Starts Today

Bruce Betts • February 06, 2013

Bruce Betts is teaching online Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy at California State University Dominguez Hill again in 2013. You can watch live or archived.

Guide to Asteroid 2012 DA14 Super Close Approach

Bruce Betts • February 04, 2013

The 45 meter asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass closer to Earth than geostationary satellites on Feb. 15, 2013. Learn about the asteroid and what to expect from the close approach.

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