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Separating fact from speculation about Kepler-20's Earth-sized planets

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/20 04:53 CST

A large team of researchers has announced in a Nature article the discovery of not one, but two, Earth-sized planets orbiting a star named Kepler-20. This article separates the observational facts from the quite-likely-to-be-true inferences from the downstream speculations.

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Notes on Dawn at Vesta from the 2011 American Geophysical Union meeting

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/08 03:19 CST

A report on the press briefing and talks from the Fall 2011 American Geophyisical Union meeting about the data on Vesta collected so far by Dawn.

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First-ever high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar image of Enceladus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/01 07:22 CST

On the November 6, 2011 flyby of Enceladus -- the third such flyby in just a few weeks -- the Cassini mission elected to take a SAR swath instead of using the optical instruments for once. So here it is: the first-ever SAR swath on Enceladus. In fact, the only other places we've ever done SAR imaging are Earth, the Moon, Venus, Iapetus, and Titan.

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How radio telescopes get "images" of asteroids

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/08 10:52 CST

This is a repost of an article I wrote in April 2010; I thought it'd be useful reading for those of you interested in today's near-Earth flyby of asteroid 2005 YU55.

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Earth observing satellites record large Arctic ozone loss

Posted by Jason Davis on 2011/10/14 06:31 CDT

Data from Earth observing satellites Aura and CALIPSO have shown record losses of seasonal ozone in the Arctic.

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Eris and embargoes (or: don't fear Ingelfinger!)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/12 04:49 CDT | 2 comments

Last Tuesday at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting Bruno Sicardy presented the results of his research group's observations of a stellar occultation by Eris.

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Notes from Day 5 of the EPSC/DPS meeting: Saturn's storm, Phobos, and Lutetia

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/07 07:09 CDT

Today was (is) the last day of the Division of Planetary Sciences / European Planetary Science Congress meeting in Nantes, France.

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Notes from Day 3 of the EPSC/DPS meeting (all about MESSENGER)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/05 11:04 CDT

Today I largely spent in the MESSENGER sessions. They have a lot of data to talk about.

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Some first impressions of EPSC-DPS meeting

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/03 11:55 CDT

Today they turned on the scientific fire hose at the Division of Planetary Sciences / European Planetary Science Congress meeting happening here in Nantes, France. My brain already feels full and I still have four more days!

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Tethys and Dione don't seem to be active after all

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/23 01:09 CDT

About four years ago I wrote a blog entry about an ESA press release about paper published in Nature that suggested that Saturn's moons Tethys and Dione might have volcanic activity, like Enceladus. A new paper published in Icarus casts doubt on that conclusion.

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Reading Itokawa's life history from microscopic samples

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/20 01:58 CDT

When Hayabusa's sample return capsule was first opened and found to be very clean-looking inside, I doubted that there could be enough material for laboratory analysis. JAXA announced later that they scraped about 1500 dust grains from the inside with a teflon spatula, and these likely came from Itokawa.

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Video: Zooming around Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/16 08:44 CDT

The Dawn team released today a nice little video that flies around a shape model of Vesta produced by DLR, the German Aerospace Corporation, who built and operate Dawn's camera.

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New Horizons Day 2: Liquids on Pluto's surface?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/13 01:27 CDT

Jeff Moore's presentation was cool because of the discussion it stimulated. He considered what exogenic processes might be operating on Pluto's surface. What's an exogenic process? It's something that modifies the shape of the surface from the outside, and doesn't require the body to be geologically active inside.

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New Horizons Day 2: Tectonic features on icy worlds

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/09 01:05 CDT

The second day of the New Horizons Workshop on Icy Surface Processes was about geology and geophysics. This long post just covers the first talk of that day.

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New Horizons workshop, day 1: Chemistry & climate on Pluto & other cold places

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/30 11:27 CDT

Today and tomorrow I'm attending the New Horizons Workshop on Icy Surface Processes. The first day was all about the composition of the surface and atmosphere of Pluto, Charon, Triton, and other distant places.

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Gale's not the only Martian crater with an "enigmatic mound"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/17 07:33 CDT

Much has been made of the "enigmatic mound" within Gale crater, which will be the target of the Curiosity Mars rover's investigations. The 5,000-meter-thick section rocks in Gale's central mound will be fascinating to study, but the fact that Gale has a central mound that's taller than its rim is not at all unusual on Mars.

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What a Day! From Earth to the Moon and Mars

Posted by Bill Nye on 2011/07/21 03:02 CDT

Mission accomplished! It's been thirty great years for the Space Shuttle program. With this venerable space vehicle retired, it's on to the next adventure.

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Observing at the WIYN

Posted by Meg Schwamb on 2011/06/08 02:43 CDT

On May 5 and 6, I had a run on the WIYN (Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO) telescope, a 3.5 m telescope, the second largest telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona.

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Zapping Rocks for Science

Posted by Ryan Anderson on 2011/05/27 09:01 CDT

Laser beams and space exploration are perfect for each other, and not just because all self-respecting starship captains know their way around a blaster. It turns out that zapping rocks with a laser is not only fun, it also can tell you what they're made of!

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South of the Border

Posted by Meg Schwamb on 2011/05/25 08:30 CDT

The last decade has seen an explosion in our understanding of the solar system with the discovery of the largest Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) of comparable size to Pluto.

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