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"Sand" means something different to me than it does to you, probably

Emily Lakdawalla • January 24, 2013

I had one of those "A-ha" moments last week where I suddenly realized that I had run afoul of a common problem in science communication: when the words I'm using mean something different to me than they do to almost everyone I'm talking to. The confusing word of the week: "sand."

Planetary Society Hangout: Jan 24th, 2013 - Hunting Asteroids with Gary Hug

Casey Dreier • January 24, 2013

Gary Hug is an asteroid hunter. He scans the skies every night looking for new near-Earth objects and refining orbital measurements for existing ones. Join Casey Dreier and Dr. Bruce Betts as they interview Gary Hug about his work and his recent discovery of a new NEO on January 7th.

Introducing PlanetFour

Ganna (Anya) Portyankina • January 23, 2013

The Mars I study is really active; the surface constantly changes. We have collected a lot of image data about changing seasonal features near the south pole. There is so much that we can't analyze all of it on our own. We need your help, through a new Zooniverse project named PlanetFour.

Curiosity update, sol 157: Glenelg isn't just a test site anymore; it's a scientific "candy store"

Emily Lakdawalla • January 15, 2013

The Curiosity mission held a press briefing this morning for the first time since the American Geophysical Union meeting, and it was jam-packed with science. The biggest piece of news is this: it was worth it, scientifically, to go to Glenelg first, before heading to the mountain.

The raw data behind an Earth-like exoplanet

Jason Davis • January 11, 2013

Taking a closer look at KOI 172.02, a super-Earth exoplanet sitting in its solar system's habitable zone.

Report from AAS: Exoplanets (and exo-asteroids, and exo-comets) everywhere

Emily Lakdawalla • January 08, 2013

This year's American Astronomical Society meeting featured tons and tons of news on exoplanets. They're everywhere! And not just planets, but also asteroids, comets, and more....

Isostasy, gravity, and the Moon: an explainer of the first results of the GRAIL mission

Emily Lakdawalla • December 11, 2012

Last week the GRAIL mission published their first scientific results, and what they have found will send many geophysicists back to the drawing board to explain how the Moon formed and why it looks the way it does now. To explain how, I'm going to have to back way up, and explain the basic science behind gravity data.

Curiosity update, sol 117: Progress report from AGU

Emily Lakdawalla • December 05, 2012

Monday was the big Curiosity day at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. A morning press briefing was followed by an afternoon science session. I traveled to San Francisco briefly just to attend those two events. Here's my notes on the first science reports from the mission.

The Curiosity Kerfuffle: the big (and increasing) difference between data and discovery

Emily Lakdawalla • December 03, 2012

I'm in San Francisco, reporting from the American Geophysical Union meeting. This morning, there was a much-anticipated press briefing featuring the latest results from Curiosity.

Water ice and organics at Mercury's poles

Emily Lakdawalla • November 29, 2012

Water ice at Mercury's poles? That's crazy, right? The MESSENGER team has made a very good case that radar-bright material seen by the Arecibo telescope is, in fact, water ice, covered in most places by a veneer of dark organic material.

Free access to Springer journal PDFs through November 30!

Emily Lakdawalla • November 23, 2012

Springer has made online access to PDF copies of several of their journals free through November 30. One of them, Space Science Reviews, is the one that publishes the canonical papers on most spacecraft instruments. It's a bonanza!

Beautiful butterfly crater on Mars (another HiWish granted!)

Emily Lakdawalla • November 08, 2012

I asked Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to take a photo, and it turned out better than I had imagined: an incredibly fresh, well-preserved, dramatically rayed oblique impact crater.

Soliciting input for an idea on slides

Emily Lakdawalla • November 05, 2012

I'm directing a question at professional and amateur space scientists and educators: could I make slide sets that would help you educate the public about what's going on in planetary exploration?

Making an ugly rock beautiful

Emily Lakdawalla • November 02, 2012

Today I stumbled upon the Lunar and Planetary Institute's Lunar Sample Atlas, and was reminded of how much I love petrographic thin sections. They can make unassuming, cruddy looking rocks beautiful.

DPS 2012: Double occultation by Pluto and Charon

Emily Lakdawalla • October 26, 2012

A few talks at last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting discussed observations of a double occultation -- both Pluto and Charon passing in front of the same star.

DPS 2012: Future impact risks

Emily Lakdawalla • October 24, 2012

Continuing my writeup of notes from last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting: presentations on the risks of future asteroid impacts. How much risk do we face, and what are the appropriate actions to take in the face of that risk?

Oct. 24 Cosmoquest Astronomy Hour: Special DPS update

Emily Lakdawalla • October 23, 2012

Join me and Fraser Cain for a brief update on Curiosity and other exciting science presented at last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, and get your pressing space questions answered! The Google+ Hangout is on Wednesday, October 24, at 16:00 PDT / 23:00 UTC. Note: this one will end about 15 minutes early.

Book Review: Planetary Surface Processes, by H. Jay Melosh

Emily Lakdawalla • October 23, 2012

Planetary Surface Processes provides a rigorous overview of every process that shapes the appearance of planetary surfaces, and I'll be referring to it to help me explain everything from impact cratering to isostasy.

DPS 2012: The most detailed images of Uranus' atmosphere ever

Emily Lakdawalla • October 22, 2012

New ground-based images of Uranus show more finely detailed structure than any photos I have ever seen.

DPS 2012, Day 5: How to make asteroids crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle

Emily Lakdawalla • October 19, 2012

A summary of just one talk from the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, by Lindy Elkins-Tanton, which provided a neat explanation for how asteroids can be melted and layered on the inside yet have a primitive-looking exterior.

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