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Blog Archive


LPSC 2015: First results from Dawn at Ceres: provisional place names and possible plumes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/19 06:29 CDT | 6 comments

Three talks on Tuesday at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference concerned the first results from Dawn at Ceres. Chris Russell showed a map of "quads" with provisional names on Ceres, Andreas Nathues showed that Ceres' bright spot might be an area of plume-like activity, and Francesca Zambon showed color and temperature variations across the dwarf planet.

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How Do We Know When We Have Collected a Sample of Bennu?

Posted by Kevin Walsh on 2015/03/17 04:19 CDT | 1 comments

A huge amount of effort goes into deciding where to try to collect a sample on Bennu. There are roughly nine months to survey, map and model the asteroid to help make this decision.

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An internal ocean on Ganymede: Hooray for consistency with previous results!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/12 07:25 CDT | 8 comments

A newly published paper confirms a subsurface ocean at Ganymede. An ocean there was already suspected from its magnetic field and predicted by geophysics; new Hubble data confirms it, and even says it is in the same place we thought it was before. Such consistency is rare enough in planetary science to be worth celebration.

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Planet Formation and the Origin of Life

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/02/09 10:47 CST | 4 comments

To understand the possible distribution of life in the Universe it is important to study planet formation and evolution. These processes are recorded in the chemistry and mineralogy of asteroids and comets, and in the geology of ancient planetary surfaces in our Solar System.

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A second ringed centaur? Centaurs with rings could be common

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/01/27 12:43 CST | 2 comments

Chiron, which is both a centaur and a comet, may also have rings.

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At last! A slew of OSIRIS images shows fascinating landscapes on Rosetta's comet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/01/26 11:50 CST | 8 comments

The first results of the Rosetta mission are out in Science magazine. The publication of these papers means that the OSIRIS camera team has finally released a large quantity of closeup images of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken in August and September of last year. I explain most of them, with help from my notes from December's American Geophysical Union meeting.

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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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Curiosity results from AGU: Methane is there, and it's variable

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/12/30 04:21 CST | 6 comments

At the American Geophysical Union meeting, the Curiosity mission announced that an instrument had finally definitively detected methane in Mars' atmosphere. It exists at a low background level, but there was a spike to about ten times that, which lasted for a couple of months before disappearing. What that means is unclear.

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Random Space Fact Videos
Random Fun for the Holidays

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/12/19 04:24 CST | 2 comments

Enjoy Random Space Fact Videos this holiday season. Each is designed in to give you at least one space fact and one laugh in about one minute. Here are the videos and the background on the concept.

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Like A Bad Penny: Methane on Mars

Posted by Nicholas Heavens on 2014/12/16 04:07 CST | 5 comments

With the announcement of Curiosity's detection of methane on Mars, Nicholas Heavens gives us a guide to the history of methane detection on Mars, a discussion of its scientific significance, and a few things to consider when hearing about and asking about the detection.

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The YORP Effect and Bennu

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/12/11 05:48 CST

The YORP effect is a phenomenon that affects the rotation rate and pole orientation of an asteroid. YORP is an acronym that combines four scientist’s names: Yarkovsky, O’Keefe, Radzievskii, and Paddack.

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Join me in Washington, D.C. for a post-Thanksgiving Celebration of Planetary Exploration

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/11/26 11:54 CST

See Bill Nye, Europa scientist Kevin Hand, and Mars scientist Michael Meyer speak at a special event on Capitol Hill on December 2nd.

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The Science of “Bennu’s Journey”

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/11/25 06:17 CST

The OSIRIS-REx project released Bennu’s Journey, a movie describing one possible history of our target asteroid – Bennu. The animation is among the most highly detailed productions created by Goddard’s Conceptual Image Laboratory.

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Don't Miss This Great New Video About Europa

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/11/21 02:38 CST

JPL released a slick new video highlighting the significance of Europa, the moon of Jupiter with more liquid water than the Earth.

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Report from Darmstadt: Philae status and early Rosetta results from DPS

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/11 03:04 CST | 3 comments

I'm reporting live from the press room at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. There's little news on Philae yet except that its status is good. Meanwhile, Rosetta scientists presented their first early comet results at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Tucson, Arizona, which I watched from afar using Twitter.

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GSA 2014: The puzzle of Gale crater's basaltic sedimentary rocks

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/23 07:31 CDT | 15 comments

At the Geological Society of America conference this week, Curiosity scientists dug into the geology of Gale crater and shared puzzling results about the nature of the rocks that the rover has found there.

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Collaboration Between OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/10/20 10:35 CDT | 1 comments

The University of Arizona (UA) hosted representatives of the Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return mission to explore opportunities for collaboration with the OSIRIS-REx team.

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Video Introduction to Comet Siding Spring’s Near Miss at Mars

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/10/13 05:14 CDT

On October 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring will fly very close to Mars. Here’s a 5 minute video introduction to get you up to speed on this planetary near miss, and some suggestions on how to find out more now, during, and after the encounter.

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What did Dawn learn at Vesta?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/09 03:53 CDT | 12 comments

It's now been two years since Dawn wrapped up its work at the second-largest asteroid. What else did we get from the Vesta encounter besides great photos? Recently, I asked Dawn's deputy project scientist, Carol Raymond, for help in summarizing a few of the big things Dawn taught us.

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Two Eclipses in October

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/10/06 01:09 CDT

October 2014 brings big sky fun: a total lunar and partial solar eclipse, both visible from North America. The lunar eclipse will also be visible from most areas around the Pacific Ocean. Here is info on how to observe these eclipses.

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