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A second Sedna! What does it mean?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/26 04:28 CDT | 9 comments

2012 VP113 is a new world that has been discovered on a Sedna-like orbit. What does that mean? It could imply the existence of a planet X, but doesn't prove it. It does suggest that a lot more Sednas are waiting to be discovered.

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LPSC 2014: Water on...Vesta?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/21 04:03 CDT | 3 comments

At the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Jennifer Scully discussed possible water-carved gullies in an unusual location: within craters on Vesta. Water-carved gullies on Mars I can accept; but on an airless lumpy body? I was intrigued.

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Intro Astronomy Class 7: Near Earth Asteroids and the Jupiter System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/21 02:10 CDT

Examine the threat of near Earth asteroids and begin exploring the Jupiter System in this video of class 7 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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LPSC 2014: Plate tectonics on another world: Europa

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/19 01:28 CDT | 7 comments

Simon Kattenhorn and Louise Prockter may finally have found subduction zones on Europa, which would it the only other place in the solar system besides Earth that is known to have active plate tectonics.

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Titan's lakes: The basics

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/15 10:30 CDT | 7 comments

Since Seth MacFarlane tweeted that this weekend's episode of Cosmos was going to include a segment on lakes on Titan, I thought I'd write a post explaining the basics of Titan lakes.

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Intro Astronomy Class 5: Venus (continued) and Mars

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/06 10:49 CST

Continue exploring Venus and begin looking at Mars in this video of class 5 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Intro Astronomy Class 4: Eclipses, Mercury, Venus-Earth-Mars Atmospheres, Venus

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/28 01:30 CST

This video of class 4 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class discusses eclipses, Mercury, Venus, and a comparison of the atmospheres of Venus, Earth, and Mars.

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Pretty pictures of terraced craters on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/27 10:16 CST | 3 comments

Check out this unusual crater on Mars. It's not a very big one, less than 500 meters in diameter, and yet it has two rings. Most craters on Mars this size are simple bowl shapes. What's going on here?

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Intro Astronomy Class 3: Telescopes, the Moon

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/21 04:35 CST

Explore optical, radio, and space telescopes and the Moon in the video of class 3 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Sand Waves in the Desert
or “Pet Peeves and Deciphering Climate Change in the Solar System”

Posted by Lori Fenton on 2014/02/21 03:19 CST | 1 comment

I have a pet peeve: the words dune and ripple are often used interchangeably, although they are quite distinct from one another. So what’s the difference between aeolian dunes and ripples? And why should anybody care?

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Predicting Pluto's moons and moondust

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/19 01:39 CST | 2 comments

Why didn't we discover Pluto's moons until more than a decade after Hubble launched? Mark Showalter helps me answer this question.

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Intro Astronomy Class 2: How We Explore Space
Easy Things to See in the Night Sky, and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/18 05:50 CST

Learn easy things to look for in the night sky, and about the electromagnetic spectrum from gamma rays to radio waves in the video of class 2 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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What are Mercury's hollows?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/18 09:33 CST | 10 comments

I've been fascinated by Mercury's hollows ever since MESSENGER discovered them. Two recent papers look at where they are found to try to figure out how they form.

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Intro Astronomy Class 1: Tour of the Solar System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/11 05:53 CST | 1 comment

Take a tour of the Solar System in the video of class 1 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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The New Cosmos Has a New Trailer

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/01/30 01:14 CST | 4 comments

Fox just released a new trailer for Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, which will debut March 9th and feature Neil deGrasse Tyson as host.

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How to get a satellite to geostationary orbit

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/01/17 09:24 CST | 8 comments

Mike Loucks helps provide a beginner's walk-through of the orbital mechanics behind geosynchronous and geostationary satellites.

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Polar vortices across the solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/09 11:49 CST | 2 comments

Earth's polar vortex has been in the American news all week. But we're not the only planet that has one; basically every world that has an atmosphere has a polar vortex. Here are lots of pretty pictures and animations of polar vortices.

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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Diviner maps geologic context of Chang'e 3 landing site

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/08 01:53 CST | 1 comment

The LRO Diviner Lunar Radiometer has been mapping the entire Moon on a nearly continuous basis since July, 2009. The Diviner team has produced maps of the thermal behavior and and a range of derived quantities at Chang’e 3 landing site that are described in this post.

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Planetary Radio: NEOWISE PI Amy Mainzer
NEOWISE has reawakened to discover more asteroids and comets. The mission leader thanks the amateur astronomers who follow up.

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2014/01/01 12:56 CST | 1 comment

NEOWISE has reawakened to discover many more asteroids and comets. The mission leader thanks the amateur astronomers who follow up on these discoveries.

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Habitability, Taphonomy, and Curiosity's Hunt for Organic Carbon

Posted by John Grotzinger on 2013/12/21 08:47 CST | 4 comments

Lots of people ask questions about how the Curiosity mission, and future missions, will forge ahead to begin with looking for evidence of past life on Mars. There is nothing simple or straightforward about looking for life.

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