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Blog Archive


Comet ISON Wrap Up
A Tail of Cat-Possums and the Undead

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/12/05 05:49 CST

Comet ISON captivated our world, and many of our world’s robotic emissaries for many months. But, alas, poor ISON is dead -- again. Here I wrap up our enthusiastic coverage of this multi-morphing zombie comet that tried to survive and re-survive as it came within one solar diameter of the Sun.

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Mars' chemical history: Phyllosian, Theiikian, Siderikian, oh my

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/05 01:08 CST | 4 comments

I'm returning to the deep dive into the literature that began with articles about lunar basins and then explored the geologic time scales of Earth, Moon, and Mars. Now it's time to catch up to the last decade of Mars research and learn what "phyllosian", "theiikian", and "siderikian" eras are.

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Comet ISON live blog

Posted by Emily LakdawallaBruce Betts on 2013/12/05 10:00 CST | 10 comments

Comet ISON reached perihelion at 18:25 UT (10:25 PT) on November 28. It's an event that's was watched around the world, accompanied by tons of commentary and streams of photos. We will update this blog entry periodically with links to all the resources that we hear of for following the comet's progress.

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Multiple views of comet ISON from solar-observing spacecraft

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/02 07:50 CST | 6 comments

When comet ISON passed through perihelion last week, solar observing spacecraft had a ringside view. Here are several animations of ISON's perilous passage from the SOHO and two STEREO spacecraft.

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Schrödinger's Comet

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/11/28 09:54 CST | 9 comments

After impressing us yesterday, comet ISON faded dramatically overnight, and left us with a comet with no apparent nucleus in the SOHO/LASCO C2 images. As the comet plunged through the solar atmosphere, and failed to put on a show in the SDO images, we understandably concluded that ISON had succumbed to its passage and died a fiery death. Except it didn't. Well, maybe...

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Comet ISON: Your Half-time Report

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/11/26 10:04 CST | 1 comments

I am heading out to Kitt Peak to join my fellow CIOC-ers Matthew and Casey for perihelion observations of Comet ISON, and I find myself having an early moment of reflection.

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ISON, Encke, Mercury, and Home

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/11/22 10:04 CST | 3 comments

Comet ISON has entered the field of view of the STEREO HI-1A camera, and, in an awesome animation, it joins a large cast of characters already present there.

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Imaging results from the Chang'e 2 Toutatis flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/11/21 01:23 CST | 3 comments

There is a paper in press at Icarus by Xiaoduan Zou and five coauthors that provides the first peer-reviewed publication I've seen on the results of the imaging experiment performed during the Chang'e 2 flyby of near-Earth asteroid (4179) Toutatis.

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ARTEMIS Mission Update

Posted by Jasper S. Halekas on 2013/11/14 12:27 CST

ARTEMIS is a mission that retasked two probes from the 5-spacecraft Heliophysics constellation THEMIS to study the interaction of the Moon with the space plasma environment.

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Video: Comet ISON: Super Bright or Super Lame?

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/11/12 02:47 CST | 2 comments

Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) was touted months ago by media as the possible comet of the century. Will it be that, or a cosmic dud? Find out the basics about the in this short video.

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Why does ISON look green?

Posted by Matthew Knight on 2013/10/29 12:23 CDT

You may have noticed that Comet ISON appears to have a green halo in some recent images, but in other images acquired at about the same time, it doesn’t. Thanks to the beautiful new spectrum posted earlier today by Christian Buil, it’s relatively easy to understand why.

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Noachian, Hesperian, and Amazonian, oh my! --Mars' Geologic Time Scale

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/25 04:32 CDT | 3 comments

The Martian Geologic Time Scale is a lot more complicated than the Moon's.

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Uranus Awaits

Posted by Geraint Jones on 2013/10/18 11:23 CDT | 3 comments

It’s been a long time since anyone paid Uranus a visit. The Uranus system is, however, fascinating, as evidenced by the wealth of topics covered by the diverse group of planetary scientists who gathered to discuss it last week at the Paris Observatory.

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DPS 2013: The fascination of tiny worlds

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/17 02:27 CDT | 7 comments

In which I summarize Joe Veverka's Kuiper Prize talk at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting: "Small is NOT Dull: Unravelling the Complexity of Surface Processes on Asteroids, Comets and Small Satellites."

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DPS 2013: Confusing Curiosity SAM results

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/15 03:47 CDT | 7 comments

What did I learn about Curiosity at last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting? There were a few talks, most of which concerned soil and atmsospheric chemistry. I can summarize their conclusions with one sentence: More data is needed.

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America's Pastime: Planetary Science
Planetary Radio brings the home team to playoff week

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/10/15 12:16 CDT

Apologies to baseball fans and others for the theme of this week's Planetary Radio preview, which has star player Emily Lakdawalla on deck.

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DPS 2013: Tidbits from Titan

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/09 05:19 CDT | 8 comments

I attended a few talks at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting today that concerned Titan's origin and interesting surface, and then one in the afternoon about the atmosphere.

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The "Starship Century" Beckons
Gregory and James Benford return to Planetary Radio

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/10/01 10:30 CDT

The Benford brothers provide inspiration and hard fact in their excellent new anthology about interstellar travel.

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Relative and absolute ages in the histories of Earth and the Moon: The Geologic Time Scale

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/30 03:04 CDT | 1 comments

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the basins of the Moon -- a result of a trip down a rabbit hole of book research. Here's the next step in that journey: the Geologic Time Scales of Earth and the Moon.

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Gravity assist

Posted by David Shortt on 2013/09/27 01:30 CDT | 19 comments

With the recent announcement by NASA that the 36 year-old spacecraft Voyager 1 has officially entered interstellar space at a distance from the sun about four times further than Neptune's orbit, and with Voyager 2 not far behind, it seems worthwhile to explore how humans managed to fling objects so far into space.

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