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Why can Hubble get detailed views of distant galaxies but not of Pluto?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/02/14 12:37 CST | 15 comments

How come Hubble's pictures of galaxies billions of light years away are so beautifully detailed, yet the pictures of Pluto, which is so much closer, are just little blobs? I get asked this question, or variations of it, a lot. Here's an explainer.

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Planetary Society Hangout Thursday Feb 7th at 12:00 PST/20:00 UT: Snow and Ice on Mars with Paul Hayne

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/02/07 02:55 CST | 3 comments

Join us this week as we feature our guest, Dr. Paul Hayne from JPL. Dr. Hayne studies snow and ice on Mars, extreme temperatures of the Moon, and is on the Cassini science team. He also founded the group Young Scientists for Planetary Exploration to help organize early-career scientists to be aware of the politics of space.

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My Free Online College Intro Astronomy Class Starts Today
Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/02/06 02:03 CST | 5 comments

Bruce Betts is teaching online Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy at California State University Dominguez Hill again in 2013. You can watch live or archived.

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Guide to Asteroid 2012 DA14 Super Close Approach

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/02/04 01:46 CST | 17 comments

The 45 meter asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass closer to Earth than geostationary satellites on Feb. 15, 2013. Learn about the asteroid and what to expect from the close approach.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/01/24 01:28 CST | 2 comments

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."

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Planetary Society Hangout: Jan 24th, 2013 - Hunting Asteroids with Gary Hug
Thursday at noon PST/3pm EST/20:00 UT

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/01/24 12:00 CST

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.

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Introducing PlanetFour

Posted by Ganna (Anya) Portyankina on 2013/01/23 11:51 CST | 3 comments

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.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/01/15 05:30 CST | 5 comments

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.

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The raw data behind an Earth-like exoplanet

Posted by Jason Davis on 2013/01/11 03:29 CST | 14 comments

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

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/01/08 06:52 CST | 7 comments

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....

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/11 01:04 CST | 15 comments

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.

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Curiosity update, sol 117: Progress report from AGU

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/05 07:58 CST | 4 comments

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.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/03 03:12 CST | 17 comments

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.

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Water ice and organics at Mercury's poles

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/11/29 02:16 CST | 9 comments

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.

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Free access to Springer journal PDFs through November 30!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/11/23 11:52 CST | 10 comments

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!

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Beautiful butterfly crater on Mars (another HiWish granted!)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/11/08 07:16 CST | 6 comments

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.

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Soliciting input for an idea on slides

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/11/05 07:09 CST | 19 comments

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?

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Making an ugly rock beautiful

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/11/02 08:03 CDT | 1 comments

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.

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DPS 2012: Double occultation by Pluto and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/26 03:12 CDT | 5 comments

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.

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DPS 2012: Future impact risks

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/24 01:14 CDT | 7 comments

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?

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