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LPSC 2014: Titan's Land of Lakes

Emily Lakdawalla • March 31, 2014

Report from a varied session on Titan's lakes at this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

A Centaur’s shadow reveals bright rings

Alex Parker • March 27, 2014

Yesterday, a team of astronomers announced that they discovered a set of planet-like rings around Chariklo, an asteroid-like body that currently resides in the unstable region between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus.

A second Sedna! What does it mean?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 26, 2014

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.

LPSC 2014: Water on...Vesta?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 21, 2014

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.

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

Bruce Betts • March 21, 2014

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.

LPSC 2014: Plate tectonics on another world: Europa

Emily Lakdawalla • March 19, 2014

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.

Titan's lakes: The basics

Emily Lakdawalla • March 15, 2014

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.

Intro Astronomy Class 5: Venus (continued) and Mars

Bruce Betts • March 06, 2014

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

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

Bruce Betts • February 28, 2014

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.

Pretty pictures of terraced craters on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • February 27, 2014

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?

Intro Astronomy Class 3: Telescopes, the Moon

Bruce Betts • February 21, 2014

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.

Sand Waves in the Desert

Lori Fenton • February 21, 2014

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?

Predicting Pluto's moons and moondust

Emily Lakdawalla • February 19, 2014

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

Intro Astronomy Class 2: How We Explore Space

Bruce Betts • February 18, 2014

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.

What are Mercury's hollows?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 18, 2014

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.

Intro Astronomy Class 1: Tour of the Solar System

Bruce Betts • February 11, 2014

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

The New Cosmos Has a New Trailer

Casey Dreier • January 30, 2014

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

How to get a satellite to geostationary orbit

Jason Davis • January 17, 2014

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

Polar vortices across the solar system

Emily Lakdawalla • January 09, 2014

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • January 08, 2014

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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