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Blog Archive


Pluto on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: Small moons, dust, surfaces, interiors

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/24 09:04 CDT | 5 comments

My roundup from notes on the day's presentations on dust in the Pluto system and the surfaces and interiors of Pluto and Charon.

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Planetary Geomorphology Image of the Month: Water tracks on Earth and Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/18 09:57 CDT | 3 comments

The International Association of Geomorphologists' "planetary geomorphology image of the month," contributed by Joe Levy, features water tracks on Earth and compares them to recurring slope lineae on Mars.

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Stationkeeping in Mars orbit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/06/27 10:55 CDT | 10 comments

It had never occurred to me to think about geostationary satellites in Mars orbit before reading a new paper by Juan Silva and Pilar Romero. The paper shows that it takes a lot more work to maintain a stationary orbit at an arbitrary longitude at Mars than it does at Earth.

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How radar really works: The steps involved before getting an image

Posted by Alessondra Springmann on 2013/06/24 02:10 CDT | 3 comments

Arecibo Observatory is known for its 1000-foot diameter telescope and its appearances in Goldeneye and Contact. Aside from battling Bond villains and driving red diesel Jeeps around the telescope (grousing at the site director about the funding status of projects is optional), several hundred hours a year of telescope time at Arecibo go toward radar studies of asteroids.

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A serendipitous observation of tiny rocks in Jupiter's orbit by Galileo

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/05/17 09:54 CDT | 3 comments

A look at an older paper describing Galileo's possible sighting of individual ring particles orbiting Jupiter as companions to its inner moon Amalthea.

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Doing a science on Titan

Posted by Sarah Hörst on 2013/05/15 11:55 CDT | 12 comments

A tale from the scientific trenches: laboratory work to simulate Titan's rich atmosphere.

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Planetary Society Hangout: A Day in the Life of the Opportunity Rover with Emily Dean
Thursday, May 9, at noon PDT/1900h UTC

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/05/09 02:20 CDT | 1 comments

Thursday, May 9th, at noon PDT/3pm EDT/1900h UTC, we are joined by Emily Dean, who works on the camera team for the Opportunity rover on Mars.

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Planetary Society Weekly Hangout (Special Time): MESSENGER at Mercury with Larry Nittler, Fri May 3 5pm PDT / midnight UTC

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/05/02 07:00 CDT | 2 comments

Note the special time! In this week's Planetary Society hangout at 5pm PDT / midnight UTC, I'll talk with MESSENGER deputy principal investigator Larry Nittler about what MESSENGER has accomplished in its prime and extended missions at Mercury, and what it stands to do if awarded a mission extension.

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Pluto's seasons and what New Horizons may find when it passes by

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/05/02 03:42 CDT | 5 comments

New Horizons might see a Pluto with a northern polar cap, a southern polar cap, or both caps, according to work by Leslie Young.

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2011 HM102: A new companion for Neptune

Posted by Alex Parker on 2013/04/30 04:20 CDT | 2 comments

This month my latest paper made it to print in the Astronomical Journal. It's a short piece that describes a serendipitous discovery that my collaborators and I made while searching for a distant Kuiper Belt Object for the New Horizons spacecraft to visit after its 2015 Pluto flyby.

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An Amazing Evening for Planetary Defense
Join us via Planetary Radio and complete video coverage.

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/04/23 07:12 CDT | 1 comments

Bill Nye, Bruce Betts, Mat Kaplan, Meteorite Man Geoffrey Notkin and stars of planetary science at the Planetary Defense Conference public event in Flagstaff.

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Tides of light and ice: Water and rock made from snowmelt on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/04/17 01:29 CDT | 4 comments

A recently published paper proposes that much of the sedimentary rock on Mars formed during rare, brief periods of very slight wetness under melting snow.

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Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: Programming in the Sciences
Thursday, Apr 4th at noon PDT/1900 UTC

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/04/03 02:30 CDT

Thursday, Apr 4th at noon PDT/1900 UTC we continue our weekly Live Hangouts. Join us this week with Chase Million, founder of Million Concepts, a company devoted to providing high-quality code to scientists.

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LPSC 2013: Seeing in Permanent Shadow

Posted by Michael Poston on 2013/04/03 01:21 CDT | 1 comments

The case for water ice hidden in permanently shadowed regions at the north pole of the planet Mercury received another boost recently. On Wednesday March 20, 2013 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Nancy Chabot presented the very first visible-light images of what is in the shadows of these polar craters.

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LPSC 2013: watery Martian minerals

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/28 12:26 CDT | 3 comments

Some interesting results from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference on clay minerals on Mars and what they might mean about ancient water.

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LPSC 2013: License to Chill (or, the solar system's icy moons)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/27 11:52 CDT

Reports from the March 19 session at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference covering eight icy moons in the outer solar system: Ganymede, Europa, Dione, Rhea, Mimas, Tethys, Enceladus, and Miranda.

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LPSC 2013: The Smaller They Are, The Better They Shake

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/25 08:04 CDT | 1 comments

Really cool movies from Jim Richardson propose to explain how the same physics of impact cratering can produce such differently-appearing surfaces as those of the Moon, large asteroids like Eros, and teeny ones like Itokawa.

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LPSC 2013: Do we have a meteorite from Mercury?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/21 06:14 CDT | 7 comments

Before yesterday, my answer to this question would be "no." Now my answer is "probably." But it's not clear if we know which of the meteorites in our collections is from the innermost planet.

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LPSC 2013: Sedimentary stratigraphy with Curiosity and Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/20 04:19 CDT | 4 comments

A mind-boggling quantity of information is being presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. In my first report from the meeting, I try to make sense of the Curiosity and Opportunity sessions.

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