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Probing Titan's Atmosphere

Sarah Hörst • August 26, 2013

By now I hope that everyone has seen some of the spectacular images of the Saturn system (and especially Titan!) from the Cassini-Huygens mission. However, the measurements that often make my heart race are taken by instruments that reveal Titan in ways that our eyes cannot see.

Updates on Curiosity from Ken Herkenhoff: Embarking for Mount Sharp (sols 326-372)

Ken Herkenhoff • August 23, 2013

United States Geological Survey scientist Ken Herkenhoff posts regular updates on the Curiosity science team's plans for the rover on Mars.

Caution: Spacecraft Under Construction

Mat Kaplan • August 20, 2013

Join Emily Lakdawalla and Mat Kaplan inside JPL's High Bay 1, where two Earth-revealing missions are being readied for launch.

Movie of Phobos and Deimos from Curiosity: super cool and scientifically useful

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2013

Yesterday, the Curiosity mission released the video whose potential I got so excited about a couple of weeks ago: the view, from Curiosity, of Phobos transiting Deimos in the Martian sky. In this post, Mark Lemmon answers a bunch of my questions about why they photograph Phobos and Deimos from rovers.

Pluto on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: Is there an ocean, or not?

Emily Lakdawalla • August 02, 2013

Does Pluto have an ocean under its ice? If it doesn't now, did it ever have one? How will we know?

Happy 32! Happy New Mars Year!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 31, 2013

They're too far apart to have a party, but today Curiosity and Opportunity could have rung in the New Mars Year. Today Mars reached a solar longitude of zero degrees and the Sun crossed Mars' equator, heralding the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere.

Pluto on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: A problem of cartography

Emily Lakdawalla • July 30, 2013

Last Thursday at the Pluto Science Conference there was a surprising and interesting talk by Amanda Zangari, who pointed out a serious problem with Pluto cartography.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • July 24, 2013

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

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

Emily Lakdawalla • July 18, 2013

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.

Stationkeeping in Mars orbit

Emily Lakdawalla • June 27, 2013

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.

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

Alessondra Springmann • June 24, 2013

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • May 17, 2013

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

Doing a science on Titan

Sarah Hörst • May 15, 2013

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

Planetary Society Hangout: A Day in the Life of the Opportunity Rover with Emily Dean

Casey Dreier • May 09, 2013

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • May 02, 2013

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • May 02, 2013

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

2011 HM102: A new companion for Neptune

Alex Parker • April 30, 2013

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.

An Amazing Evening for Planetary Defense

Mat Kaplan • April 23, 2013

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

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

Emily Lakdawalla • April 17, 2013

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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