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DPS 2012, Day 5: How to make asteroids crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle

Emily Lakdawalla • October 19, 2012

A summary of just one talk from the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, by Lindy Elkins-Tanton, which provided a neat explanation for how asteroids can be melted and layered on the inside yet have a primitive-looking exterior.

DPS 2012, Monday: Icy moons and a four-star exoplanet

Emily Lakdawalla • October 15, 2012

In the first full day of the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, I listened to scientific sessions on icy worlds and on an exoplanet in a four-star system.

First science reports from Curiosity's APXS and ChemCam: Petrology on Jake Matijevic

Emily Lakdawalla • October 12, 2012

A Curiosity press briefing yesterday gave some of the first results from ChemCam and APXS on the rock "Jake Matijevic." It was a little too much petrology for most people; I do my best to explain.

Sturzstroms on Saturn's Moon Iapetus

Kelsi Singer • October 01, 2012

Long-runout landslides (sturzstroms) are found across the Solar System. They have been observed primarily on Earth and Mars, but also on Venus, and Jupiter’s moons Io and Callisto. I have just published a paper about sturzstroms on Iapetus.

Cosmoquest Science Hour, Wednesday: A virtual field trip to the hills on Curiosity's horizon

Emily Lakdawalla • September 25, 2012

I'm hosting this week's Cosmoquest Science Hour, and plan to take viewers on a virtual tour of those mountains on Curiosity's horizon, and show you where Curiosity is likely to go. Join me and Fraser Cain here at 1600 PDT / 2300 UTC Wednesday.

Fun For All Ages: Creating and Mapping a Volcano

Mike Malaska • August 18, 2012

Here’s a fun, cheap, and only slightly messy demonstration activity for kids of all ages, even 46-year-old kids: creating and mapping an ancient volcano.

Curiosity sol 11 update: Decision to drive to "the high thermal inertia unit" and what that means

Emily Lakdawalla • August 17, 2012

Some notes from this morning's Curiosity press briefing: the rover will be driving to "Glenelg" to investigate the "high thermal inertia unit." I explain what that means, with psychedelic Odyssey THEMIS images of the landing site.

A geochemist's Periodic Table of Elements

Emily Lakdawalla • June 25, 2012

The Periodic Table of Elements that hangs in chemistry classrooms doesn't include a lot of the information about elements that's most important to geologists. Here's one that does.

Rovers in the desert

Emily Lakdawalla • May 14, 2012

I took a field trip to watch scientists and engineers play in the sand with Mars rover models, and got a bonus tour of some evidence for the "Snowball Earth" hypothesis.

Notes from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference: Is there ice at Mercury's poles?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 22, 2012

Water ice at Mercury's poles? That's crazy, right? Mercury is so close to the Sun that it seems inconceivable that you could have water ice there. But Mercury's rotational axis has virtually no tilt (MESSENGER has measured its tilt to be less than 1 degree), so there are areas at Mercury's poles, most often (but not always) within polar craters, where the Sun never rises above the horizon to heat the surface.

Iapetus' peerless equatorial ridge

Emily Lakdawalla • February 22, 2012

A new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets by Dombard, Cheng, McKinnon, and KayI claims to explain how Iapetus' equatorial ridge formed. Cool!

Has Mars Express MARSIS data proved that Mars once had a northern ocean?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 07, 2012

There's been a bit of buzz on the Web this week regarding an ESA press release titled "ESA's Mars Express radar gives strong evidence for former Mars ocean." I don't ordinarily write about press-released science papers, but am making an exception for this one.

Six days in the crater (day one)

Pat Donohue • February 03, 2012

This is the first in a series of posts based on field notes and memories supplemented by background reading material from the Meteor Crater Field Camp that was held from October 17-23, 2010.

Evaporites on Titan

Emily Lakdawalla • January 12, 2012

Evaporites form on planetary surfaces when dissolved chemical solids precipitate out of saturated solution as their liquid solvent evaporates and, until recently, were known to exist only on Earth and Mars. This article from the IAG Planetary Geomorphology Working Group describes the third planetary instance of evaporite, discovered on Saturn's moon Titan.

Steno's principles and planetary geology

Emily Lakdawalla • January 11, 2012

The Google Doodle for January 11, 2012 celebrates Nicholas Steno, one of the founding fathers of modern geology, on the occasion of his 374th birthday. This article describes Steno's set of rules that guide geologists in reading rocks to tell the story of how a place came to be and how the rules are currently used in geology.

Is Europa's ice thin or thick? At chaos terrain, it's both!

Emily Lakdawalla • November 17, 2011

Among Europa scientists there are two warring factions: the thick-icers and the thin-icers. The question is how thick is the ice shell that overlies Europa's subsurface ocean (the existence of which pretty much everyone agrees on).

Notes from Day 5 of the EPSC/DPS meeting: Saturn's storm, Phobos, and Lutetia

Emily Lakdawalla • October 07, 2011

Today was (is) the last day of the Division of Planetary Sciences / European Planetary Science Congress meeting in Nantes, France.

Notes from Day 3 of the EPSC/DPS meeting (all about MESSENGER)

Emily Lakdawalla • October 05, 2011

Today I largely spent in the MESSENGER sessions. They have a lot of data to talk about.

Some first impressions of EPSC-DPS meeting

Emily Lakdawalla • October 03, 2011

Today they turned on the scientific fire hose at the Division of Planetary Sciences / European Planetary Science Congress meeting happening here in Nantes, France. My brain already feels full and I still have four more days!

Tethys and Dione don't seem to be active after all

Emily Lakdawalla • September 23, 2011

About four years ago I wrote a blog entry about an ESA press release about paper published in Nature that suggested that Saturn's moons Tethys and Dione might have volcanic activity, like Enceladus. A new paper published in Icarus casts doubt on that conclusion.

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