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Reading Itokawa's life history from microscopic samples

Emily Lakdawalla • September 20, 2011

When Hayabusa's sample return capsule was first opened and found to be very clean-looking inside, I doubted that there could be enough material for laboratory analysis. JAXA announced later that they scraped about 1500 dust grains from the inside with a teflon spatula, and these likely came from Itokawa.

New Horizons Day 2: Liquids on Pluto's surface?

Emily Lakdawalla • September 13, 2011

Jeff Moore's presentation was cool because of the discussion it stimulated. He considered what exogenic processes might be operating on Pluto's surface. What's an exogenic process? It's something that modifies the shape of the surface from the outside, and doesn't require the body to be geologically active inside.

New Horizons Day 2: Tectonic features on icy worlds

Emily Lakdawalla • September 09, 2011

The second day of the New Horizons Workshop on Icy Surface Processes was about geology and geophysics. This long post just covers the first talk of that day.

New Horizons workshop, day 1: Chemistry & climate on Pluto & other cold places

Emily Lakdawalla • August 30, 2011

Today and tomorrow I'm attending the New Horizons Workshop on Icy Surface Processes. The first day was all about the composition of the surface and atmosphere of Pluto, Charon, Triton, and other distant places.

Gale's not the only Martian crater with an "enigmatic mound"

Emily Lakdawalla • August 17, 2011

Much has been made of the "enigmatic mound" within Gale crater, which will be the target of the Curiosity Mars rover's investigations. The 5,000-meter-thick section rocks in Gale's central mound will be fascinating to study, but the fact that Gale has a central mound that's taller than its rim is not at all unusual on Mars.

Galileo's still producing discoveries: A magma ocean within Io!

Jason Perry • May 13, 2011

A fresh report was published online yesterday in Science Express on the discovery of a magma ocean beneath the surface of Io. Big news! This is a paper I've been looking forward to seeing for more than year and half.

Mercury's Weird Terrain

Emily Lakdawalla • April 19, 2011

When Mariner 10 flew past Mercury, it caught an immense impact basin lying half in and half out of sunlight, which they named Caloris. Even with only half the basin visible, scientists knew it was one of the largest in the solar system. Geologists had to wait more than 25 years to see the rest of Caloris, and when they did it turned out to be even bigger than they had thought. But the fact that Caloris was only half in sunlight was fortuitous in one sense, because it meant that the spot on Mercury that was exactly opposite the area of the Caloris impact was also partially in sunlight. That spot looks weird.

How much is Vesta's geology controlled by its one huge impact feature?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 07, 2011

Here's a neat paper just published in Geophysical Research Letters: "Mega-ejecta on asteroid Vesta." In it, Martin Jutzi and Erik Asphaug consider Vesta's shape -- which appears to be dominated by a very large impact crater centered at its south pole -- and ask how much of the great big asteroid Vesta's global appearance is likely to be dominated by the effects of that one large impact.

First view of Piton volcano, Reunion Island

Rosaly Lopes • October 03, 2010

There are about 60 volcanologists here at the meeting and we are wondering if the volcano is going to erupt and, if it does, what we will be able to see.

Gale Crater Geomorphology Paper - Published!

Ryan Anderson • September 16, 2010

Big news folks! The huge paper that I've been working on for the last couple years is finally, unbelievably, published!

The edge of "round": Three half-megameter moons

Emily Lakdawalla • August 18, 2010

Part of the definition of a planet is a solar system body's roundness.

Decoding a Titan crater

Emily Martin • August 16, 2010

In response to Emily's entry about finally getting her hands on a subscription to the planetary science journal Icarus, I thought I would report on an article from the most recent issue: Geology of the Selk crater region on Titan from Cassini VIMS observations, by Jason Soderblom and 11 other scientists.

Molar Tooth Texture

Ryan Anderson • August 12, 2010

Ok, so remember the weird rock I showed in my Galcier Park geology post?

The Geology of Glacier National Park: Part 1

Ryan Anderson • August 08, 2010

Well, the field trip is over and I am happy to say that I was not eaten by any bears. They seemed much more interested in the huckleberries.

The enigmatic mounds of Acidalia Planitia

Emily Lakdawalla • August 04, 2010

Acidalia Planitia is a large basin in Mars' northern lowlands, a dark splotch visible even from Earth telescopes.

Big Sky Country

Ryan Anderson • July 31, 2010

Well folks, I'm headed off to Big Sky Country tomorrow (aka Montana)! I'll start the week at the MSL camera team meeting, where I will get all sorts of cool news about the MastCam, MAHLI and MARDI cameras which I will not be able to share with you.

Volcanism across the solar system: Io

Emily Lakdawalla • July 20, 2010

Three months ago, grandiosely, I announced that I was going to survey volcanism across the solar system, and I began the journey on Earth. Then I failed to follow up.

Titan's rivers are square

Emily Lakdawalla • June 11, 2010

There's a new "planetary gromorphology image of the month" posted at the International Association of Geomorphologists' Planetary Geomorphology Working Group page, and it's a cool post about the shapes of the river networks on Titan.

Using Earth to Study the Moon

Emily Lakdawalla • May 26, 2010

Exploring Earth analogues of space landscapes is a valuable activity that can help planetary scientists correctly interpret what their instruments are telling them.

Morphology and mineralogy on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • May 05, 2010

A recent entry by Bethany Ehlmann from the blog of the Planetary Geomorphology Working Group of the International Association of Geomorphologists demonstrates how you can combine the power of different types of data to tease out a rich story of the past history of one spot on Mars.

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