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Terra Cognita

Bill Dunford • July 29, 2013

Pushing back the frontier, and filling in the blank spaces on the map.

Return of the Pale Blue Dot

Mat Kaplan • July 18, 2013

You can be part of a planetwide group photo as Cassini and MESSENGER turn their cameras Earthward on July 19.

A New Dimension for Mercury

Bill Dunford • July 15, 2013

There's a cool new way to explore the first planet.

The Shores of the Kraken Sea: Great Place Names in the Solar System

Bill Dunford • May 28, 2013

Nothing reflects the romance of deep space exploration more than the evocative names of places on the planets and moons.

Dueling Desolations: Mercury vs. the Moon

Bill Dunford • May 13, 2013

They look so similar they can be hard to tell apart, but each hides its own mysteries.

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.

One Day in the Solar System

Bill Dunford • April 08, 2013

Dispatches from five different worlds--all sent by robotic spacecraft on the same day.

LPSC 2013: Seeing in Permanent Shadow

Michael Poston • April 03, 2013

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.

LPSC 2013: Do we have a meteorite from Mercury?

Emily Lakdawalla • March 21, 2013

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.

Messages of Wonder

Bill Dunford • March 18, 2013

Some lovely, rarely-seen images from the MESSENGER mission.

Isostasy, gravity, and the Moon: an explainer of the first results of the GRAIL mission

Emily Lakdawalla • December 11, 2012

Last week the GRAIL mission published their first scientific results, and what they have found will send many geophysicists back to the drawing board to explain how the Moon formed and why it looks the way it does now. To explain how, I'm going to have to back way up, and explain the basic science behind gravity data.

Water ice and organics at Mercury's poles

Emily Lakdawalla • November 29, 2012

Water ice at Mercury's poles? That's crazy, right? The MESSENGER team has made a very good case that radar-bright material seen by the Arecibo telescope is, in fact, water ice, covered in most places by a veneer of dark organic material.

MESSENGER Mission Update: First burn performed to lower extended mission altitude

Emily Lakdawalla • April 16, 2012

The MESSENGER mission just issued a press release announcing that they have completed the first step in the two-step process of lowering the spacecraft's orbit around Mercury.

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.

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.

Scale solar system presentation slide, a provisional version for you to review

Emily Lakdawalla • September 15, 2011

I'm preparing a talk for the Pacific Astronomy and Telescope Show here in Pasadena on Sunday afternoon at 1:45. I have spent the morning putting together a slide that I have long wanted to have for presentations.

Early MESSENGER science results: Mercury is its own planet, not Moon or Earth

Emily Lakdawalla • June 16, 2011

There was a press briefing today giving some early science results from MESSENGER and it was surprisingly meaty. I'm going to focus on just one set of the results that they presented.

Summer Sights of the Solar System

Ray Sanders • June 07, 2011

What can you expect to see if you look at the night sky this summer (2011)?

Memo to early risers: Look up!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 02, 2011

There is a traffic jam of planets on the eastern horizon in the early morning right now and for the next several weeks, a prize for those of you who have to rise before dawn.

The scale of our solar system

Emily Lakdawalla • May 02, 2011

Space.com has taken advantage of the infinitely scrollable nature of Web pages to produce a really cool infographic on the scales of orbital distances in the solar system.

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