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DPS 2012: Double occultation by Pluto and Charon

Emily Lakdawalla • October 26, 2012

A few talks at last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting discussed observations of a double occultation -- both Pluto and Charon passing in front of the same star.

A fifth moon for Pluto, and a possible hazard for New Horizons

Emily Lakdawalla • July 16, 2012

Pluto is now known to have at least five moons (Charon, Nix, Hydra, P4, and the newly discovered P5), and its burgeoning population might pose a risk to New Horizons during its flyby, three years from now.

Where are the big Kuiper belt objects?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 16, 2012

Earlier today I wrote a post about how to calculate the position of a body in space from its orbital elements. I'm trying to get a big-picture view of what's going on in trans-Neptunian space.

Visiting the San Diego SpaceUp Unconference

Mat Kaplan • February 14, 2012

Emily Lakdawalla and I drove down to the 3rd annual San Diego SpaceUp Unconference on February 4. We had great fun hanging out with the other space geeks.

Brief notes from Day 2 of the DPS-EPSC meeting

Emily Lakdawalla • October 04, 2011

It's been a very full day at the DPS-EPSC 2011 joint meeting. My day was less full than it might have been, because I overslept and missed most of the morning's session. I really needed the rest though so I think it was probably for the best!

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.

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.

A fourth moon for Pluto

Emily Lakdawalla • July 20, 2011

That's right: Hubble observations have yielded the discovery of a third small body orbiting Pluto and Charon.

South of the Border

Meg Schwamb • May 25, 2011

The last decade has seen an explosion in our understanding of the solar system with the discovery of the largest Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) of comparable size to Pluto.

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.

Pluto's atmosphere changes really fast!

Emily Lakdawalla • April 21, 2011

Pluto's atmosphere has been a subject of fascination for planetary astronomers since -- well, since astronomers first discovered that it had an atmosphere in the early '90s. The interest is partly because it's fascinating that such a distant and cold world is capable of supporting an atmosphere, and partly because the presence of the atmosphere confounds all attempts to measure Pluto's size precisely.

A Planetary Society Trifecta

Charlene Anderson • February 25, 2011

A Planetary Society trifecta -- that's what Neil Tyson calls this episode of his StarTalk radio show broadcast this week. His guests include the Society's Vice President, Heidi Hammel, and its Executive Director, Bill Nye, (along with the Society's friend, Steve Squyres, Principal Investigator for the Mars Exploration Rovers).

365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: What's in a Science Meeting?

Emily Lakdawalla • November 17, 2010

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, What's in a Science Meeting?, about what scientists do at big meetings like the Division of Planetary Sciences.

Eris might be smaller than Pluto after all (but it's still more massive)

Emily Lakdawalla • November 08, 2010

Several astronomers pointed their telescope at Eris to watch it pass in front of a background star. Occultations permit precise measurement of the diameters of distant, faint objects, and it turned out that Eris was much smaller than previously thought, so much so that its diameter may turn out to be the same as, or even smaller than, Pluto's.

DPS 2010: Pluto and Charon opposition surges, Nix and Hydra masses, Pluto and Eris compositions

Emily Lakdawalla • October 25, 2010

An awful lot of the talks in the Pluto session on Tuesday morning, October 5, at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting spent more time focusing on how bad weather conditions were during the astronomers' attempts to view Pluto as it occulted background stars than they did on any measurements or science that came out from the data.

Hubble turns 20

Emily Lakdawalla • April 23, 2010

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. It's hard to believe it's been going strong for so many years.

Programming Note: The Pluto Files

Emily Lakdawalla • March 02, 2010

This is just a brief note to advertise this evening's edition of NOVA on public television here in the U.S. The show is "The Pluto Files" and is hosted by former Planetary Society president Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

New maps of Pluto show pretty amazing amounts of surface change

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2010

I just posted my writeup of today's press briefing on a new map of Pluto produced from Hubble images. The main conclusion was that Pluto has shown an astonishing amount of changes across its surface between 1994 and 2002 -- more, in fact, than any other solid surface in the solar system.

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