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Blog Archive


IceBreaker: The Search for Life on Mars

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/09/08 09:19 CDT | 3 comments

The IceBreaker mission, proposed to NASA's Discovery program for low-cost missions, would seek out life on the northern plains of Mars.

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The not-planets

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 12:48 CDT | 37 comments

Now that I have a reasonable-resolution global color view of Pluto, I can drop it into one of my trademark scale image montages, to show you how it fits in with the rest of the similar-sized worlds in the solar system: the major moons and the biggest asteroids.

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A few gems from the latest Cassini image data release

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/24 06:30 CDT | 4 comments

I checked out the latest public image release from Cassini and found an awesome panorama across Saturn's rings, as well as some pretty views looking over Titan's north pole.

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Pretty Cassini pictures: animation of Iapetus' north pole, and other fun

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/04/03 04:35 CDT | 4 comments

Now that Cassini has returned to Saturn's equatorial plane, it has lots of opportunities to observe Saturn's moons. For about a week, Cassini has been taking regular sets of images of Iapetus, which I've assembled into an animation.

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Ceres Gets Real; Pluto Lurks

Posted by Paul Schenk on 2015/03/27 04:10 CDT

Although we are still along way from understanding this fascinating little body, Ceres is finally becoming a real planet with recognizable features! And that's kinda cool.

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Four Ideas to Bust the Floor on Outer Planet Mission Costs

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/03/26 08:25 CDT | 7 comments

The road to lower costs outer planet missions has been paved by NASA’s first two New Frontiers missions, the $700M New Horizons mission to Pluto and the $1.1B Juno mission to Jupiter. But can the cost of a mission to the outer solar system be cut to $450M, the limit for a Discovery mission?

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LPSC 2015: Aeolian Processes on Mars and Titan

Posted by Nathan Bridges on 2015/03/26 04:05 CDT

Planetary scientist Nathan Bridges reports on results from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference about the action of wind on the surfaces of Mars and Titan.

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At last, Ceres is a geological world

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/25 09:42 CST | 25 comments

I've been resisting all urges to speculate on what kinds of geological features are present on Ceres, until now. Finally, Dawn has gotten close enough that the pictures it has returned show geology: bright spots, flat-floored craters, and enigmatic grooves.

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Cassini begins a year of icy moon encounters with a flyby of Rhea

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/12 07:39 CST | 5 comments

At last! Cassini is orbiting in Saturn's ring plane again. I do enjoy the dramatic photographs of Saturn's open ring system that Cassini can get from an inclined orbit, and we won't be getting those again for another year. But with an orbit close to the ring plane, Cassini can repeatedly encounter Saturn's icy moons, and icy moon flybys are my favorite thing about the Cassini mission.

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Ceres Coming Into View

Posted by Paul Schenk on 2015/02/03 05:23 CST | 1 comments

Dawn is on approach to Ceres, the largest of the asteroids, and is starting to resolve features.

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Fountains of Water Vapor and Ice

Posted by Deepak Dhingra on 2015/01/22 11:22 CST | 2 comments

Deepak Dhingra shares some of the latest research on Enceladus' geysers presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco last month.

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45th Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium Report

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2014/09/23 12:15 CDT | 1 comments

The 45th Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium, usually focused on terrestrial studies, shifted this year to planetary science. Ted Stryk gives us an overview.

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Cassini's awesomeness fully funded through mission's dramatic end in 2017

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/03 07:54 CDT | 9 comments

Last year, rumors swirled that NASA may be so pinched for dollars that the agency might end the Cassini mission early. Today, Cassini received the welcome news that it has formally been funded through the planned end of its extended-extended mission in 2017. A huge congratulations to the Cassini mission!

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On the masses and motions of mini-moons: Pandora's not a "shepherd," but Prometheus still is

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/07/04 12:04 CDT | 4 comments

As Cassini celebrates 10 years at Saturn, we're beginning to see its long-term observations of Saturnian moons bear fruit. A surprising new result: While Prometheus exerts control over the F ring and Atlas, Pandora -- long thought to be a shepherd of the F ring -- does not.

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A close look at Saturn's closest moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/26 08:13 CDT | 1 comments

A new composite image of the eight named moons that orbit closest to Saturn, and a list of all the best Cassini observations of these moons.

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Of Rings and Resolution

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/06/23 09:36 CDT | 3 comments

Seeing Saturn before and after Cassini.

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Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 8: Icy Galilean Satellites, Saturn System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/04/11 02:28 CDT

Explore the icy moons of the Jupiter System and tour the Saturnian system in this video of class 8 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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LPSC 2014: Titan's Land of Lakes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/31 07:44 CDT | 2 comments

Report from a varied session on Titan's lakes at this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

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Snapshots of Science from the 2014 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/25 02:45 CDT | 2 comments

Vignettes from dozens of LPSC talks: GRAIL and LADEE at the Moon; ice and craters and conglomerates and organics and gullies on Mars; polar deposits and volatile elements on Mercury; tectonics on Enceladus; and more, until my brain was so full I could barely speak.

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Dancing With Saturn

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/03/24 09:30 CDT | 5 comments

Cassini images in motion.

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