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Favorite Astro Plots #4: Classifying Exoplanets

Posted by Jingjing Chen on 2016/04/15 08:04 CDT | 6 comments

Until just a few years ago, a plot of mass versus size of other worlds would have looked pretty sparse and uninformative. But thanks to the tireless efforts of exoplanet astronomers, we now know fairly precise masses and radii for hundreds of distant worlds.

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30th anniversary images of Uranian moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/02 01:06 CST | 6 comments

January 24 was the 30th anniversary of the Voyager flyby of Uranus. Uranian moons have been on my mind ever since New Horizons sent us close-up images of Charon. On the occasion of the anniversary, Ted Stryk produced latest-and-greatest versions of the Voyager views of these worlds.

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Planetary Exploration Timelines: A Look Ahead to 2016

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/31 04:04 CST | 19 comments

How many planetary exploration missions are there, and where are they? These days, it's hard to keep track, because there are so many. I plan to begin the new year by taking stock of active missions, figuring out what each has set out to do and accomplished so far, but first I want to step back to consider the spread of missions across the solar system as a whole.

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The round worlds in the solar system: An updated graphic

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/02 04:06 CST | 9 comments

I have a newly updated scale comparison graphic to share: all the round worlds in the solar system smaller than 10,000 kilometers in diameter, now with added Pluto, Charon, and Ceres.

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The solar system at 1 kilometer per pixel: Can you identify these worlds? The answers

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/30 10:00 CDT | 13 comments

Last Friday I posted an image containing 18 samples of terrain, all shown at the same scale. Were you able to figure out which square was which? Here are the answers.

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The solar system at 1 kilometer per pixel: Can you identify these worlds?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/25 02:27 CDT | 13 comments

A look at the surfaces of 18 worlds in our solar system, all at the same scale.

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Galileo's best pictures of Jupiter's ringmoons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/08/24 07:07 CDT | 4 comments

People often ask me to produce one of my scale-comparison montages featuring the small moons of the outer solar system. I'd love to do that, but Galileo's best images of Jupiter's ringmoons lack detail compared to Cassini's images from Saturn.

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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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Adding Churyumov-Gerasimenko to my scale comparison of comets and asteroids

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/13 05:47 CDT | 4 comments

Having found a color photo of the comet, I finally added Churyumov-Gerasimenko to my scale comparison of comets and asteroids visited by spacecraft.

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New Rosetta view of the comet - and a comparison to other comets

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/07/31 03:02 CDT | 8 comments

Rosetta's view of the comet is getting better and better. Today they released a new image from the high-resolution OSIRIS camera, and it's a very fresh one, taken only two days ago. Distinct features are coming into view. And it's finally detailed enough for me to compare it to the five other comets we've visited in the past.

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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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Intro Astronomy Class 6: Mars (continued) and Asteroids

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/14 06:10 CDT

Continue exploring Mars and learn about asteroids in this video of class 6 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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2015 will be the Year of the Dwarf Planet, and you need to tell people about it!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/05 07:00 CST | 11 comments

I am very excited about 2015, more so than I have been about any year since I started working at The Planetary Society. Dawn will enter orbit at Ceres, and New Horizons, which will fly past Pluto and Charon. But if we want this kind of exploration to continue, I'm challenging you, dear readers, to tell the world why such non-planetary worlds are compelling places to go exploring.

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New names for Pluto's little moons Kerberos and Styx; and a new moon for Neptune

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/15 01:37 CDT | 5 comments

Pluto's moons, formerly known as "P4" and "P5," are now named Kerberos and Styx; I thought I'd help place them into context with a little help from Cassini. Also, Neptune now has a 14th known moon.

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Scale comparisons of the solar system's major moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/10 06:05 CDT | 15 comments

A few presentation slides with pretty pictures, sized to scale, of the large moons of the solar system.

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My ever-popular asteroids-and-comets montage, now in color, with bonus Toutatis

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/18 04:26 CST | 9 comments

My collage of all the asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft is probably the single most popular image I have ever posted on this blog. I've now updated it to be in color and to include Toutatis.

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Cheat sheets for Vesta's craters and Dawn's Vesta timeline

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/19 01:38 CDT

I made myself a cheat sheet to many of Vesta's distinctive-looking craters, and also wrote down a list of the major dates in the timeline of Dawn's exploration of Vesta.

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This is how far human radio broadcasts have reached into the galaxy

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/24 05:26 CST | 3 comments

There is an ever-expanding bubble announcing Humanity's presence to anyone listening in the Milky Way.

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The Scale of the Universe, by Cary and Michael Huang

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/16 10:14 CST

Cary and Michael Huang present a basic "powers of ten" visualization starting at human scale from which you can scrub downward smaller than quarks or upward to the scale of the entire universe.

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Where are the big Kuiper belt objects?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/16 05:35 CST | 8 comments

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.

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