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Blog Archive


Meeting today: The infelicitously named "SBAG"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/25 01:45 CDT

NASA funds regular meetings of scientists who work on different parts of the solar system to provide scientific input into NASA's future plans. These "analysis groups" are known by their acronyms, all of which sound kind of horrible, but none has quite as terrible-sounding an acronym as "SBAG," usually pronouced "ess-bag," the Small Bodies Assessment Group.

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Observing at the WIYN

Posted by Meg Schwamb on 2011/06/08 02:43 CDT

On May 5 and 6, I had a run on the WIYN (Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO) telescope, a 3.5 m telescope, the second largest telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona.

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South of the Border

Posted by Meg Schwamb on 2011/05/25 08:30 CDT

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.

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LPSC 2011: Day 1: Small bodies

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/08 12:28 CST

Here are some of the noteworthy items from the morning's session on "Small Bodies: A Traverse from NEOs to TNOs" and the afternoon's session on "Asteroid Geophysics and Processes: Surfaces and Interiors."

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Report from the 2011 New Horizons Science Team Meeting

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2011/01/24 01:01 CST

The annual New Horizons Science Team Meeting was held last week at NASA's Ames Research Center.

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Orcus and Vanth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/11 01:49 CST | 1 comments

As part of a big, ongoing project to make a comparison chart of the dimensions and physical properties of solar system objects I've spent the morning tackling the difficult problem of summarizing the physical characteristics of the biggest things that are out there beyond Neptune.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/17 10:39 CST

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.

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DPS 2010: Centaurs and Trans-Neptunian objects

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/11 09:13 CST

I attended all day Tuesday of the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting on October 5. The afternoon session on Tuesday was a grab bag about different small objects in the outermost solar system.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/08 04:48 CST

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.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/25 11:18 CDT

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.

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Quaoar: A rock in the Kuiper Belt

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/01 12:48 CDT

The paper I'm writing about today, "Quaoar: a Rock in the Kuiper Belt," is based upon seven sets of Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 observations of Quaoar and its recently-named moon, Weywot.

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New maps of Pluto show pretty amazing amounts of surface change

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/04 02:17 CST

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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Report #1 from the New Horizons Science Team Meeting

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2010/01/19 07:55 CST

The New Horizons science team is meeting this week. Ted Stryk was invited to attend the meeting, and he sent the following notes from the first day.

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Welcome to the Solar System, Makemake

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/07/15 09:45 CDT

The trans-Neptunian object formerly known as 2005 FY9 now has a name: "Makemake."

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LPSC: Thursday: Rovers, Titan, Mars, Venus Express, Neptune

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2008/03/14 03:49 CDT

I spent a large portion of the day at the Lunar and Planetary Institute's library and presented my own poster during the poster sessions, so my coverage of Thursday's sessions is limited.

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New Horizons is locked on target for its Jupiter encounter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/11/02 09:35 CST

Alan Stern just posted a detailed update on the status of New Horizons in his PI's Perspective blog on the mission website.

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(Almost) everything you ever wanted to know about New Horizons and Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/12/20 05:56 CST

I was browsing around the Web today looking for material to improve the information we have on our site about Pluto, and discovered that the New Horizons mission has just posted their launch press kit.

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An official pronouncement may be coming about the "what is a planet?" debate

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/09/21 02:28 CDT

Since the discovery of 2003 UB313, larger than Pluto, there's been a lively debate going on in many places about what makes a planet. There's now an article in Nature talking about a proposal that would address the controversy

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Pluto: The Discovery of a Planet

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2005/02/18 11:00 CST

To mark the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the planet Pluto, The Planetary Society presents to its readers the remarkable story of the discovery.

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