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Snapshots from Space

by Emily Lakdawalla

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Emily Lakdawalla

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Follow the thrilling adventures of planetary missions, past and present, and see the stunningly beautiful photos that they return from space!

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

Emily Lakdawalla • December 11, 2012 • 16

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 • 9

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.

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