Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.

Dunes on Tatooine

The fictional world Tatooine, scene of action in the Star Wars movies, is named after a town in Tunisia, where parts of the movies were filmed. The desert backdrops against which the movies were filmed are real terrestrial landscapes, which prove to be perhaps unexpectedly dynamic.

Favorite space images: "Many Worlds"

For this evening's Planetary Radio Live event, Mat Kaplan asked me to do a presentation of some favorite space images. I told him that picking favorite space images is like picking favorite children; it's not possible because they're all my favorite. To narrow things down, I decided to explore a theme:

One Ocean World Among Many

I'm absolutely floored when I stop to think that our beautiful blue ocean is only one of perhaps a half dozen or more oceans on other worlds in our solar system, and only one of probably millions (or more) oceans on other Earth-like planets in our galaxy. Oceans abound!

Where are the big Kuiper belt objects?

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.

Evaporites on Titan

Evaporites form on planetary surfaces when dissolved chemical solids precipitate out of saturated solution as their liquid solvent evaporates and, until recently, were known to exist only on Earth and Mars. This article from the IAG Planetary Geomorphology Working Group describes the third planetary instance of evaporite, discovered on Saturn's moon Titan.

Scale solar system presentation slide, version 2

Last month I posted a preliminary version of a slide I was working on for use in my public presentations, a slide that contains everything in the solar system bigger than 400 kilometers across, and invited comment. I've listened to all of your comments and corrections and come up with a second version.

Origins 2011 conference, part 1

The Origins 2011 conference, which took place last week in Montpellier, France, was dedicated to the origins of life and its occurrence in the universe. At this meeting, scientists from very different disciplines came together to share their ideas.

The scale of our solar system 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.

Are there more Titans than Earths in the Milky Way?

Might there be many Titan-like planets and moons, with atmospheres and liquid methane rain, rivers, and lakes, across the galaxy? It's an important question if you think that liquid methane environments could support alien life, because it turns out that Titan-like planets might be more common than Earth-like planets.

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