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22 April 2011

New CO2 Reservoir Discovered on Mars

If you’ve followed Mars science for long, you know that the question of where the atmosphere went is a major one. Evidence points to liquid water on the surface of Mars, and that’s only possible if the atmospheric pressure is high enough and the surface temperature is warm enough. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere would increase both temperature and pressure, so a lot of scientists have been looking for carbonate rocks that might be trapping the CO2 that used to be in the atmosphere.

Well, this week a new article in Science reveals that there is a huge amount of CO2 trapped as dry ice near the South Pole!


19 March 2011

LPSC 2011: Day 2 – Cryospheres, Carbon, and Methane Skepticism

More on the cryosphere of Mars, along with some speculation about martian carbonates and skepticism about the presence of methane in the martian atmosphere.


16 December 2009

AGU 2009 – Day 1

For those not familiar with the conference, the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union is a terrifyingly, overwhelmingly large conference. Each year, something like 16,000 geoscientists descend on San Francisco to share their work. It is also one of the major planetary science conferences, so a lot of new results are first presented here. This year, the first talks that I checked out on Monday were about radar observations …


6 November 2009

Mars Art: Mind-blowing Swiss Cheese

First of all, a reminder to go vote on my article about MSL, which is a finalist in the science writing competition. Ok, done? Good. I wanted you to do that before I showed you this image because it may very well break your brain. This is a HiRISE image of the so-called “swiss cheese” terrain at the south pole of mars. The terrain is formed by the sublimation …


25 June 2009

Surreal-looking HiRISE Picture of the Day

I don’t have time to write a full post since I am busy trying to get a presentable outline of my PhD thesis prepared to show to my committee next week. So in the mean time, enjoy this beautiful and bizarre HiRISE image of defrosting terrain on Mars. Click the image or this link to go to the HiRISE page and see the full version.


28 March 2009

LPSC 2009: Day 2

Day 2 was all about ice in the mars sessions: the morning focused onĀ  the polar caps and the afternoon focused on the subsurface. I also managed to catch a few non-mars talks. One of the first talks I saw was by Ken Tanaka, famed for his geologic maps of Mars. He showed the results of his studies of the north polar cap, and identified at least two major hiatuses. …


28 February 2009

The MOC Book: Polar Processes

I’m falling behind on my blogging of the MOC “book”! We read a lot this week, so I will just stick to the highlights. In other words: mostly pictures, less text. This paper is really all about the pictures anyway! (if you’re just tuning in to the MOC series, check out posts 1,2,3 and 4) The Martian poles are extremely fascinating but extremely bizarre places. The polar caps are made …


10 November 2008

Mars Art Galleries!

Apparently I am not the only person who has had the idea of posting “artistic” images of Mars! In the past week I’ve come across two sites with collections of Mars Art images. So in lieu of posting my own image this week, I’ll point you to these sites who had the idea before me! First is a site by Jim Plaxco called simply the Mars Art Gallery. It has …


28 October 2008

Mars Art: Linear Dunes near the North Pole

I am starting a new thing. Every week, I will browse through data from current and past Mars missions and find an “artistic” image to post here. I’ll talk briefly about what the image says scientifically, but mostly this is about eye-candy and the crossover between science and art, which I have talked about before. Without further ado, here’s your first piece of “Mars Art”: This image is a HiRISE …


7 August 2008

Phoenix Update: Pondering Perchlorates

Since we last checked in on Phoenix, the team has had made remarkable progress in investigating the lander’s local environment. The team has: – Finished the mission-success panorama – Officially detected water ice in TEGA – Investigated the bizzarely clumpy and sticky nature of the landing site’s soil – Observed changes in the ice deposits under the lander – Continued to monitor the summer polar weather – Received a mission …


21 July 2008

Well-Traveled Granite

Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy has a nice post about the recent discovery of a piece of granite in Antarctica. You may be thinking: “Oh boy, a rock in Antarctica. What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that this specific piece of granite matches up with granite found in North America, and it means that the two continents were once attached, billions of years ago! Hooray for plate …


24 June 2008

Phoenix hilarity

My old thesis title: “Composition and morphology of aeolian deposits in the north polar region of Mars and implications for sediment transport.” My new thesis title: “Why the #$%#& are there polar bears at the north pole of Mars?”


5 June 2008

Phoenix's Neighborhood (Part I): The Basin

If you’re like us, you’ve been refreshing the Phoenix news page constantly, looking for the next update from Mars. If you need a little catching up on what’s going on in the mission, here are some recent posts with updates. But with all the Phoenix coverage, there hasn’t been much talk about the context for the Phoenix landing site. What’s so cool about the north pole of Mars? The north …