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16 March 2011

LPSC 2011 – Day 1: Cryospheres and Making Moons

Greetings from Texas, loyal readers! As you may have noticed, this year’s Lunar and Planetary Science Conference came and went with barely a peep here on the blog. This is because, unlike some members of the planetary science community, I do need to sleep occasionally, and I spent almost all of my time at LPSC either in sessions or working on my never-ending paper. Yeah, remember the one that I …


20 December 2010

Solstice Eclipse!

Be afraid mortals, for today the heavens align and the moon turns red as blood!

No, really. Tonight is not only the northern winter solstice, when the northern nights are longest since we are tilted away from the sun, but there is also a lunar eclipse tonight! I like lunar eclipses a lot, first of all, because they are much more common and long-lived than solar eclipses, but more importantly, the moon turns red.


19 December 2010

AGU 2010 – Day 2: Shoemaker Lecture and Icy Moons

My massive summary of the Day 2 AGU planetary sciences talks, starting with the Shoemaker Lecture, and then covering Titan, Enceladus and other icy moons. Hydrocarbon volcanoes and icy geysers and hidden oceans, oh my!


1 December 2010

Phobos on the Limb

I love pictures of a planet’s limb (jargon for the horizon of a planet seen from space). In the typical overhead views of planets that we get most of the time, it’s easy to forget that we’re looking at another planet from outer space. On the other hand, when you can see the terrain stretching off into the distance, and the darkness of space above it, it somehow seems more …


29 July 2010

We Didn't Fake the Moon Landings

But I want to get one of those dramatic glowing tables!


2 May 2010

Carnival of Space 152

Welcome to The Martian Chronicles and the 152nd edition of the Carnival of Space! As always, we’ve got a great bunch of space-related posts from across the blogosphere, ranging from life on Mars to the age of the universe to Science Ninjas! I’ll get things started with a pair of posts from right here at The Martian Chronicles. A couple weeks ago I went on a cool geology field trip …


1 February 2010

NASA's New Budget

The internet has been a whirlwind of wailing and gnashing of teeth, interspersed with the occasional optimistic or guarded response, as space advocates respond to Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget request for NASA. In case you haven’t heard, the main points of the FY2011 budget are nicely summarized in this overview document: Increase of $6.0 billion over 5-years (FY 2011-15) compared to the FY 2010 Budget, for a total of …


20 December 2009

AGU 2009 – Day 3: Venus and the Moon

I’m splitting day 3 into two posts because there were so many interesting sessions. Stay tuned for the second post about astrobiology and society. But for now, Venus and the moon! I started the day off at the Venus session. One of the first talks I heard was by Cedric Gillman about the history of water on Venus. He suggested a very thick primordial H2O atmosphere with a surface pressure …


17 December 2009

AGU 2009 – Day 2

I started off day 2 of AGU at a couple of lunar talks showing off data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Unfortunately, I missed the early sessions about the high-res cameras, but the bright side was that I learned abount some instruments I was less familiar with. First was the Lunar Orbital Laser Altimeter – LOLA. A similar instrument on Mars Global Surveyor, MOLA, revolutionized our view of Mars. The …


25 November 2009

Lava Tubes on the Moon!

Ever wonder how astronauts on the moon are going to avoid deadly space radiation? One option is to live in caves, and luckily the Kaguya team has found one! Read more about it in my article over at Universe Today.


18 November 2009

Review: Earthlight

What happens when humans expand to the planets, but then the planets try to assert their independence? It’s a common science fiction storyline, and the central focus of Earthlight. Earthlight is one of Arthur C Clarke’s earlier novels, originating as a short story in 1941 and published as a novel in 1955. It is set at an astronomical observatory on the moon. There is war brewing between Earth and the …


15 November 2009

Crescent Earth, Water on the Moon, and Free Spirit!

Just a quick post to update you on the latest space news and remind you to keep voting for my article about how MSL is like James Bond. First of all, the Rosetta spacecraft, on its way to a rendezvous with a comet in 2014, swung by Earth the other day, and took some beautiful pictures: Second, NASA held a press conference on friday announcing that the LCROSS mission to …


5 November 2009

LCROSS preliminary results

Hey remember when we bombed the moon? Here’s an interesting article about some preliminary results from LCROSS. I was especially surprised when they said that there may be mercury at the impact site. They say they’re seeing spectral lines that could be produced by iron, magnesium or mercury, but then the article goes on as if mercury is the likeliest candidate! I’m skeptical. Fe and Mg are common in lunar …


29 October 2009

New Photos of Stuff on Other Worlds

I always make the mistake when on vacation of taking too many pictures of scenery and not enough pictures of people. Years down the road, the most interesting photos are not landscapes, but the ones that we can look at and say “I remember when we did that!”. And that’s why I think it’s great that we now have cameras around the Moon and Mars that can do the same. …


7 October 2009

To the Moon! Zoom, Bang!

As I write this, there is a NASA spacecraft on an unstoppable collision course with the moon. Early on Friday morning it will impact a crater near the moon’s south pole at 9000 km/hr, causing an explosion that will excavate 350 tons of lunar rocks, blasting them up into space and leaving a 66 foot-wide crater. Of course, this is all intentional. The LCROSS mission will use the upper stage …


27 September 2009

A Detailed Look at Water on the Moon

It looks like Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society blog has beat me to the punch! After the big announcement that three separate groups have found evidence of water on the moon, she dove in, read the papers and has a series of posts with all of the details of their findings. Well worth a read! Part 1: There’s Water on the Moon! Part 2: The Murkier Part of the …


24 September 2009

Water on the Moon

In case you haven’t heard yet, there is quite the buzz building about three separate results that indicate that there is water on the lunar surface. There isn’t much: moon rocks returned by Apollo are pretty darn dry, but it’s still an exciting result, and it means that future missions might be able to extract water for drinking and rocket fuel. I was especially surprised to hear that the water …


20 July 2009

NASA Then and Now

Forty years ago today, the world watched as Apollo 11 landed on the surface of the moon. All day today, I have been reading accounts from people who witnessed the landing. They have almost unanimously expressed the awe and wonder of seeing human being set foot upon the surface of another world. But another common thread is that of disappointment. The Apollo program achieved great things in its time, but …


Carnival of Space #112: Apollo's 40th Anniversary!

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing! I will have more to say about this later, but for now, let me direct you to this week’s Carnival of Space over at ‘Out of the Cradle’. There are also some great sites celebrating this anniversary, including: NASA (duh), “We Choose the Moon“, a very cool site that shows the events of the mission and lots of other …


17 July 2009

LRO Images of Apollo Landing Sites!

Just in time for the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team have released images of the Apollo landing sites. These pictures show the lower half of the Lunar Module (LM), the scientific instruments left on the surface, and even the tracks where the astronauts walked! Awesome. Of course, the moon hoax believers will not be convinced by this photographic evidence that humans have walked …