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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!


15 December 2010

AGU 2010: Day 1 – Astrobiology, Volcanoes, and More!

Planetary highlights from Day 1 of the Fall 2010 AGU conference: astrobiology, explosive volcanism, planetary atmospheres and lots of methane!


6 March 2010

LPSC 2010 – Day 4: Mars Oceans, Titan Lakes, Astrobiology and Asteroids

Thursday started off with a couple of talks about the possibility of oceans on Mars. The first one, given by Gaetano DiAchille looked at possible locations of deltas all over Mars to try to figure out the water level of a past ocean. Deltas form when a river hits a standing body of water and drops its sediment, so they are a reliable marker of the water level. DiAchille found …


20 December 2009

AGU 2009: Day 3 – Astrobiology and Society

Wednesday was full of particularly interesting stuff: in between the Venus and moon talks there was also the Sagan lecture and an afternoon session about astrobiology and its implications in society. The Sagan lecture was given by Tori Hoehler, a scientist at NASA Ames. He discussed the fundamental thermodynamics behind life, and showed that even if alien life relies on completely different molecules, there are basic requirements, such as the …


21 April 2009

Cassini Questions Answered

I got a bunch of questions about the BigPicture feature on the Cassini extended mission from an “enthusiastic” commenter, with whom I happen to be related (Hi mom!), and I thought I would dedicate a post to answering them. 1. How does a Jovian equinox work? Start by reviewing how one on earth works. Well, the pictures are of Saturn, not Jupiter, but that doesn’t really matter since equinoxes work …


Big Picture: Cassini's Extended Mission

The Big Picture, the Boston Globe’s photojournalism blog, does it again! This week they have a spectacular set of images of Saturn and its sattellites from the Cassini extended mission. Well worth a look. I especially liked the images showing Saturn’s upper atmosphere acting like a lens, causing the rings to apparently bend as they approach the planet. Did you know that the Earth’s atmosphere does the same thing? Sunrise …


16 December 2008

AGU Day 1: Titan

I spent most of the morning in sessions on Titan, hearing the latest on everyone’s favorite methane shrouded moon. There were several talks looking at the first preliminary topography results and trying to draw some conclusions from them. According to Howard Zebker, Titan is more oblate than you would expect if it was just in its equilibrium shape, meaning its poles are lower in elevation than its equator. Oddly, the …