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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 …

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28 March 2009

LPSC: The Masursky Lecture

Every year at LPSC one of the big events is the Masursky lecture, given by that year’s winner of the Masursky prize recognizing “individuals who have rendered outstanding service to planetary science and exploration through engineering, managerial, programmatic, or public service activities”. This year’s winner was Alan Stern, and he gave a thought-provoking talk about everyone’s favorite subject: What is a Planet? The official title was “Planet Categorization and Planetary …

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25 February 2009

A Tidally Locked Earth

A while ago, I posted about an interesting abstract and poster at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference discussion the possibility that tidally locked exoplanets might still be habitable. Well, apparently the new Discovery series entitled “The World Without…” is doing an episode about what would happen if the Earth stopped rotating. One of their associate producers contacted me after reading my blog post about tidally locked exoplanets and asked …

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14 December 2008

Blogging from the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting

Tomorrow I’m heading to San Francisco along with 15,000 other scientists to participate in the 2008 fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Yes, you read that right: fifteen thousand scientists in one place.  This will be my first AGU and my first time in San Francisco so I’m excited. There’s tons of planetary science stuff scheduled, and I will be taking notes and blogging as much as possible …

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21 November 2008

Holst's 'The Planets'

A month or so ago, Cornell hosted a planetary science conference, and one of the big events associated with that was a performance of Holst’s famous symphony “The Planets”. For each movement, some of us in the astronomy department put together a slideshow to go with the music. The concert was totally awesome, and there is now a video and audio version available online! For me, firefox crashed when I …

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13 November 2008

Extrasolar Planets Imaged by Hubble and Gemini!

There was a big announcement today: the Hubble space telescope has taken an image of a planet orbiting the bright star Fomalhaut! And not only that, the Gemini telescope has taken an image of TWO planets orbiting the star HR8799! Phil Plait has a nice and very excited post about this over at bad astronomy. You can also go straight to the source and read the JPL press release.  I’ll …

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Tectonics on Mars

Mars is often touted as the “most earth-like” planet, but if you take a look at its surface there are some aspects that are decidedly alien. Sure, there are dry river beds and canyons and volcanoes. But there are also craters. Everywhere. So many that, when Mariner 9 sent back the first spacecraft images of Mars, people were dismayed to see a surface that looked just like the moon! Is …

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15 October 2008

DPS Posting Intermission

I wasn’t able to make it to many sessions today. I was helping to organize a “Women in Science” event at the local middle school, taking advantage of the fact that so many famous female scientists are in town. So unfortuantely that meant that I only caught a few talks today. Fortunately, the sessions are still available online, so I will be able to get caught up on what I …

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12 October 2008

DPS 2008 Day 2: Rings, Titan, Comets, Orbits

Today I didn’t go to most of the first round of presentations. They were about Titan’s upper atmosphere, asteroids, and the theory and dynamics of rings. Not really the stuff that gets me excited. I did catch the last talk in the rings session. It was showcasing a new program used to simulate ring particles, including the ability to make the particles stick together if they collide slowly. Apperntly some …

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11 October 2008

DPS 2008 Day One: Mars, Exoplanets, Defining Planets and Enceladus

Today was the first day of the Division for Planetary Sciences conference here at Cornell. All the talks are being live web-streamed, but since most of you probably don’t have time to sit and watch esoteric scientific talks online all weekend, here are the highlights from the sessions I saw today. In the morning, the first session that I went to was Mars Surface and Surface/Atmosphere Interactions. DPS is an …

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