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10 October 2008

DPS Meeting Live Webstreaming!

Planetary astronomers from around the world have been flocking to Ithaca over the last day or so to participate in the 40th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences meeting here at Cornell. There will be tons of fascinating talks starting tomorrow morning and going until Wednesday. I’ll try to blog about the more interesting ones that I see, but in case you want to listen …


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6 October 2008

Planets as Art

I’m often struck by how beautiful landscapes are when seen from above, whether they are on Mars, Earth, or anywhere else. With the high-resolution images from HiRISE this is especially true; with such a close view, the scale and context can be lost, and the images become more akin to abstract textures. Here’s a great example: It’s a dune field inside a crater on mars, but it looks like rumpled …


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28 September 2008

Geology in Spaaaaace

It turns out that there is a geology blog carnival too called the Accretionary Wedge! Even better, this week’s theme is “Geology in Spaaaace“! So head on over to Good Schist for some excellent space-related geology posts!


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24 September 2008

Low-Gravity Volcanoes

During my series of posts about volcanoes last month, a reader emailed me and asked what the effect of lower gravity would be on martian volcanoes, and I thought it was such a good question that I decided to answer it here! Most of my answer is based on a (rather large) review paper by Wilson and Head that is available here. One of the first effects of low gravity …


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27 August 2008

What Makes Volcanoes Erupt?

The local newspaper here in Ithaca posts weekly science questions, with answers from experts at Cornell. I’ve answered a couple of questions about astronomy in the past, but that’ not why I’m mentioning it. I mention it because today’s question ties in nicely with my recent volcano – themed posts! So if you want to know why volcanoes erupt, check it out! Edit: It looks like the Ithaca journal link …


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25 August 2008

Hot Lava: Types of Lava

We’ve talked about how lava becomes molten, now let’s discuss how it behaves once it erupts. As liquid rock erupts from a volcanic vent it is glowing hot and can be very fluid. But, it cools rapidly, and as it does so it behaves more like rock and less like a liquid. Depending on the rate of eruption (among other things) there are two main types of lava flow: a’a …


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22 August 2008

Hot Lava: Where does it come from?

You’ve seen it in movies, documentaries, and photographs. Mario and other video game heroes have died countless terrible deaths falling into pits of the stuff, but how much do you really know about lava? Where does it come from? Well, volcanoes. And the lava in volcanoes comes from deep in the earth where everything is molten, right? Wrong! It’s true that as you go deeper into the earth, things heat …


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18 August 2008

Thoughts on the Planet Debate

You should all go check out Emily Lakdawalla’s post about the Great Planet Debate. I agree with everything she said, including how silly the debate can get, and especially the following bit about priorities in science education: I think the weakest argument I heard today was that Pluto should be a planet because if we redefine “planet” in such a way that there are now only eight of them, that …


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14 July 2008

Recipe for a Planet

So you have a big dinner party coming up, and you really want to impress your guests? Apple pie from scratch too difficult? (who has time to create the universe these days?) This recipe for a delicious Planet can be scaled to fit any crowd and the planet is as much a conversation piece as a culinary treat. Makes ~2-10 planets Serves: billions You will need: 1 Star (Population I …


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