Planetary Science Short Course

The 7th annual Planetary Science Short Course will run August 29 to September 4 2016. Topics to be covered include origin of the solar system and planet formation; planetary interiors; planetary surfaces; astromaterials, planetary atmospheres; astrobiology, and exoplanets. Details on the course can be found here

New Animation for ExoMars Mission

The search for life on Mars continues. Joining the hunt is ESA's new ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander set to launch in late March from Kazakhstan. The mission is to try to find traces of methane in the planets atmosphere which could suggest biological or geological activity. Methane makes up less than 1% of Mars's atmosphere and the Trace Gas Orbiter is designed to investigate what this means and if this is evidence for life on Mars. Studies on Earth suggest that methane in the atomsphere disapates quickly meaning there must be an active source on Mars. Schiaparelli is meant primarily as a demonstration of the ESA's ability to deliver a lander successfully to Mars, but is also equiped with scientific instruments. This spacecraft will be arriving at Mars in October of this year, where the lander will seperate from the orbiter and being the mission. This is the first of two planned missions, with a rover and surface platform launching in 2018.

Read more!

ExoMars Animation

ExoMars Website

Real-time look at DSN

Nothing excites me more than seeing rocket launches, ISS operations, or any other space related activity live!

Luckly, NASA's Jet Propulsion Labouratory now has a website where you can watch spacecraft communicating with Earth via the Deep Space Network. These massive antenna are found in Califonia, Madrid, and Canberra (Australia) and communicate with interplanetary spacecraft.

The website shows a 3D representation of each dish, where it is pointing, and the spacecraft it is currently sending or recieving data from.

See it here

Is There A Planet X?

The idea of a preivously unobserved planet in our solar system beyond Pluto has existed for some time. These ideas are usually the product of conspiracy theorist, fantasy or science fiction. However, two astronomers from Caltech in Florida are now saying these theories may in fact be true! They have conducted computer simulations and other mathematical models to describe the strange movement of objects in the Kuiper Belt. The result is the potential for a planet the size of Uranis or Neptune beyond the orbit of Pluto. Such a planet would orbit the Sun every 10,000 to 20,000 years, while Pluto orbits the Sun every 248 years.

So far, the planet exists only in theory. No one has observed Planet X (or Planet 9), which is why Mike Brown, one of the astronomers behind the discovery, is urging scientist to search for in. "If Planet X is out there, we'll find it together. Or we'll determine an alternate explanation for the data weve received so far. Now let's go explore!" - Mike Brown.

Read more here!

Brown material on Europa's surface could be sea-salt

Research done at NASA led by Kevin Hand suggests that the dark features on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa could be sea-salt. The current theory is this salt was deposited there by recent geological activity and changed colour as Europa was blasted with radiation from Jupiter's strong magnetic field. Tests at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory with a set up nicknamed "Europa in a can" subjected multiple materials to electron beams similar to Jupiter's radiation that simulate centuries of exposure. When doing tests with sodium chloride (common salt), it gave off a similar spectra to the features on the surface of Europa. If there is sea-salt in Europa's hidden sea, it would be great evidence for life to exist there.

Read more from NASA


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Dwarf Planets
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Planetary Research

This category is intended for subjects such as general planetary research, analogue missions and technology development for use in the exploration of any planetary body.

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