In 1964, Caltech astronomy professor Guido Münch and Jet Propulsion Laboratory space scientists Lewis Kaplan and Hyron Spinrad pushed the world's second-largest telescope to its limits and dashed—at least for the next few decades—any hopes of finding liquid water on Mars.
Fifteen years after its launch, the Cassini mission to Saturn continues to give us a close-up, long-term view of the ringed planet and its astonishingly diverse collection of moons. Here are some of the highlights so far.
Several hypotheses have been proposed to explan how clay minerals detected on the surface of Mars were formed. Now, publishing in the journal Nature Geoscience, a team of French and American scientists including Caltech's Bethany Ehlmann, has suggested a new possibility. The Los Angeles Times recently spoke to Ehlmann about the paper and its implications.
When Curiosity touched down safely on Mars on August 5, John Grotzinger, the mission's chief scientist and the Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology at Caltech, was given the "keys" to the car-sized rover. Since then, most of Curiosity's time has been taken up by a series of checkouts, but she has relayed hundreds of images back to Earth, giving the science team plenty to study and discuss.
The mood in von Karman Auditorium at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) late Sunday night was overwhelmingly, almost deliriously, celebratory. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, touched down safely on Mars at 10:32 p.m. PDT and minutes later relayed its first black-and-white thumbnail images back to Earth, showing one of its wheels firmly planted on Martian soil.
On Sunday, August 5, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, known as Curiosity, will make its dramatic descent onto Mars's surface. Once it lands, the rover will check its instruments to make sure everything's functioning properly—and then it will get right to work. Caltech's Ken Farley and Bethany Ehlmann will be among the 300 scientists working here on Earth, taking the information Curiosity sends home and trying to figure out what it all means.
After journeying more than 340 million miles over the course of eight months, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)—the most capable robotic mission ever sent to the Red Planet—is quickly approaching its destination. The spacecraft is scheduled to touch down on the evening of August 5. A feature-length story about this Mission to Mars appears in the Summer issue of E&S magazine.
In 1969, an exploding fireball tore through the sky over Mexico, scattering thousands of pieces of meteorite across the state of Chihuahua. More than 40 years later, the Allende meteorite is still serving the scientific community as a rich source of information about the early stages of our solar system's evolution. Recently, scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) discovered a new mineral embedded in the space rock—one they believe to be among the oldest minerals formed in the solar system.