News articles tagged with "planetary_science"

04/03/2014 11:00:06
Kimm Fesenmaier
In 2005, NASA's Cassini spacecraft sent pictures back to Earth depicting an icy Saturnian moon spewing water vapor and ice from fractures, known as "tiger stripes," in its frozen surface. It was big news that tiny Enceladus—a mere 500 kilometers in diameter—was such an active place. Since then, scientists have hypothesized that a large reservoir of water lies beneath that icy surface, possibly fueling the plumes. Now, using gravity measurements collected by Cassini, scientists have confirmed that Enceladus does in fact harbor a large subsurface ocean near its south pole, beneath those tiger stripes.
05/09/2012 17:00:00
Katie Neith

Last year, images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured sand dunes and ripples moving across the surface of Mars—observations that challenged previously held beliefs that there was not a lot of movement on the red planet's surface. Now, technology developed by a team at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has allowed scientists to measure these activities for the very first time. 

04/19/2012 07:00:00
Katie Neith

An entirely new globe of the moon—the first in over 40 years—is now available, thanks, in part, to Caltech alumni. Using images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, a team at Sky & Telescope magazine, including senior contributing editor Kelly Beatty (BS '73), developed the updated model. 

03/06/2012 08:00:00
Marcus Woo

Many of us see a man in the moon—a human face smiling down at us from the lunar surface. The "face," of course, is just an illusion, shaped by the dark splotches of lunar maria (smooth plains formed from the lava of ancient volcanic eruptions). Like a loyal friend, the man is always there, constantly gazing at us as the moon revolves around Earth. But why did the moon settle into an orbit with the man facing Earth?

 

 

02/10/2012 08:00:00
Kimm Fesenmaier

With the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) well on its way to Mars, the newest members of its science team have been announced. Two Caltech professors—Kenneth Farley and Bethany Ehlmann—are among 18 researchers who have been selected as funded participating scientists on the mission.

01/04/2012 18:00:00
Marcus Woo

Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is an intriguing, alien world that's covered in a thick atmosphere with abundant methane. Titan boasts methane clouds and fog, as well as rainstorms and plentiful lakes of liquid methane. The origins of many of these features, however, remain puzzling to scientists. Now, Caltech researchers have developed a computer model of Titan's atmosphere and methane cycle that, for the first time, explains many of these phenomena in a relatively simple and coherent way.

12/02/2011 08:00:00
Marcus Woo

Discoveries of new planets just keep coming and coming. A team of astronomers led by scientists at Caltech have found 18 Jupiter-like planets in orbit around massive stars.

11/01/2011 07:00:00
Kimm Fesenmaier

The best place to look for signs of past life on Mars may be underground. According to a new interpretation of the distribution of clay minerals on Mars, warm water may have stayed mostly confined to the planet's subsurface for hundreds of millions of years.

10/20/2011 07:00:00
Marcus Woo

Astronomers have detected massive quantities of water in a planet-forming gas disk around a young star. The water—which is frozen in the icy outer regions of the disk—could fill Earth's oceans several thousand times over. The discovery could help explain how Earth got its oceans and suggests that our planet may not be the only watery world in the cosmos.

10/12/2011 07:00:00
Marcus Woo

Researchers at the Caltech have directly determined the surface temperature of early Mars for the first time, providing evidence that's consistent with a warmer and wetter Martian past.

09/14/2011 07:00:00
Katie Neith

After a successful lift off on Saturday, September 10, NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecrafts are headed toward the moon to study its gravity field. The two solar-paneled spacecrafts are expected to reach lunar orbit at the end of the year. 

 

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