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Planetary Sciences News Archive


When a NASA spacecraft sets off to explore Jupiter’s icy moon Europa to look for the ingredients of life, radar equipment designed to pierce the ice of Antarctica will be among the passengers. Ice-penetrating radar technology developed by The University of Texas at Austin Institute for Geophysics (UTIG), a research unit of the Jackson School…

Life on Mars

Gary Kocurek, professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the Jackson School of Geosciences, was part of the team that reported two new findings from the Mars Curiosity rover: an ancient lake could have sustained life on the red planet and sediments at Gale Crater are similar to deposits found elsewhere on Mars. NASA’s…

Looking for Life

In a finding relevant to the search for life in our solar system, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research showed that the subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa may have deep currents and circulation patterns with…

AUSTIN, Texas — In a finding of relevance to the search for life in our solar system, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research have shown that the subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa may have deep…

Scientists using instruments on the Mars rover Curiosity have determined that a deposit of wind-blown sand and dust in Gale Crater is chemically and mineralogically similar to deposits previously analyzed by the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity at two other sites on the red planet. Sediments in all three locations were produced by the…

SciGuy Blog (Houston Chronicle), August 7, 2013 & Austin American-Statesman, September 8, 2013 Featuring: Don Blankenship For the first time scientists have done a complete study of a possible Europa lander mission. The work will be reported in the journal Astrobiology. I had the opportunity to speak with Don Blankenship, a University of Texas geophysicist who is…

Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics helped develop a blueprint for a possible future NASA lander mission to Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter that has a global ocean covered by an ice shell. Europa’s large reservoir of liquid water has long enchanted planetary scientists with the possibility of harboring…

Recap: “Hasta La Vesta” Online Event

On September 8, 2012, NASA’s Dawn mission held Hasta La Vesta, a celebration of the successful exploration of giant asteroid Vesta. As part of the event, Dawn mission scientists and engineers shared mission stories and answered questions in a live, interactive Google+ Hangout video event moderated by Dawn science team liaison, Dr. Britney Schmidt, research…

The European Space Agency recently announced that it will send a space probe to Jupiter and its large icy moons Callisto, Ganymede and Europa. Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, including Don Blankenship, senior research scientist, are part of the science team designing and operating a radar instrument for the…

Lecture Recap: The Latest on Martian Ice

by Thomas Minor Jack Holt, research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics (UTIG), is currently researching Amazonian ice deposits on Mars, both at the polar caps and at the middle latitudes. Holt offered an update on his research in the Nov. 22, 2011 UTIG weekly seminar, “A New View of Ice on Mars: Viscous Fluid,…

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