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Planetary Sciences News Archive


Frozen beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars lies about as much water as what’s in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes, a team of scientists led by The University of Texas at Austin has determined using data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Scientists examined part of Mars’ Utopia Planitia region,…

A strangely shaped depression on Mars could be a new place to look for signs of life on the Red Planet, according to a University of Texas at Austin-led study. The depression was probably formed by a volcano beneath a glacier and could have been a warm, chemical-rich environment well suited for microbial life. The…

Scientists using radar data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have found a record of the most recent Martian ice age in the planet’s north polar ice cap. The new results, published in the May 27 issue of the journal Science, agree with previous models that indicate a glacial period ended about 400,000 years ago,…

  New research has found that wind carved massive mounds of more than a mile high on Mars over billions of years. Their location helps pin down when water on the Red Planet dried up during a global climate change event. The research was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the…

Astronomers, scientists and those who dream of space are all eagerly watching as a NASA spacecraft flies three billion miles from Earth near the edges of our solar system. When New Horizons reaches its closest approach to Pluto, one Longhorn will have particular cause to celebrate the historic accomplishment: Alan Stern, the mission’s leader. Stern,…

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…

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