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Planetary Sciences News Archive


Wired, Jun. 21, 2011 Featuring: Lorena Moscardelli

Recently, there’s been a fair amount of interest and excitement about whether or not there is actually water on the moon. And it’s true, water has been detected on the moon’s surface through remote sensing. However, researchers at the University of New Mexico, UCLA, University of Texas at Austin and Los Alamos National Laboratory, have…

Martian Icecap, Now in 3-D

Earth, Universe Today, May 26-27, 2010 Featuring: Jack Holt & Isaac Smith

Scientists have reconstructed the formation of two curious features in the northern ice cap of Mars—a chasm larger than the Grand Canyon and a series of spiral troughs—solving a pair of mysteries dating back four decades while finding new evidence of climate change on Mars. In a pair of papers to be published in the…

Cut the Clutter

Interpreting what’s below the surface of Mars is no easy task. There are many potential sources of noise in radar data received by the Shallow Subsurface Radar instrument onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The prime troublemaker is surface clutter, which occurs when some of the waves reflect from surface features off to the side of…

Separated at Birth

It turns out that the newly discovered deposits of water ice on Mars, called lobate debris aprons, are very similar to rock covered glaciers in Antarctica. In 2000, Jack Holt and Don Blankenship, also an ice sheet expert at the Institute, were in Antarctica testing a new radar developed by NASA as a prototype for…

Scientists reviewing images of the surface of Mars transmitted to Earth by the Viking orbiters in the 1970s were puzzled by mountains and cliffs surrounded by gently sloping deposits of rocky material. In some cases these deposits, called lobate aprons, extend tens of miles. For three decades, scientists have debated how these features formed and…

A Tradition of Training Astronauts

For more than half his life, Bill Muehlberger has trained astronauts. He started in 1964 when he took a group of Apollo astronauts to the Marathon Basin in West Texas for a geological field trip. Later, he was asked to be principal investigator for Apollo 16 and 17, the final two manned missions to the…

Fly Me to the Moon

Mark Helper looked out the windshield of his pressurized lunar rover at a gray otherworldly landscape that stretched in every direction as far as he could see. With time running short, he and his teammate drove on across the rubble strewn floor of a vast impact crater. They stopped and Helper used the vehicle’s robotic…

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