Solar System

  • Red Rovers: Returning to Mars
    NASA will launch two rovers to Mars in the late spring of this year. In this, the first of two articles on potential landing sites, we will examine one of the leading candidates, Meridiani Planum.
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    In the final part of this series, the debate participants respond to questions posed by our readers. Such questions include: "Are nuclear detonations, such as those depicted in the movie 'Armageddon', the best way to divert asteroids?"
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  • Martian Liquid Center
    By watching the tidal pull on their orbitting Global Surveyor spacecraft, scientists have confirmed that Mars has a liquid iron core, much like Earth and Venus. Many astrobiologists conclude that such a molten and magnetic interior is critical to developing life.
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  • Jupiter’s Perfect Storms
    A spectacular photo album of 43 different Jovian storms reverses the 50-year old picture of Jupiter's belts and rotating zones. The new photos were captured by the Cassini spacecraft on its way to Saturn.
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  • Jupiter: Moon Festival
    Jupiter's mini solar system of now 48 satellites offers compelling insights into how the planets and moon formed, as well as supplying a mystery: How does Jupiter capture and hold on to its festival of moons?
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    How we could respond to the threat of an asteroid heading for Earth, and what sort of projects would best serve future NEO goals?
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  • A Meteor’s Protective Bubbles?
    To survive its fiery descent through a planet's atmosphere, hitching a ride inside a protective carbon bubble may have improved the survival chances of organic life if it came from interplanetary fragments.
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  • Long Journey’s End
    A pair of interplanetary workhorses were announced as retiring after long and valuable service. The two spacecrafts--Pioneer 10 and the Galileo mission--both far exceeded their initial plans and revealed spectacular close-up images of the outer solar system.
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  • Mars: Tilting towards Life?
    Where is the best place on Mars to look for evidence of life? At the poles, says one scientist. Although frozen solid today, in past eras, when Mars was more highly tilted, the poles were warm enough for liquid water to form.
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    The panelists discuss the search for near-Earth asteroids, and the damage that small impacts inflict compared to larger impacts.
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  • Neat! Comet Crossing
    Using tracking from automated telescopes, solar physicists captured the Sun's fiery greeting to a close-passing comet called NEAT. Initially thought to be a newly formed comet, NEAT turns out to have last visited the inner solar system 37,000 years ago.
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  • Evidence of Snow on Mars – and Perhaps an Abode for Life?
    Erosion patterns inside craters on Mars suggest a snowy cycle to water runoff. The Mars Odyssey team has proposed a new model that brings the prospect of liquid water closer to the surface.
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    The media and others place a great deal of emphasis on the threat of asteroid and comet impacts. Is that attention unwarranted?
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  • Martian Water, Water Everywhere…
    Using hydrogen to track down sub-surface water on Mars, Los Alamos scientists may have accounted for enough buried in the poles and soil to cover the entire planet ankle-deep.
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  • Hot Martian Heartbeats: Seasonal Valentine
    The Mars Orbital Camera captured these South Pole changes over a two year span, as entire hills and mesas reshaped and dry ice sublimed seasonally. The time-sequence shows the remarkable changing geography of a planet in flux-perhaps moving out of the last Martian Ice Age.
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