• Titan Weather: Cloudy Every 15 Years

    There is only one moon in our solar system that has clouds, Saturn’s giant moon Titan. First discovered by a scientist using an earthbound telescope, the clouds were later confirmed by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, recently gave a public lecture, sponsored by the Planetary Society, about what scientists have learned about Titan from the Cassini-Huygens mission. In this, the second part in a four-part series, McKay talks about Titan’s mysterious clouds, some of which are thought to appear only briefly every 15 years.

  • Comet Cookbook

    Now, astronomers using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Deep Impact have analyzed that soup and begun to come up with a recipe for what makes planets, comets and other bodies in our solar system.

  • Proof of Life?

    Conrad gave a lecture entitled, “A Bipolar Year: What We Can Learn About Looking for Life on Other Planets by Working in Cold Deserts.” In part 2 of this edited transcript, Conrad describes how her work in cold deserts could aid the search for alien life.

  • Deciphering Mars: The Current Decade

    At the recent Earth System Processes II conference, Farmer gave a talk on the current state of understanding about Mars: what we know and what we’d like to know. In this, the second of a three-part series, he discusses what scientists have learned from recent NASA and ESA missions to the red planet.

  • Expectations for a Final Theory?

    Astrobiology Magazine caught up with Rees as he ponders the effect of interplanetary travel on human evolution, the origin of life on Earth, and the limits of human intelligence.

  • Titan: Greenhouse and Anti-greenhouse

    Recently, Chris McKay, a planetary research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, gave a public lecture, sponsored by the Planetary Society, in which he talked about the scientific results of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan. In this, the third in a four-part series, McKay explains why Titan’s greenhouse effect is unique and how its anti-greenhouse effect works.

  • Proving the Case

    On Earth, methane is mostly produced by life. The recent detection of methane on Mars therefore has led to much speculation about the possibility for life on the Red Planet. The strategies that may resolve this issue are revealed in the final part of this series on martian methane.

  • Earth Bends Messenger

    This week’s Earth flyby is the first of a number of critical mission milestones during MESSENGER’s circuitous journey toward Mercury orbit insertion. MESSENGER will conduct the first orbital study of Mercury, the least explored of the terrestrial planets that include Venus, Earth and Mars.

  • MRO Lifts Off Into Space

    The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) launched this morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will take seven months to reach Mars, arriving at the planet in March 2006.

  • Tulips on the Moon

    In this essay, Bernard Foing ponders what steps will need to be taken to establish future human bases on the Moon. The Moon has one-sixth of Earth’s gravity and no atmosphere, but the difficulties of living there could be eased by something as beautiful and delicate as a flower.