Tag Archives: planets

A GRaND Discovery: Dwarf Planet Ceres is Well-Stocked With Water


After 4 billion years, the dwarf planet Ceres is still carrying a surprising amount of water weight — as much as 30 percent.

The finding, which was published in the Jan. 6 edition of the journal Science, is consistent with earlier models, and provides valuable clues to how Ceres formed.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Dwarf Planet Ceres Up To 30 Percent Water

As in Chile, So on Mars: Silica Nodules and the Case for Micobial Life

Geysers at El Tatio, in Chile. Photo by Chmouel Boudjnah.

Work in the Chilean desert by Arizona State University scientists has reopened debate regarding the biological origins of Martian silica fragments found in 2007 — and strengthened the case for life on Mars billions of years ago.

NASA’s Spirit rover churned up the opaline silica deposits as it explored the Columbia Hills area of Mars’s Gusev Crater.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Silica Nodules In Chile Argue For Ancient Life On Mars

Thermal Camera Will Narrow Search for Water, Life on Europa

Image of Europa's chaotic surface.
Image courtesy NASA/JPL/DLR.

NASA’s recent news that the Hubble Space Telescope had spotted liquid water plumes on Jupiter’s moon Europa has raised interest in a planned mission that will study the icy world to confirm the ocean’s presence and search for signs of life.

An instrument being built by Arizona State University will show experts where to start looking.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
ASU Thermal Camera Will Guide Europa Mission’s Search For Water, Life

Ice Volcano on Ceres

Scientists studying dwarf planet Ceres have found that a  13,000-foot volcano there arose not from silicic magma, but from muddy, salty ice that rose to the ~160 K surface and quick-froze like Smucker’s® Magic Shell.

Finding such a dramatic cryovolcanic process this close to the sun – in the inner asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter – is unusual, and bolsters the idea that Ceres might have originated in the outer solar system. It also lends credence to the notion that asteroids and comets might be more closely related than once thought.

Read/listen to  my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
13,000-Foot Mountain On Dwarf Planet Ceres May Be An Ice Volcano

Who Names NASA’s Space Probes?

Early artist's conception of New Horizons, courtesy of NASA.
Early artist’s conception of New Horizons, courtesy of NASA.

The latest NASA space probes to make the news have zoomed to the farthest reaches of the solar system, and their names – Pluto’s New Horizons, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s Rosetta and Philae – reflect the ambition and spirit of discovery behind them.

But who gets to pick those evocative names, and is there any pattern that ties them together? Read on …

What’s Way Cooler Than Naming a Kid? Naming a NASA Spacecraft