Planetary Science News

Kepler Discovers Earth-Size Planet Orbiting a Star in the ‘Habitable Zone’

April 18, 2014

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Astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the “habitable zone,” confirming that Earth-size planets exist in the habitable zones of other stars and signaling a significant step closer to finding a world similar to Earth. Using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in […]

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Martian Meteorites Yield Clues to the Planet’s Early Atmosphere

April 17, 2014

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Using data from meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars, scientists investigate the chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere throughout history, and learn whether the planet has ever been hospitable to life. Geologists who analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars unlocked secrets of the Martian atmosphere hidden in the chemical signatures of […]

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New Study Presents “Water World” Theory for the Emergence of Life

April 16, 2014

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A new study describes how electrical energy naturally produced at the sea floor might have given rise to life, assembling decades of field, laboratory and theoretical research into a grand, unified picture. Life took root more than four billion years ago on our nascent Earth, a wetter and harsher place than now, bathed in sizzling […]

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New Modeling Reveals that Tilted Orbits Could Make More Worlds Habitable

April 16, 2014

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New research from astrobiologists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center reveals that large amplitude, high frequency obliquity oscillations on Earth-like exoplanets can suppress the ice-albedo feedback, increasing the outer edge of the habitable zone. Pivoting planets that lean one way and then change orientation within a short geological time period might be surprisingly habitable, according […]

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Cassini Reveals Possible New Moon Forming Around Saturn

April 15, 2014

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Using data from the Cassini spacecraft, astronomers believe they have discovered the possible formation of a new tiny moon within the rings of Saturn. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn. Informally named “Peggy,” the object may be a new moon. Details of the observations […]

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Researchers Discover the First Exomoon Candidate

April 11, 2014

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By using gravitational microlensing and taking advantage of chance alignments between stars, an international team of researchers has spotted the first signs of an exomoon. Titan, Europa, Io and Phobos are just a few members of our solar system’s pantheon of moons. Are there are other moons out there, orbiting planets beyond our sun? NASA-funded […]

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ASU Research Shows Gusev Crater on Mars Once Held a Lake

April 10, 2014

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New research from Arizona State University shows evidence that the Gusev Crater on Mars once held a lake. If desert mirages occur on Mars, “Lake Gusev” belongs among them. This come-and-go body of ancient water has come and gone more than once, at least in the eyes of Mars scientists. Now, however, it’s finally shifting […]

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Study Reveals Ancient Impact of Massive Asteroid

April 10, 2014

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A newly published study reveals an ancient asteroid impact that left a crater nearly 500 kilometers across: up to two and a half times larger in diameter than the crater formed by the dinosaur-killing asteroid. Washington, D.C. — Picture this: A massive asteroid almost as wide as Rhode Island and about three to five times […]

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Cassini Views the Lakes of Saturn’s Moon Titan

April 10, 2014

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Using a spectral filter, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft views the lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan. The Cassini spacecraft peers down through layers of haze to glimpse the lakes of Titan’s northern regions. Titan (3,200 miles, or 5,150 kilometers across) has a hydrological cycle similar to Earth’s, but instead of water, Titan’s lakes and seas are filled […]

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ESO’s Very Large Telescope Views Planetary Nebula Abell 33

April 9, 2014

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This newly released image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile shows planetary nebula Abell 33. Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have captured this eye-catching image of planetary nebula PN A66 33 — usually known as Abell 33. Created when an aging star blew off its outer layers, this beautiful blue bubble […]

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Curiosity Image Captures Mysterious Bright Spot

April 9, 2014

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A newly released Curiosity image shows a bright spot on the surface of Mars, which was possibly caused by the sun glinting off a rock or cosmic rays striking the camera’s detector. Images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on April 2 and April 3 include bright spots, which might be due to the sun […]

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New Radar Images from Cassini Show Familiar Forms on Titan’s Dunes

April 8, 2014

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New radar images from the Cassini orbiter show dark streaks carved into dunes on Saturn’s moon Titan. The moons of our Solar System are brimming with unusual landscapes. However, sometimes they look a little more familiar, as in this new radar image from the Cassini orbiter. The image shows dark streaks carved into dunes reminiscent […]

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