Planetary Science

  1. Planetary Science


    Recently discovered tiny satellites, all orbiting the outer planets in strange paths, may shed new light on a critical last phase in the formation of the planets.

  2. Planetary Science

    Bone-dry Mars?

    The presence of large amounts of olivine, a mineral that undergoes rapid chemical transformation when exposed to liquid water, argues against ancient oceans or lakes on Mars.

  3. Planetary Science

    Martian Invasion

    If all goes according to plan, three spacecraft—one in December, two in January—will land on the Red Planet, looking for evidence that liquid water once flowed on its surface.

  4. Planetary Science

    To the moon, European style

    The European Space Agency launched its first lunar mission, which is scheduled to reach the moon in 2005 and will search for water that may lie in the moon's permanently shadowed craters.

  5. Planetary Science

    News Splash: Strong evidence of lakes on Titan

    Using Earth-based radar to penetrate the thick atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan, planetary scientists have the best evidence yet that the smog-shrouded moon has lakes or oceans of hydrocarbons over large stretches of its surface.

  6. Planetary Science

    Galileo’s Demise: A planetary plunge, by Jove

    Out of fuel and according to plan, the Galileo spacecraft ended an 8-year tour of Jupiter and its moons on Sept. 21, when it dove into the planet’s dense atmosphere.

  7. Planetary Science

    After the Tragedy

    NASA's plan to return the space shuttles safely to flight after the Columbia accident is coming under intense scrutiny.

  8. Planetary Science

    Earthly Field Trip to Mars

    Interested in seeing Martian landscapes and features up close on Earth? This Web site offers kids a “field trip” to formations in the state of Washington that resemble those found on the Red Planet. Take a look at floodplains, volcanoes, basalt columns, lakebeds, canyons, sand dunes, and more. Go to:

  9. Planetary Science

    More Mars—Better than Ever

    On Aug. 27, Mars and Earth were closer to each other than at any other time in the last 50,000 years. Even as Earth and Mars slowly draw apart, the Red Planet remains a dazzling sight in the night sky. There’s still time to take in the view. Go to:

  10. Planetary Science

    A phoenix on Mars

    If all goes according to plan, a spacecraft will land on the north polar region of Mars in 2008 and scoop up samples of the icy terrain.

  11. Planetary Science

    Cozying up to Mars

    The Hubble Space Telescope photographed Mars on Aug. 27 when the planet came closer to Earth than it had in nearly 60,000 years, enabling the telescope to take the sharpest global image of Mars ever taken from Earth's vicinity.

  12. Planetary Science

    A warmer, fluffier Pluto

    Although Pluto has been receding from the sun for more than a decade, planetary scientists have now found that between 1988 and 2002, Pluto’s atmosphere has nearly doubled in size and its temperature has increased by about 1 degree C.