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Month-End Close-Out

Sometimes the creation-evolution news comes in too fast.  Here’s a baker’s dozen from the October shelf, lest they go stale; time to start a new batch for November. Charity begins at worldview:  David Cyranoski in Nature (450, 24-25, 10/31/2007) investigated why the level of charitable giving in prosperous Japan is a tenth of that in […]

Cassini Celebrates 10 Years in Space

The Cassini team is reveling in the outpouring of public praise for the mission.  Launched on October 15, 1997, Cassini-Huygens has spent ten years in space and is over three fourths the way through its prime mission, to explore the Saturn system, its rings, moons, magnetic field and the large moon Titan (see ESA and […]

New Horizons at Jupiter

New Horizons, a spaceship bound for Pluto, took a good look at the Jupiter system when passing by on Feb. 28.  The scientific findings were featured in a special section of Science last week, with 11 articles.  Joanne Baker said in the Introductory article,1 “The papers in this special issue record how the probe witnessed […]

Comet Woes: News Reports Hide Backroom Exasperation

“Comets are made of the most primitive stuff in the solar system,” a press release from University of Michigan triumphantly claimed today.  “As hunks of rock and ice that never coalesced into more planets, they give researchers clues to the evolution of solar systems.”     Tell that to Toby Owen and two colleagues who […]

More Impacts on Crater Count Dating

Planetary scientists have relied on crater counts to estimate the surface age of a planet or moon.  The more craters, the older the surface.  This method has recently come under closer scrutiny (see 10/20/2005) because of the phenomenon of secondary cratering.     A simplistic look at a crater-scarred planet or moon might lead one […]

Upsets: Assumptions About Genes, Atmospheres Challenged

It’s not fun when a whole superstructure of scientific theories and models is found to rest on a shaky foundation.  That’s just what may be happening in two very different fields: genetics and planetary science: Lateral pass to the opposing team:  Building evolutionary trees by comparing genomes was supposed to be simple.  Sure, geneticists knew […]

Mars Was and Is Dry

The cover story of Science this week has bad news for those hoping for Martian lakefront property.  A series of articles by planetary scientists who studied images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter casts strong doubt on the presence of water on Mars, even in the planet’s early days.  The overview article by Richard Kerr in […]

Iapetus update

The data have returned from Cassini’s closest-ever flyby of Iapetus (see 09/07/2007).  All the images can be found at Cassini Multimedia raw images, with good samples posted by the imaging team here and here.     Amateurs and pros at Unmanned Spaceflight started getting really excited at 12:40 a.m. Tuesday when the images hit the […]

Saturn’s Iapetus Takes Cassini’s Spotlight

Scientists are eagerly poised for Cassini’s long-awaited ultra-close flyby of Iapetus on September 10.  The previous visit in 2005 was over 77,000 miles away; this flyby will skim the surface from less than 1,000 miles.  Moreover, it will see a portion of the moon only vaguely imaged by Voyager and Cassini before.  Jet Propulsion Laboratory, […]

Solar System Solved?

Those who deal in models of the origin of the solar system sometimes have to entertain themselves to overcome grief.  See if you can detect this attitude in the following Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week from Space.com: “This has been a stumbling block for 30 years,” said Mordecai-Marc Mac Low, an astrophysicist at the […]

Solar System News

A flurry of discoveries about the Sun’s family has some scientists smiling and others furrowing their brows.  Astrobiologists, as usual, are wielding their divining rods, looking for water.  Some of these reports surfaced at the European Planetary Science Congress last week at Potsdam, Germany; see agenda and press releases at Europlanet. Basalt assault:  How did […]

Four Evidences of Cosmic Youth

Astronomers and planetary scientists routinely talk in millions and billions of years.  Three recent science news reports raise questions about how to fit apparently young objects into a vast timeline.  Lunar burps:  The moon is passing gas, reported Science News).  This explains the long history of observations of lunar transients, or bright flashes observed from […]

We Live in a Rare Solar System

Surveys of extrasolar planets are making our solar system look unusual.  Most stars that host a family of planets have the gas giants close in, an article on Space.com states.  The “hot Jupiters” seen around many stars would most likely eject any rocky planets from the habitable zone.  “Of the nearly 250 planets discovered so […]

Iapetus, Charon Look Young for Their Age

Hard bodies in the solar system are supposed to be billions of years old.  Why, then, do so many look smooth and young-looking?  Two examples made news today: Charon So Smooth:  Pluto has a moon named Charon (KAR-on) that apparently leaks beauty cream out of its interior.  Live Science and Space.com report about a study […]

The Daily Planet

This entry is not about birds or planes; it’s supernews from the solar system. Sponge Blob:  Hyperion, an oddball moon of Saturn between Titan and Iapetus, was featured at Jet Propulsion Laboratory last week (see stunning image from Sept. 2005 at the Cassini imaging team website).  Two papers in Nature July 5 analyzed its sponge-like […]
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