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Wernher von Braun Remembered
April 20, 2012
Wernher von Braun (1912-1977) would have turned 100 on March 23. His name is almost synonymous with "rocket scientist" to many. Father of the American space program, including the first American satellite, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, the moon landings and Skylab, von Braun left an indelible mark on America and the world.
Tilt-A-World: Another Constraint on Habitability
January 12, 2012
Did you ever ride a Tilt-A-Whirl, one of those cheap carnival rides that makes you dizzy and sick? Our planet would be like that if its inclination were out of control. Without tilt stability, a new study reveals, we wouldn't be sick, we'd be dead, or never alive in the first place. It's not enough to be in the Habitable Zone. Would-be inhabited planets need to avoid a new problem, called “tilt erosion.”
Mercury Messenger: Surprise!
September 30, 2011
As boring as the moon? Just a burned-out cinder? Not Mercury. True to tradition for planetary exploration, the MESSENGER spacecraft has served up a plate of surprises about the innermost planet. In orbit since March, the ship is sending theorists back to the drawing board to figure out a number of puzzling phenomena, some unique to Mercury. Commentators fall into two categories: those that are flabbergasted, and those who say all is well.
Mercury Orbital Science Begins
June 18, 2011
Now that the MESSENGER spacecraft has settled into its orbit, systematic detailed observations are coming in. The Carnegie Institution has posted preliminary findings from the orbital science tour, rejoicing that “Tens of thousands of images reveal major features on the planet in high resolution for the first time,” and confessing that the data are confirming some predictions and revealing surprises.