VIEW HEADLINES ONLY

Will Pluto Surprise Scientists?

First-time encounters have a long history of shocking planetary scientists with unexpected features. It's about time for Pluto.

What to Look for at Pluto

As New Horizons closes in on Pluto for its July 14 encounter, what questions should be asked?

Water Worlds Tempt with Life, Not Youth

More and more planets and moons are suspected of having liquid water, but what should be the logical implications?

Solar System Reversals

The planets keep going around, but theories about them often stop and go backward or sideways. When nothing else works, send in the impactors!

Of Planets and People

Here's a quick tour of the planets to see what's newsworthy.
Triton Neptune montage

Active Moon Triton Revisited

25 years ago today, Voyager 2 flew by Triton, a moon of Neptune, astonishing scientists with its active geology.

Keeping Titan Old

As the Cassini orbiter makes its 103rd close pass by Titan, have long-agers found ways to keep it billions of years old?

Every Planet Surprises Secular Astronomers, II: Outer Planets

"Surprise" or "puzzling" are the most common words in news reports about bodies in the solar system. Here are recent examples that discuss the outer planets.

Two Solar System Surprises

Sometimes we learn more from surprises than predictions.

Scientists Dodge Youthfulness of Saturn Moon Titan

Like Enceladus, Saturn's moon Titan shows multiple signs of being far less than 4.5 billion years old – yet the press releases are strangely silent about the implications.

Astronomers Wrestle with "Endless Mysteries"

Some of the biggest questions in the universe remain completely baffling to astronomers, a leading journal admitted.

Europa Plus Water Does Not Equal Life

NASA gave one of its high-profile press releases this week to dazzle reporters: Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter, may have large lakes of liquid water under its icy shell, closer to the surface than the deep ocean long believed to exist miles down. The curious domes rising above the ice seem to indicate heating that Would the reporters resist the temptation to speculate about life?

New Worlds

Members of our solar system that were little more than points of light for decades or centuries have now become familiar family members, seen up close and personal by spacecraft. Here are introductions to three worlds that are no longer mere names in a catalog. Even the names of members in this trio may be unfamiliar to some. They’re worth getting to know.

8.7 Million Species Is Not a Scientific Fact

Human beings love to classify things. We pigeonhole items into bins of our own making, for whatever the reason, to give us a feeling of having things organized and understood. Do our pigeonholes reflect categories that are “out there” in nature, or are they constructs of our own minds? Science reporters are announcing in bold print that there are “8.7 million species on Earth,” but a look at the fine print shows the error bars to be so enormous, there is more error than data. What does this imply about the scientific validity of human classification schemes?
All Posts by Date