Questions tagged [planetary-science]

The study of planets, asteroids, comets, etc, including weather, geology, composition, etc. This tag should be used when the focus of the question is on the the science of a non-Earth non-star natural object, and not used when designing spacecraft to cope with said challenges.

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Why exactly would “permanently shadowed polar lunar craters… have substantially higher levels of ³He than sunlit lunar surfaces?”

Researching this answer led to ³He in permanently shadowed lunar polar surfaces published in Icarus. The abstract is tantalizing but terse: Abstract Because of their cryogenic temperatures, ...
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Will the Mars 2020 rover's sensitivity to methane be better than Curiosity's?

The New York Times article NASA Rover on Mars Detects Puff of Gas That Hints at Possibility of Life describes the newest detection of a "whiff" of methane on Mars. The article states that the level ...
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Moon's South Pole-Aitken basin mass anomaly, how to reconcile “isostatic equilibrium” with “heavy metal not sinking”?

The recent Phys.org piece Mass anomaly detected under the moon's largest crater is a review of a recently published and paywalled Geophysical Research Letter Deep Structure of the Lunar South Pole‐...
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How are martian dust devil maps made?

The Gizmodo article A Martian Dust Devil Swept Right Over NASA’s InSight Lander says: What’s unique about this most recent event, however, is that InSight was able to gather other forms of evidence ...
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How tall are Pluto's mountains? Are they the tallest ice features in the Solar System?

The Gizmodo article It Looks Like Pluto Has a Liquid Water Ocean shows a large image of pluto with obliquely lit peaks near both the terminator and the edge of the disk where the topography is really ...
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995 views

What materials are naturally released into space from earth?

I am wondering what kinds of materials that are released by Earth into space due to natural processes. If possible, what are their approximate rates in kg per day or year?
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Does Mars have badlands?

This excellent answer addresses the amazing 3D structures shown in the image below: The terrain examples show some striking similarities to what is referred to in the United States as "Badlands" - ...
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How are the most sensitive seismometers on Mars protected from the most powerful jackhammer on Mars just a few feet away?

In the image below we are supposed to be looking at the pretty clouds, but all I see is an incredibly sensitive set of seismometers sitting right next to a jackhammer that will slowly drive a metal ...
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Mangalyaan + Trident; is it possible? escape the solar system using a low cost booster

5 years ago, India launched the Mangalyaan spacecraft to Mars, on a budget that raised eyebrows at the time. It was probably the Mars mission launched with the least powerful rocket; a feat only made ...
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Carbon sources on the Moon?

In the answer to this question it is pointed out that while lunar soil may provide nutrients for plants, water and carbon dioxide are also needed. Water seems to be available, but how could there be ...
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What Jovian system science targets would be suitable for Jupiter gravity assist flyby missions with other primary purposes?

Flying by Jupiter for gravity assist, and with the Oberth effect bonus, has been used for multiple missions to other outer planets and to comets. And has potential for use even for missions aiming at ...
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How did scientists experimentally confirm that Saturn's ravioli-shaped moons had highly porous surfaces?

The NASA News article NASA's Cassini Finds Saturn's Rings Coat Tiny Moons says: The new research, from data gathered by six of Cassini's instruments before its mission ended in 2017, is a clear ...
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Probing gas giant planets by descending through a cyclones's “eye”?

On Earth cyclones have regions of calm weather commonly known as eyes. They appear to create tunnels spreading from the top of the atmosphere down to the sea level. Wikipedia article mentions their ...
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Mathematical approaches to analysis of terraforming

The process of terraforming has been discussed at length in this site. I am wondering if there has been any mathematical analysis of how terraforming would take place in credible scientific ...
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Highest velocity impact between a spacecraft and a solar system body? What about for a dedicated impactor (spacecraft component)?

In this answer I mention the proposed impact of DART: Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission Double Asteroid Redirection Test The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Element of the ...
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Do Curiosity's reported measurements of Mars' surface gravity (~3.717 m/s^2) include centrifugal effects?

In this answer I discuss the first results in the 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2016) conference paper First Gravity Traverse on the Martian Surface from the Curiosity Rover and a more ...
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When were the presence of specific elements on asteroids first identified?

Is there an approximation on when scientists first found out about certain elements on asteroids? What about gold in particular?
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Are rovers useful on low gravity, low atmosphere bodies?

Are rovers useful for exploring low atmosphere, low gravity objects? Are there more appropriate exploratory vehicles being proposed? If I am interested in taking geological samples from a region ...
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Why are probes that tend to explore outer system always launched to go outwards instead of straight upwards or downwards?

Let's take a look at the trajectory of variety probe missions. New Horizons and Ultima Thule will be 4.1 billion miles away when it visits the Kuiper Belt object. This chart shows the path of New ...
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Is there any reason Cyanobacteria or Lichens can't survive on Mars?

According to this article "Mars atmosphere is supersaturated with water" & according to answers to this physics stack exchange question conditions do exist on the surface of Mars where fluid water ...
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What's the deepest a trench could theoretically be dug on Mars?

Given the physical characteristics of Mars (the crusts thickness, it's composition, gravity, etc) how deep a trench (that could be expected to continue to exist indefinitely, or rather, for periods of ...
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3D Puzzler; why are InSight's two RISE horns pointed slightly south of east, and north of west?

@karthikeyan's excellent answer links to The Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment on the InSight Mission to Mars (Folkner, W.M., Dehant, V., Le Maistre, S. et al. Space Sci Rev (2018) 214: 100. ...
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How will InSight's RISE antennas end up pointed in the right direction?

The rendering of InSight shows the RISE antennas, the two microwave horns pointed just above the horizontal over each of the solar array paddles. If I understand correctly the experiment works when ...
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How could InSight's seismometers be intentionally and meaningfully “pinged”?

I had a friend whose summer job, a long long time ago, was to travel around an unsuspecting rural area, lay a heavy steel plate on the ground, and whack the plate with a sledge hammer. Apparently he ...
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Career in Planetary Science with an Engineering background

I am passionate in achieving a career in Planetary Science. I have a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering background with an average academic record. I want to pursue a career in Planetary ...
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How will “InSight's onboard communications gear perform a radio-science experiment to shed further light on Mars' innards?” (Space.com)

The Space.com article How NASA Mars Lander's 'Steampunk' Claw Will Work (Video) says: InSight's mission aims to provide a detailed look at Mars' interior structure and composition. The lander ...
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Are we still able to terraform Mars using greenhouse effect?

In the last month, a group from University of Colorado, Boulder, published a paper on Nature Astronomy entitled "Inventory of $CO_2$ available for terraforming Mars", which was highly publicized on ...
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How does Mars have a Bow Shock and proton aurora? What is a hydrogen corona?

I just saw the NASA video Mars Proton Aurora below and I'm confused, (which by itself is unremarkable). Without a planetary magnetic field, what force produces a bow shock in the solar wind at Mars, ...
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Is there evidence of a general trend among scientists regarding the terraforming of Mars? [closed]

I was wondering if there is a general trend or inclination of the scientific community about actually terraforming Mars, i.e. if scientists are for or against this move (again, general trend - ...
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1answer
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What are some objective that CubeSat's can complete/have completed?

I've been seriously considering looking into launching a CubeSat and it seems that the least of my worries would be design constraints. The money is less of an issue than the "why". There's plenty of ...
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Could we breathe an atmosphere that is not nitrogen based?

As I understand it, the important part of Earth's atmosphere that we breathe is the oxygen. However, Earth's air is only about 21% oxygen with the rest made up of about 78% nitrogen and 1% other gases,...
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How do we determine the internal composition of gas giants?

What kind of scientific experiment can a satellite conduct to determine the internal stucture of a gas giant? I know that geophones and seismic waves can be used for a planetary lander on a rocky ...
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What are the technologies that can identify, validate, and quantify water-rich locations on Mars?

As the discussion progresses from the likelihood that there is water on Mars through yes, near the poles, now to to Is there really a frozen lake near the equator on Mars? and There's a lot of ...
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If something were ejected from the solar system (like a planet for example), where exactly would it end up? Where does it go? [closed]

I have been reading about space and whatnot, and came across an article about a “lost planet” that Jupiter kicked out of the solar system therefore ejecting it, and it made me wonder where it went. ...
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Is really almost all the water in the atmosphere of Venus above the clouds?

In this question about the amount of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere of Venus it is calculated that the amount of water in it's atmosphere is $9.6 \times 10^{15} \text{ kg }$ H$_2$O. In one of the ...
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1answer
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Concentration of gases in an atmosphere

this question made me think what type of technique is used to get concentration of gases on planets? One can get the composition using spectrometry but is there anyway to tell concentration of each ...
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1answer
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Where to get Cassini VIMS data and optical transmission spectra of Titan's atmosphere?

In the extensive 2010 paper HYDROCARBON DEPOSITS ON TITAN by Clark et al. there are two plots that show Titan's atmospheric transmission windows. These plots (Figures 1 and 5) can be used to indicate ...
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1answer
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Does Juno's UVS have any chance to spot Europa plumes?

JIRAM has recently been proven to be useful to monitor the volcanic activity on Io, from a considerable distance. Europa Clipper will have an ultraviolet spectrograph which be pretty much a copy of ...
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What is the deepest we have penetrated a terrestrial body other than Earth?

Curiosity drills 6.4 cm (2.5 inch) holes on Mars. Comet harpoons have been proposed for future space probes. There are a number of ways in which we can penetrate the surface of terrestrial bodies, but ...
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What potential characteristics can be reasonably discussed about a hypothetical Martian microbial ecosystem in lava tubes? [closed]

Based on their hypothetical origin in lava tubes, what characteristics of hypothetical Martian lava tube microbes can we reasonably extrapolate? Could we theorize how different microbe species might ...
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1answer
55 views

Recommended source for familiarizing oneself with the applications of spectroscopy in planetary science

I have recently entered the field of planetary science as a limited-scope project which is part of my masters' degree in chemistry. My project is going to revolve around Titan and its complex organic ...
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270 views

Was there magma on the moon ? Is it still there

Sitting at home I realized spots on the moon. I felt that there are some dents or scars on the moon. It made me suspisious . I searched on net about it and the conclusion I found was that millions of ...
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What is a pickup ion?

I've been reading several publications about Titan's atmosphere and chemistry, and the term "pickup ion" kept appearing here and there (see this publication for example). I looked it up and found the ...
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Is it possible for something to fall straight down to earth? What are the requirements?

Meteorites leave strewn-fields before impacting, SpaceX rockets come in at an angle and stand up straight at the last second, the Soyuz capsule doesn't fall straight. I assume this has to do with the ...
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1answer
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How (if possible) can we assess the isotope variations on martian soils?

I'm personally interested in the biological implications of different isotope variations on biology. This can be tested on earth by separating them and just observing, but determining the isotope ...
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How can debris from an impact escape to a stable orbit?

Please help me understand: As far as I understand it, when an object gets thrown off the surface of a planet by an impact and doesn't reach escape velocity it is on a suborbital trajectory and ...
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How did Mariner 2's ridged radiometer dish focus two microwave bands but diffuse IR?

edit: more photos of a model of Mariner 2 here at Historic Spacecraft's Mariner_2. The images and quote are from the book Space Probes and Planetary Exploration William R. Corliss (written under the ...
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How old is the underground lake on Enceladus?

They always talk about how there might be life on Enceladus, but how old is this lake really? I would imagine water being ejected from the moon is not a process that would last forever (because the ...
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407 views

Can there be an atmosphere in a cave on an atmosphere-less planet?

I am making an exoplanet for a game and was wondering whether a planet without an atmosphere (or at least with a very weak atmosphere) could support caves that do have an atmosphere, or whether the ...
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What's the scientific evidence of water for return trip methalox on Mars?

EDIT: I am not asking if you think finding water is necessary for a return flight. I'm asking for the scientific evidence that there is mineable water on Mars that could be used for this purpose. ...