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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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1answer
87 views

Is it possible to force atmosphere onto a non atmospheric planet?

If you had some way of injecting large masses of gas into a small planets gravitational field, would it form an atmosphere? You would have to pump it at an extreme rate but would it still work if the ...
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97 views

Have gravitation multipoles of Jupiter and Saturn beyond J2 been measured or at least estimated? At least the zonal harmonics?

This excellent answer has me wondering if there are any measurements or estimates of gravitational multipole moments of Jupiter or Saturn beyond J2. Here is what I found for J2 (in unitless form) in ...
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What would happen in this cavern on the Moon?

Imagine a large cavern on the moon, around the theoretical size limit determined by Purdue university - about 1.5 kilometers high, and 5 kilometers across on the floor. This cavern is a kilometer or ...
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120 views

How were Mars' zero elevation datum defined? What are their shapes?

Discussions on Boiling ponds and pools on Mars? led me to Wikipedia's Mars; Geography and naming of surface features which says: Because Mars has no oceans and hence no "sea level", a zero-...
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2answers
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Is there a list of world wide upcoming space events on the web?

Is there a list of all the international upcoming events like launches, expected arrivals at, and landings on celestial bodies, etc. on the internet ?
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1answer
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Psyche 16 - What will be learned in 2026?

I've been looking into a lot of the Discovery series missions, and came across the fact that 2 future missions are proposed, one for Jupiter Trojans, another for visiting an asteroid named "Psyche 16"...
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1answer
83 views

What is the heaviest chemical element that has been recovered from beyond cis-lunar space? [closed]

Material has come to Earth from deep space (beyond cis-linar) and been subjected to scientific analysis both in the form of meteorites, and via robotic sample collection spacecraft and robotic ...
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34 views

Is planetary impact testing planned for the InSight Mars lander's seismometers?

The question How could InSight's seismometers be intentionally and meaningfully “pinged”? is a hypothetical and has several good speculative answers. But here I'd like to ask specifically about any ...
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2answers
184 views

Has Mars quaked yet? Any scientific speculation when it might?

We have lots of questions about the Mars lander InSight's seismometers, and I remember reading that they have detected microseisms from wind blowing over InSight's solar panels and the surface of Mars ...
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4answers
1k views

Dark side of an exoplanet - if it was earth-like would its surface light be detectable?

The Kepler telescope looks at dark sides of exoplanets. If the exoplanet was earth-like would it not have emitted light? Would those lights be detectable, or what technological advances would be ...
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1answer
81 views

Are there both “lake” and “sea” designations on Titan? Officially or otherwise?

@TomSpilker's excellent answer to How (the heck) do they know some lakes on Titan are 100 meters deep? says at the very end: As far as the lakes (smaller than the seas) go, as the sources you cite ...
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1answer
144 views

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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1answer
117 views

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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1answer
130 views

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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1answer
96 views

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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1answer
240 views

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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998 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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190 views

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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148 views

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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1answer
125 views

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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1answer
169 views

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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27 views

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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85 views

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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113 views

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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1answer
70 views

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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1answer
139 views

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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3answers
233 views

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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0answers
62 views

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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2answers
387 views

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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6answers
8k views

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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395 views

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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153 views

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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127 views

3D celestial puzzle; why InSight's two RISE horns point 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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1answer
196 views

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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4answers
2k views

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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91 views

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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1answer
56 views

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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143 views

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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0answers
121 views

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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1answer
141 views

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
89 views

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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4answers
12k views

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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2answers
158 views

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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1answer
111 views

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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2answers
93 views

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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1answer
203 views

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
43 views

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
104 views

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
79 views

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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6answers
6k views

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 ...