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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Are Mars' atmospheric CO₂, O₂ and CO in equilibrium? Are sunlight or chemical reactions involved?

According to the NASA JPL video linked below the top five gases comprising the martian atmosphere include CO₂, O₂ and CO. Do the proportions reflect some chemical equilibrium? Are sunlight or chemical ...
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How does composition change if you extend an Earthlike atmosphere 50km below sea level? [closed]

I'm working to design a fictional planet inspired by Venus (let's call it Cael). At an altitude of 50 km, Cael's atmosphere is essentially identical to Earth's atmosphere at sea level, and parallels ...
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How are marsquake epicenters determined using only one seismometer?

This tweet says: Cerberus Fossae is the first active seismic zone ever discovered on Mars. Located about 1,600 kilometers east of @NASAInSight lander, this huge extensive tectonic structure was the ...
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How can Mars have dust storms with such a thin atmosphere?

Mars, as I understand, has a very thin atmosphere. However, it still has weather like this: What causes the thin atmosphere to move fast enough to cause such a monster wave of dust?
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How strong is the electric charge capacity of Martian dust storms?

In my answer to What would it feel like to be in a Martian dust storm? I assert that Martian dust storms would be best avoided, and as one of the reasons (besides carrying corrosive chemicals like ...
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Acoustics in Space

Acoustics is an important aspect of not just our architecture but how we and other deep ocean creature interact with each other and the surface. It is known to be used in submarines and other research ...
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What would be the challenges for a 50 km long tether to the surface of Venus to get recurrent surface samples there?

Basalt fiber would be an excellent material for a tether in the atmosphere of Venus because it could withstand both the acidity and the high temperature near the surface there. From this answer ...
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Would it be possible to “ride the wave” on Venus?

Update: Newly published paper in Nature Geoscience Atmospheric mountain wave generation on Venus and its influence on the solid planet’s rotation rate has open-access links in Science News, ...
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Is the retrograde (clockwise) rotation rate of Venus speeding up or slowing down?

In the update of the question "Would it be possible to "ride the wave" on Venus ?" there are links to articles in Science and in Science News that report that the atmosphere of Venus, hitting the ...
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Is it possible for a moon to have a higher surface gravity than the planet it is attached to?

Is it possible that a moon has a higher surface gravity than its planet? I guess it would mean that the moon has a higher mass, but then it would be the planet gravitating around the moon and the ...
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What does “clumps and streams” of hydrogen leaving Mars' atmosphere really mean? Are there images of them?

This excellent answer to Just how huge is Mars' cloud of hydrogen? links to the 14 October 2014 Nature News item "Hydrogen Cloud Blows Off Mars", by Alexandra Witze, https://www.nature.com/news/...
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Just how huge is Mars' cloud of hydrogen?

NASA Goddard's July 2018 press release NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft Finds That “Stolen” Electrons Enable Unusual Aurora on Mars says: But two puzzles make this type of aurora seem impossible at first ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Could the Moon keep an atmosphere?

When we think of terraforming a body in our galaxy Mars gets lots of consideration as the closest potential body. But what about the Moon? It is currently beyond our ability to add an atmosphere ...
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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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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. ...
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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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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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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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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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Why has no lander or rover visited Hellas Planitia on Mars?

While with this weeks discovery, I am sure everyone is waiting for the inevitable trip to Palantir Crater, I noticed that one Mars' largest crater, Hellax Planitia has never been visited by a lander ...
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Where do ice giants contain ice?

There is a class of planets called ice giants. Let's talk about Neptune. The top layer is atmosphere, consisting of hydrogen and helium. The amount of these gases is about 10% but they produce high ...
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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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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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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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When will we be able to conclusively confirm or disprove Bode's law?

I am reading Heinlein's Time for the Stars(1956) and some of the characters are very excited about confirming Bode's law. The formula suggests that, extending outward, each planet would be ...
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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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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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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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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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If there's nothing special about Pluto, why was it discovered so early?

Pluto was recently re-classified, losing its official status as the ninth planet, because a bunch of other dwarf planets were found in its orbital region that were too numerous and insignificant to ...
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Are there seasons on Luna?

I saw a comment that made me curious. The Earth's axis tilt is about 23.4°, whereas Luna's is only 1.54°. There is negligible atmosphere on Luna, and as far as I know although signs of water ...
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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?