Author Archive

How Crowded is the Asteroid Belt?

It turns out the asteroid belt is a fairly empty and lonely place.

Sciency Words: Planetary Protection

Until recently, planetary protection has been a fairly esoteric concern. But now we know there’s water

Sciency Words: Recurring Slope Linea

There’s water on Mars. Liquid water. On the planet’s surface...

Sciency Words: Solar Wind

The Sun produces more than just sunlight. In addition to boring, electrically neutral photons of various

Sciency Words: Binary Planet

Pluto and Charon have such an unusual relationship with each other that modern scientific literature often

Sciency Words: Ring Arcs

The existence of these arcs doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Ring particles should spread

Sciency Words: Planet X

Planet X is perhaps the most abused term in modern astronomy. The name has been coopted

Sciency Words: Centaur

It is believed that most centaurs used to be Kuiper belt objects or objects from the

Sciency Words: Cantaloupe Terrain

This heavily dimpled surface topography, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the skin of a cantaloupe,

Sciency Words: Flagship Mission

In relation to the ice giants, everyone seems to agree that a discovery-class mission could never

Sciency Words: Occultation

Occultations are a rare and wonderful cosmic coincidence, and they also provide astronomers with an incredible

Sciency Words: Verona Rupes

The moons of Uranus are generally named after Shakespearean characters, or at least characters from classic

Sciency Words: Ice Giant

Depending on whom you ask, our Solar System has either four gas giants or only two.

Sciency Words: Uranus

As we continue our voyage through the Solar System, we now reach a planet that has

Sciency Words: Specular Reflection

Specular reflections are rare in nature. Few surfaces have the perfect, mirror-smooth finish that makes this

Sciency Words: Trojans

Trojan asteroids are asteroids that share their orbits with a planet. This may not seem like

Sciency Words: Cryovolcano

When cryovolcanoes erupt, their cryomagma tends to include lots of liquid water, but at temperatures well

Sciency Words: Roche Limit

First calculated in 1848 by French astronomer and mathematician Edouard Roche, the Roche limit describes the

Sciency Words: Hot Jupiter

Today’s post is part of a special series that first appeared on Planet Pailly. Every week,

Sciency Words: Kirkwood Gaps

Kirkwood gaps are named after Daniel Kirkwood, the astronomer who first discovered them and correctly deduced