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Planetary Science


Planetary Science News

Full Steam Ahead Podcast Episode 74 – Purdue’s Connection to NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Mission
Associate Professor of Planetary Science Briony Horgan knew she loved rocks and space while in college, but it was after reading some books by astronomer Carl Sagan that really inspired her to pursue a career in planetary science. Following her arrival at Purdue University in 2014, Horgan joined the Curiosity rover mission team in 2016 exploring the environment on Mars. And following a presentation by Horgan on the Jezero crater on Mars, NASA selected this location as a landing spot for the Perseverance rover mission to search for possible signs of life in this region on Mars. On the latest episode of Full Steam Ahead: A Podcast About Purdue, FOX59’s Adam Bartels talks to Horgan about her passion for space exploration, her involvement in the NASA Mars rover missions, her hopes for these explorations, and more!

Water on Mars: Discovery of Three Buried Lakes Intrigues Scientists
Two years ago, planetary scientists reported the discovery of a large saltwater lake under the ice at Mars’s south pole, a finding that was met with excitement and some skepticism. Now, researchers say they’ve confirmed the presence of that lake—and found three more. Dr. Mike Sori is a contributor to this Scientific American article.

Purdue planetary scientists may have solved the mystery of our Moon's South Pole-Aitkin Impact Basin
One of the mysteries our Earth’s moon has held is that some of the giant impact-generated basins we see do not behave the way scientists expected.  It was once expected that impact basins should all be mass deficits as they are large holes in the ground; however, some of the larger lunar impact basins are instead mass concentrations, or mascons.   Further adding to the mystery, all the largest impact basins except the largest and oldest basin, the South Pole-Aitken, are mascons.  The formation of mascons and their apparent size dependence baffled scientists.  That is, until now.

Graduate Students Laura Chaves and Adeene Denton awarded NASA FINESST Grants
Two graduate students from the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences have been awarded grants from Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST). Laura Chaves and Adeene Denton have been awarded as NASA FINESST for their work in planetary sciences. Of the 246 proposals for the planetary division, only 34 were selected.

Has life existed beyond Earth? Purdue professor going to great lengths to find out.
When the NASA Mars rover Perseverance launches in the next few weeks, it will travel to Jezero Crater, which preserves evidence of a time when rivers flowed on Mars. The mission will take the next leap in space science by searching for signs of past life on the red planet. Not the Martians of comic-book science fiction, but instead ancient microbes may have lived in Mars' rivers, lakes and swamps billions of years ago. This scientifically important landing site within Jezero Crater was selected by NASA following a presentation by Briony Horgan, Purdue University associate professor of planetary science, who is a member of the Perseverance science team.


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