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Planetary Science News

Leading ‘instrumental’ research on Mars: Purdue EAPS welcomes new faculty member Roger Wiens
The Purdue University Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) welcomes Professor Roger Wiens to a growing list of faculty who passionately pursue planetary science. Wiens brings with him an extensive list of accomplishments which he acquired while working for NASA at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Moshammat (Moe) Mijjum awarded INSGC graduate fellowship
The Indiana Space Grant Consortium (INSGC) has awarded Moshammat (Moe) Mijjum an INSGC Graduate Fellowship. The INSGC is one of the 52 Consortia that participate in the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. In the state of Indiana, INSGC is a source of NASA-related information, awards and programs.

Analysis of Mars Audio Reveals Different Rules for Sound on the Red Planet
The Perseverance mission captured sound with microphones for the first time on Mars. A new study reveals some surprising findings about these acoustics and sound behavior. Dr. Roger Wiens of Purdue EAPS is cited in this article by Discover.

Salt may be the key to life on Earth and beyond
The composition of the atmosphere, especially the abundance of greenhouse gases, influences Earth’s climate. Researchers at Purdue University, led by Stephanie Olson, assistant professor of EAPS, have recently found that the presence of salt in seawater can also have a major impact on the habitability of Earth and other planets.

Perseverance: Nasa rover begins key drive to find life on Mars
Nasa's Perseverance rover has reached a big moment in its mission on Mars. Tuesday, the six-wheeled robot began the climb up an ancient delta feature in the crater where it landed. Dr. Briony Horgan, of Purdue EAPS, is cited in this article by BBC.

Purdue professor helps put 'ears' on Mars Perseverance rover
For more than 20 years, one Purdue University professor has worked to give us a better understanding of the planet Mars. Now, he is leading a team that accomplished something you might have to hear to believe. Purdue Planetary Science professor Roger Wiens just arrived on campus a couple of months ago, but he says the development of this technology began back in 2014. After almost five years of development, Wiens and his team have found a way to put ears on a Mars rover for the very first time.

NASA discovery earns Eagle ‘full ride’ National Science Foundation Fellowship
Purdue EAPS welcome graduate student Giovanni Bacon. He has recently been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and will attend Purdue EAPS to begin his doctoral program. His dream is to become an astronaut scientist, studying planetary and exoplanetary atmospheres and/or astrobiology.

10 Years of Planetary Science Special Seminar: Dr. Bill McKinnon
Ten years ago, Purdue EAPS added planetary to our sciences with the hiring of Dr. Jay Melosh. Today we honor Jay's memory with a special seminar featuring his first graduate student at Purdue University: Dr. Bill McKinnon of Washington University in St. Louis. His talk was titled, "What has NASA's New Horizons mission taught us about planet formation and evolution?"

In its visit to Psyche, NASA hopes to glimpse the center of the Earth
NASA’s mission to the solar system's largest metallic asteroid promises to show us the iron-nickel core of a dead planet. New research, however, hints that this asteroid is much more. Dr. Brandon Johnson of Purdue EAPS is cited in this article by Popular Science.

Scientists come up with fresh take on moon mystery
The far side of the moon, which we can never see from our vantage point on Earth, looks surprisingly different than the orb we're used to seeing in the night sky. The near side we are so familiar with appears darker in places -- the result of the vast ancient lava flows, called lunar mare -- while the far side is covered in pock marks and craters but no mare. Why the two sides of the moon are so different has long puzzled space scientists. However, a study published last week in the journal Science Advances has come up with a new explanation for this lunar mystery. CNN reports on this study which includes a publication including Purdue EAPS Professor, Dr. Brandon Johnson.

Purdue professor: Meteor caused explosion-like noise
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The explosion many people across Indiana heard on Wednesday afternoon was caused by meteor entering the earth’s atmosphere, a Purdue University professor believes. Brandon Johnson, an associate professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, says that an event like Wednesday’s is not the norm for Indiana. For that fact, he added, it’s rare when we get to hear or see a meteor make such a spectacular entrance.

Planetary scientist helps equip rover Perseverance with 4 of the 5 human senses
For two decades, Roger Wiens has built instruments to give humans eyes and a nose on Mars – and now he’s helping add ears as well. Wiens, a professor of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences in the College of Science at Purdue University, and an expert in Mars robotics technology, led the team that built SuperCam, a device on the Perseverance Mars rover that includes a laser for zapping rocks as well as the microphone that brought the first recordings of Mars to Earth.

What Sounds Captured by NASA’s Perseverance Rover Reveal About Mars
A new study based on recordings made by the rover finds that the speed of sound is slower on the Red Planet than on Earth and that, mostly, a deep silence prevails. This study, published today, is from the SuperCam Team which includes Dr. Roger Wiens, EAPS professor. This article by NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab includes a video with audio taken from Mars.

‘Big boom’ in Southern Indiana believed to be a meteor explosion
Scientists believe the loud boom that was heard across several counties in South Central Indiana was caused by a meteor explosion. Scientists at Purdue watched surveillance videos that captured the noise and believe the boom can be attributed to an “air burst.” Dr. Brandon Johnson, of Purdue EAPS, is cited in this article by CBS4, Indy.

Mounds of ice in craters give new insight into Mars' past climate
Newly discovered deposits of layered ice in craters scattered around Mars' southern hemisphere provide insights into how the planet's orientation controlled the planet's climate over the past 4 million years, according to a new study. The findings help scientists understand what controlled Mars' past climate, which is essential for predicting when the planet could have been habitable. Dr. Mike Sori and Riley McGlasson of Purdue EAPS are cited in this article by Mars Daily.

When worlds collide: Studying impact craters to uncover the secrets of the solar system
While for humans the constants might be death and taxes, for planets the constants are gravity and collisions. Dr. Brandon Johnson, of Purdue EAPS, studies the latter, using information about impacts to understand the history and the composition of planets, moons, asteroids and meteorites throughout the solar system.

Ice on Mars gives a peek into the red planet’s climate history
Understanding the relationship between Mars’ climate and its axial tilt and orbit around the sun is one of the most important goals of Mars science. Most past studies toward this goal have studied the polar ice caps: huge sheets of water ice at the north and south pole. To gain more insight, a team of researchers, led by Michael Sori of Purdue University, have, instead, studied smaller ice deposits (only tens of kilometers in diameter) near the north and south pole but separate from the larger polar ice caps, located inside craters. The team found that the ice deposit in Burroughs Crater contains particularly good evidence that recent Martian climate is strongly controlled by changes in the planet’s orbit and axial tilt.

New clues reveal the devastation the day the dinosaurs died
Unusual traces found in Texas show what happened when the Chicxulub asteroid vaporized a thick bed of rock, unleashing superheated gas that kicked off a calamitous period of climate changes. Tiny flecks of white dot a section of crumbly rocks along Texas's Brazos River. Now a study published in the journal Geology uses the tiny white specks in Texas, known as lapilli, to reveal intriguing new details about what happened in the minutes after that fateful impact: The asteroid struck with so much power it instantly vaporized a thick bed of carbonate rocks below, sending a superheated gaseous plume billowing upward along with a curtain of rocky fragments blasted from the surface. Purdue EAPS Prof. Brandon Johnson is cited in this article by National Geographic.

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Is Hunting for Ancient Life
More than a year ago, NASA’s Perseverance rover soared through the Martian atmosphere and touched down on the Red Planet. This rover is hunting for ancient life. Purdue EAPS Prof. Briony Horgan is cited in this article by Popular Mechanics.

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover nabs 8th rock sample on the Red Planet
NASA's top-notch Red Planet geology rover is moving on to explore an ancient river delta now that its eighth rock sample is secured for future analysis. "If microbial life did exist here in the past," says Brad Garczynski, a student collaborator at Purdue EAPS, "this is one of the best places to look for it, as finely layered muds may have buried and preserved a record of that microbial activity."

Controversial impact crater under Greenland’s ice is surprisingly ancient
An impact crater under the ice of Greenland is much older than previously assumed based on tiny mineral crystals in rocks shocked by the impact. Dr. Brandon Johnson of Purdue Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences is cited in this article by Science Magazine.

Ingenuity Helicopter Reaches 20th Flight On Mars
We’ve now flown on the Red Planet 20 times over. Soaring above the surface of Jezero Crater, the plucky Ingenuity drone helicopter touched down safely after a midair journey lasting more than two minutes. Perseverance science team member Briony Horgan, an associate professor of planetary science at Purdue University, is cited in this article by Forbes.

A year after landing on Mars, Perseverance rover sets sights on intriguing new target
A year ago, two robots landed on Mars and forever changed the way we explore the red planet. The joy and excitement of the successful landing for the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter, taking place during a time of hardship for so many, echoed around the globe. Dr. Briony Horgan, of Purdue EAPS, is on the rover team and is cited in this article by CNN.

NASA's Perseverance rover marks its first year hunting for past life on Mars
It's been one year since a nuclear-powered, one-armed, six-wheeled robot punched through the Martian atmosphere at a blazing 12,000 miles per hour, and a supersonic parachute slowed it way down until a rocket-powered "jetpack" could fire its engines and then gently lower it onto the surface. How has NASA's Perseverance rover performed in that year? Dr. Briony Horgan, of Purdue EAPS, is on the rover team and is cited in this article by NPR.


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