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Surface of the moon Enceladus

Planetary Science News

Living on Mars Time with Mastcam-Z
*BEEP!!!!!* *BEEP!!!!* The awakening sound of the alarm clock rings out through the bedroom. It’s 4 pm and the dying late winter light bleeds in around the makeshift blackout curtains of repurposed bed sheets. It’s another beautiful evening on Mars.

Revealed: NASA’s ‘Night Mission’ To Mercury, The Only Inner Planet We’ve Yet To Land On
Has anything landed on Mercury? No! NASA may have selected two missions to go to Venus this year, but what about the first planet from the Sun? It’s the only inner planet whose surface hasn’t been unexplored by a robot, but that could change with the “Mercury Lander” mission. Dr. Michelle Thompson of Purdue EAPS is on the mission concept team for this first-of-its-kind mission.

Mars Lake Hypothesis on Ice After Study Offers Different Explanation
Scientists have long debated what's under the surface of Mars' south pole. A new study points to clays being more likely than a subsurface lake. Dr. Briony Horgan of Purdue EAPS is cited in this article from Signals AZ.

Planetary scientist puts Mars lake theory on ice with new study that offers alternate explanation
For years scientists have been debating what might lay under the Martian planet's south polar cap after bright radar reflections were discovered and initially attributed to water. But now, a new study puts that theory to rest and demonstrates for the first time that another material is most likely the answer. Briony Horgan of EAPS is cited in this article from Science Daily.

Full Steam Ahead Podcast Episode 112 – Perseverance Mars Rover Update
NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Mission is only five months into its mission and already impressing everyone involved. The rover, launched on July 30, 2020 and landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, and has been busy ever since. Last October, Full Steam Ahead talked with Briony Horgan, an associate professor of Planetary Sciences, in between the launch and landing about the goal of mission, its importance, excitement and nerves, and much more. On the latest episode of Full Steam Ahead: A Podcast About Purdue, CBS4’s Adam Bartels catches up with Horgan to discuss the emotion of Perseverance’s landing, what’s happened since, what’s next, and more!

Perseverance rover prepares to collect Martian samples that will be sent to Earth
Almost a year after NASA's Perseverance rover was launched on its nearly seven-month journey to Mars, the robotic explorer is preparing to collect its first Martian sample within the next two weeks. Briony Horgan, part of the rover's science team and associate professor of planetary science in Purdue University's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences in the College of Science, is mentioned in this piece by CNN.

Stored for 50 Years, Technology is Finally Advanced Enough to Analyze Apollo Moon Samples
If hindsight is 20/20, what is foresight? Foresight like that of NASA leaders in the 1970s who locked 840 pounds of moon rocks and dust in a vault until technology advanced enough to study them accurately deserves at least 20/10. “When these samples were collected, when men walked on the moon, I hadn’t even been born yet,” said Thompson, an assistant professor of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “This sample has been on Earth longer than I have. It has been sitting in storage, waiting for scientists to analyze it since it was returned. Scientists now have tools and technologies that the original generation of astronauts could only dream of. Now it’s our turn to follow in their footsteps and study the moon rocks they brought back.”

Volcano research leads to better understanding of their deep structure
The deep structure of volcanoes has proven difficult for geoscientists to understand due to the inherent difficulty of seeing below the Earth’s surface. To get a more holistic understanding of volcanoes and their subsurface structure, a team of researchers from multiple disciplines, including Jonathan Delph of Purdue University’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, combined their expertise to better understand how their datasets can be interpreted in light of the others.

Planets With Seasons Like Ours Could Host Complex Alien Life, Suggests NASA Research
The theory goes that there’s a not-too-warm, not-too-cold, but just right “Goldilocks zone” within which liquid water can exist on the surface of a planet. “Worlds that are modestly tilted on their axes may be more likely to evolve complex life,” said Stephanie Olson from Purdue University and lead researcher of the study. “This helps us narrow the search for complex, perhaps even intelligent life in the Universe.”

Goldilocks planets 'with a tilt' may develop more complex life
Planets which are tilted on their axis, like Earth, are more capable of evolving complex life. This finding will help scientists refine the search for more advanced life on exoplanets. This NASA-funded research is presented at the Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference. The lead researcher, Stephanie Olson, of Purdue EAPS, presents at these findings at the Goldschmidt Conference at 11:30 a.m. EST on July 9, 2021.

Purdue scientists studying moon samples from Apollo 17 Mission
Researchers at Purdue are working on a groundbreaking project that's literally out of this world. "Curiosity is really what drives scientists and it's important to understand our place in the solar system," said Purdue Assistant Professor of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Michelle Thompson. That's exactly what Thompson is doing. She's in the middle of a three-year project analyzing moon dust from the Apollo 17 Mission. Video included.

Still taking giant leaps from lunar small steps: Purdue scientists analyze moon dust collected by Apollo 17 astronauts
Humans have not set foot on the moon for nearly 50 years, but the Apollo moon missions aren’t over. The echoes from Neil Armstrong’s first steps are still helping scientists make giant leaps in understanding the moon’s geology. Now, Purdue University scientists including Michelle Thompson, an assistant professor of EAPS in Purdue’s College of Science, and Marc Caffee, professor of Physics and Astronomy in the Department of Astronomy and Physics, are both working on teams that will analyze some of the moon rocks and lunar soil samples from that mission.

Scientists simulate alien volcanoes here on Earth
A small volume of liquid iron snakes across the top of the molten rock as narrow rivers flowing ten times faster than that underlying lava. Despite initially being a whopping 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, these rivers rapidly cool and solidify before the snail-like shimmying of the ropey lava below snaps them into pieces. Most of the liquid iron, though, sinks into the lava. It bunches up toward the front of the lava flow before exploding out of it as braided, winding streams — silvery strokes of an altogether alien calligrapher. Dr. Brandon Johnson of Purdue EAPS is cited in this article by Supercluster.

Making a difference in education: 2021 Purdue Teaching Awards
Innovative. Inspiring. Dedicated. Caring. You'll hear these words again and again and again when students and peers talk about the winners of Purdue's 2021 teaching awards: the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in Memory of Charles B. Murphy, the Exceptional Early Career Teaching Award and the Excellence in Instruction Award for Lecturers. These 10 teachers overcame obstacles of a global pandemic to innovate instruction and deliver impactful learning. Through their persistent pursuit of excellence, they assisted students in achieving their greatest potential with every class or lab – either in person, virtually, or both – shaping future Boilermaker leaders and changemakers. Today, Purdue is sharing their stories.

Purdue Scientist Discusses Role in NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover | Briony Horgan
"This is Purdue" Podcast featuring Dr. Briony Horgan An Associate Professor of Planetary Science at Purdue University, Briony Horgan is also one of the tactical science leads for NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover. She is examining the Mars landscape through a rover camera called Mastcam-Z - which she helped design for this mission. Talk about a Boilermaker who is taking Giant Leaps! Listen in as Briony discusses what the team of scientists on this mission is looking for on the Red Planet, and what being a part of Purdue’s community means to her.

Prof. Andrew Freed receives Dr. Gerald Krockover Outstanding Favorite Faculty Award
The Favorite Faculty Student Committee presented Prof. Andrew Freed with the inaugural Dr. Gerald Krockover Outstanding Favorite Faculty Award during a virtual ceremony on April 8, 2021.

Professor Mike Sori discusses his latest research about Triton, one of the moons of Neptune
Dr. Mike Sori, Professor of Planetary Geophysics, speaks about his recent publication in AGU titled, "Can Triton's Internal Heat Be Inferred From Its Ice Cap?" He discusses Triton (a moon of Neptune), its nitrogen ice cap, the “ocean world" moon's youthful surface, and the need for future spacecraft to further explore this part of our solar system.

Mars scientist examining the landscape through rover camera she helped design for NASA Perseverance mission
Briony Horgan raised her arms in triumph as the Mars rover Perseverance landed on Feb. 18, a symbolic declaration of mission success. That electric moment was just the beginning for the Purdue University scientist. With Perseverance on the ground and moving, Horgan is now focused on analyzing data from the instrument she works with: Mastcam-Z.

We're starting to answer some big questions about Mars
The rovers and orbiters studying Mars are being tasked with answering the persistent questions that remain about the Red Planet, decades after NASA sent its first missions to the world. EAPS professor Dr. Briony Horgan is quoted in this article from Axios.

Geochemist Marissa Tremblay’s Noble and Versatile Toolbox
AAAS Spotlight: Don’t underestimate the value of a spring break field trip. For noble gas geochemist Marissa Tremblay, a geology field trip to Death Valley when she was a freshman at Barnard College set her scientific career in motion. While other students slept in the van on the long drives through the desert, she sat up front asking her professor questions, mesmerized by geological time scales.

Where did Mars's liquid water go? A new theory holds fresh clues.
By plugging observations of the red planet into new models, a team of geologists and atmospheric scientists, including Purdue EAPS Briony Horgan, has come up with a new picture of Mars’s past: Much of the planet’s ancient water could have been trapped within minerals in the crust, where it remains to this day.

Celebrating teaching excellence
Winners of Purdue University's 2021 teaching awards – Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Awards in Memory of Charles B. Murphy, the Exceptional Early Career Teaching Award and the Excellence in Instruction Award for Lecturers – are being surprised with the news this week (March 15-19). The awards are given to faculty and lecturers on the West Lafayette campus and in Purdue Polytechnic Institute Statewide Programs.

Professor Andrew Freed awarded Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award
Congratulations to Professor Andrew Freed! He was surprised in class today and awarded the Purdue University 2021 Murphy Award for outstanding teaching. Thank you Prof. Freed for being such an inspirational teacher and helping #ProtectPurdue this year.

Scientists Face Unique Challenges In Weeks Following Perseverance Rover's Mars Landing
Scientists and historians say NASA’s latest Mars rover, which landed there last month, is unique in many ways. The Perseverance rover team had to adapt plans during the pandemic. Purdue University planetary science professor, Briony Horgan is a member of the Perseverance Science Team. She says when past rovers landed, the science team on earth lived and worked together for a few months. But that looks different now as many of the rover’s scientists work from home because of COVID-19.


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