Kepler in Search of Distant Earths

A artist's concept of Kepler-452b, a near-Earth-sized planet discovered by the Kepler space telescope. Courtesy NASA/Kepler

A Near-Earth-size Planet Isn’t Necessarily JUST Like Earth The news last week that the Kepler telescope had found a close “cousin” of Earth circling a sun-like star really brought out the speculation among people who don’t actually study planets for a living. The press, of course, ran with the story, calling … Continue reading

Exploring the Mountains of Pluto

A newly discovered mountain range lies near the southwestern margin of Pluto’s Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), situated between bright, icy plains and dark, heavily-cratered terrain. This image was acquired by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14, 2015 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers) and received on Earth on July 20. Features as small as a half-mile (1 kilometer) across are visible. Courtesy NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

Pluto’s Surface Has Changed Over Time So, Pluto has a second set of mountains along one edge of Tombaugh Regio (the heart-shaped region). The planet continues to stun all of us with amazing views sent back by New Horizons, and the mountains are just the latest in a long string … Continue reading

Pluto is Geologically Active


A Primer on Planetary Geology It’s great news that Pluto is geologically active, based on the fantastic images from New Horizons. I was hoping it would be, but the level of activity just simply implied in these images is amazing. The New Horizons team has its collective hands full with … Continue reading

Mountains on Pluto? Who Ordered Those?

Charon, the moon with the youthful and varied landscapes. Courtesy NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI.

It Just Gets Better and Better I live on the side of an 11,000-foot peak in Colorado. That’s how tall the solar system’s newly discovered mountains on Pluto tower over the frozen landscape. Imagine that. Mountains on Pluto. That’s what New Horizons found there. And showed us this week. To … Continue reading