Earth and Planetary Sciences

The Big Picture has gorgeous shots taken by the Cassini probe. Above is Rhea.
Todayâs APOD is spectacular. Big version here.
Obama said: âMy administration will not deny facts -- we will be guided by themâ And then actually began to do something about climate change. A good start.
Solargraphy is the art of using long-exposure pinhole cameras to record the path of the sun across the sky. The above example (click through for enlarged version over at APOD) is a six month exposure taken in Bristol, UK. Here are instructions to do it yourself - no processing required beyond use of a scanner after exposure.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the landing of NASA's Spirit on Mars. Its sibling, Opportunity, will celebrate five years on January 24th. Expected to last 90 days on the hostile Mars surface, as this article reminds us, they are still going strong and have been awoken after their winter hibernation. Martian winds occasionally have cleared Spirit and Opportunity of suffocating dust, which was expected to coat their solar panels eventually and make them useless. "So, that's part of the reason: darn good engineering and a little bit of luck," [Phil] Christensen said. Phil Christensen is…
2009 is not just the Darwin Bicentennial, it is also the International Year of Astronomy. As APOD reminds us, This year was picked by the International Astronomical Union and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization because it occurs 400 years after Galileo turned one of the first telescopes toward the heavens. Peering through that small window, Galileo discovered that the Moon has craters, Venus has phases, Jupiter has moons, and Saturn has rings. ASU is hosting a series of events celebrating Darwin, and April will see a big symposium on origins, but I'm not…
Over at Uncommon Descent, "DaveScot" has attempted to make the case that "public interest in global warming evaporates". By his own measure, public interest in ID barely exists.
Sheril has just announced that Barak Obama has answered fourteen questions posed by the Science Debate 2008 team. I haven't had a chance to read his responses yet, so wander on over yourself to see what he has to say.
Tim @ Deltoid beat me to posting about the new (online at least) Naomi Oreskes talk in which she discusses the tactics of the Western Fuels Association (go here), so instead I'd like to take the opportunity to highlight a paper she and Zuoyue Wang contributed to the Isis Focus section on the value of history of science. The abstract reads: Historians of science have participated actively in debates over American science policy in the post-World War II period in a variety of ways, but their impact has been more to elucidate general concepts than to effect specific policy changes. Personal…
Like many on the blogosphere, I've had the opportunity to view Randy Olson's latest production Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. Billed as "an effort to understand the confusion around the global warming," the movie claims to be a "novel blend of three genres - mockumentary, documentary, and reality" and that alone illustrates the problem with the movie - it doesn't know what it's trying to be and after spending 85 minutes with it, I had no real clue what point Olson was trying to make and to whom he is making it. Indeed, it is only out of a sense of duty that I continued watching beyond the…
To quote the Lander: "Are you ready to celebrate?  Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars!  w00t!!!  Best day ever!!" More here.
From the Wall Street Journal: If the bans were lifted tomorrow, it would be at least seven years -- and likely as long as a decade -- before the first oil began to flow off the coasts of Florida, California and the eastern seaboard. "Is it going to happen overnight? No," said Dan Naatz, vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. "Is it going to solve all of our nation's energy problems? No."
Two quick shots ... Firstly, ASU is planning to install a 2 megawatt roof-top solar grid that will provide over 20% of the power to our campus. The installation is expected to be completed by the end of the year. That’s enough to run 4,600 computers and reduce carbon emissions by 2,825 tons per year, or the equivalent of taking 530 cars off the road for a year. Long-term plans call for up to 7 megawatts of solar-generating capacity to be built at ASU in Tempe, with additional solar installations at its campuses in downtown Phoenix and other locations. Secondly, Lawrence Krauss (of The…
Earth and Moon seen from Mars (source)
An absolutely stunning nightscape taken ten kilometers from Flagstaff (Arizona) just three weeks ago: the San Francisco Peaks covered with lenticular cloud with the Milky Way behind. All a testament to the status of the city as the first International Dark Sky City. Having spent plenty of time in Flagstaff, I can attest to the spectacular skies at night, but obviously I’ve never seen anything like this. APOD has a (much) bigger version which you really need to see.
Phil Plait brings to my attention that John Archibald Wheeler died yesterday. As Phil says: John Archibald Wheeler was a genius, an amazing physicist who felt that teaching as well as research was important. His students included Richard Feynman, widely recognized as one of the true geniuses of all time. His contributions to quantum mechanics and relativity were enormous. He invented the term black hole. There is an obit over at Cosmic Variance and I’m sure more will follow.
Via Phil Plait, this uber-cool false-color image of Phobos produced by HiRISE at the University of Arizona.
If you have problems with heights, this may not be the job for you. (via BackReaction)