News

Mercury’s Contraction Much Greater Than We Thought

Mercury’s Contraction Much Greater Than We Thought

New global imaging and topographic data from MESSENGER show that the innermost planet has contracted far more than previous estimates. The results are based on a global study of more than 5,900 geological landforms, such as curving cliff-like scarps and wrinkle ridges, that have resulted from the planet’s contraction as Mercury cooled. The findings, published online March 16, 2014, in Nature Geoscience, are key to understanding the planet’s thermal, tectonic, and volcanic history, and the structure of its unusually large metallic core.

Byrne and his coauthors, Christian Klimczak, A. M. Celâl Şengör, Sean Solomon, Thomas Watters,  and Steven Hauk, II, identified a much greater number and variety of geological structures on the planet than had been recognized in previous research. They identified 5,934 ridges and scarps attributed to global contraction, which ranged from 5 to 560 miles (9 to 900 kilometers) in length. 

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Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo Discover a Dwarf Planet on the Fringe of the Solar System

2012 VP 113

How big is the Solar System? After the discovery of the dwarf planet Sedna ten years ago, the question of what lies beyond the edge of the Solar System has been continuously sought out by the world’s brightest astronomers. This week, that question gets closer to an answer. DTM staff scientist Scott Sheppard and co-discoverer Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii, report in Nature their discovery of the dwarf planet 2012 VP113 orbiting the Sun far beyond Pluto in the most distant orbital trajectory around the Sun known.

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A Digital “Experiment” in Online Collaboration Opens its Doors at Carnegie’s Broad Branch Road Campus

ACC

Led by Carnegie’s highly respected librarian, Shaun Hardy, the Broad Branch Road (BBR) campus opened the Abelson Collaboration Center (ACC), a new digital collaboration room, this year. In this interview, Shaun takes us inside the design, creation and execution of the new facility and his hopes for the future uses of the ACC.

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March Postdoc Spotlight - Shoshana Weider

MESSENGER Mission

In a city as big as London, with all its light pollution, it is nearly impossible to see the spectacular stars, planets, and galaxies that decorate the night sky. But for DTM MESSENGER postdoctoral fellow, Shoshana Weider, growing up in the metropolis did not weaken her desire to investigate the universe. As a teenager, she took extra-curricular astronomy classes and reveled in inspirational movies like Apollo 13. Weider chose to study Earth Sciences for her undergraduate at the University of Oxford simply because she wanted to understand why the Earth looks and behaves the way it does. Her transition to lunar geology for her Ph.D. at Birkbeck College, University of London, made perfect sense as it coupled her long-lasting love for space with her geological knowledge. 

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Giant Magellan Telescope Looking Toward Construction

Giant Magellan Telescope

The international consortium of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) project has passed two major reviews and is positioned to enter the construction phase. When completed, the 25-meter GMT will have more than six times the collecting area of the largest telescopes today and ten times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists will explore distant and potentially habitable planets around other stars, the universe in the first billion years after the Big Bang, and the mysteries of dark matter, dark energy and massive black holes.

The Carnegie Institution for Science is a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO).* During a week-long review in mid-January, an international panel of experts examined the telescope’s design, its complex optical systems and precision scientific instruments. The panel concluded that the project meets the technical readiness required to proceed to construction. Immediately following the design review, a team of construction experts scrutinized the project’s cost estimate and management plan. Both review panels endorsed the team’s cost estimate and their approach to managing construction of the telescope atop a remote mountain peak in the Chilean Andes.

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