Scientists Discover Planetary System Similar to Our Own

An international team of scientists has discovered a planet and star that may share the same relationship as Jupiter and our Sun, the closest comparison that researchers have found since they began their search for extra-solar planets nearly a decade ago. By analyzing light spectra collected with the 3.9-meter Anglo-Australian Telescope in Siding Spring, Australia, scientists from the United States, Australia, and Britain made precision measurements of the star HD 70642.

Brighter Neptune suggests a planetary change of seasons

progressive increase in the brightness of the planet Neptune suggests that, like Earth, the distant planet has seasons. Observations of Neptune made during a six-year period with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope by a group of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) show that the planet is exhibiting a significant increase in brightness. The changes, observed mostly in the planet’s southern hemisphere, show a distinct increase in the amount and brightness of the banded cloud features that are a distinctive feature of the planet.

Planetary scientist has ‘modest proposal’ for sending probe to Earth’s core

Dave Stevenson has spent his career working on “swing-by” missions to the other planets. Now he has a modest proposal he’d like to swing by some government agency with a few billion dollars in available funding. According to Stevenson’s calculations, it should be possible to send a probe all the way to Earth’s core by combining several proven technologies with a few well-grounded scientific assumptions about the workings of the planet. The probe would sink straight to the core in an envelope of molten iron, sending temperature readings, compositional information, and other data along the way.

A solar mini-eclipse on May 7

On May 7, 2003, Mercury, the innermost planet in the solar system, will pass in front of the Sun and produce a solar eclipse. But this event will hardly be noticed. Mercury’s small disk will indeed barely be bigger than the point of a pencil. Even the smallest sunspots on the solar surface are as big as the Earth and measure 10,000 km or more in diameter, while Mercury’s equatorial diameter is only 4878 km.