Blog about planets.

The Ceraunius Tholus volcano as seen by the TGO space probe's CaSSIS instrument with the frost in blueish

An article published in the journal “Nature Geoscience” reports the detection of frost on volcanoes in the Tharsis region on Mars. A team of researchers used data obtained from two ESA space probes, the ExoMars mission’s TGO and Mars Express, which made it possible to discover for the first time the presence of frozen water on the Martian surface at the red planet’s equator. In the calderas of the big volcanoes of Tharsis, blue deposits that can be attributed to water ice were spotted which are present only in the morning and then evaporate a few hours later.

The Earth and artistic concepts showing the exoplanet Gliese 12 b in possible versions ranging from no atmosphere to a very thick atmosphere like that of Venus

Two articles, one published in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” and one in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters”, report independent confirmations of the discovery of the exoplanet Gliese 12 b, which has a size very close to the Earth’s but orbits a red dwarf that has a mass and size that are around a quarter of the Sun’s. Two teams of researchers used observations conducted by NASA’s TESS space telescope and confirmations obtained with other instruments to verify the existence of Gliese 12 b. The available information doesn’t reveal if it has an atmosphere but several factors make it a good candidate for a follow-up search with the James Webb Space Telescope.

Artistic representation of the exoplanet WASP-193 b

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” reports the identification of the exoplanet WASP-193 b, a gas giant whose diameter is approximately 1.5 times Jupiter’s but with a mass that is only one-seventh of Jupiter’s. A team of researchers led by Khalid Barkaoui of the University of Li√®ge, Belgium, used the WASP-South telescope of the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) collaboration to locate WASP-193 b and then study its characteristics with other instruments. The combination of this exoplanet’s mass and density is really difficult to explain since no theory of planetary formation leads to a planet like this.

A diagram of a secondary eclipse and a graph of the resulting change in brightness over time in the 55 Cancri system based on detections by the James Webb Space Telescope's MIRI instrument

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports the results of a study of the exoplanet 55 Cancri e, formally called Janssen, which confirms the presence of an atmosphere that is considered secondary, which means that it derives from emissions coming from the planet itself. A team of researchers led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) used observations conducted with the James Webb Space Telescope to detect traces of an atmosphere that may be rich in carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide.

Artist's concept of the impact of a dwarf planet on Pluto (Image courtesy University of Bern, Illustration: Thibaut Roger)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” offers an explanation for the formation of the large and deep basin known as Sputnik Planitia on Pluto with its characteristic heart shape. A team of scientists coordinated by the Swiss University of Bern created computer simulations that indicate that the depression that is some kilometers deep could have been generated by an impact with an object with a diameter of around 700 kilometers that occurred at an oblique angle and was relatively slow. The results of these simulations also suggest that Pluto likely doesn’t have a subsurface ocean of liquid water, unlike other studies.