Samantha Rolfe

Astronomy and Astrobiology

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Help name Pluto’s lumps and bumps! (before 7th April 2015, be quick!)

The International Astronomical Union is working with the New Horizons team are going to be naming features seen on Pluto and Charon once the spacecraft completes it’s fly-by this summer (14th July) (and therefore have actual pictures of these features… …).

They need our help deciding!! You can vote on names already suggested or suggest names yourself (as long as they fit into predetermined categories and unfortunately no living persons will have a feature named after them!).

Visit ASAP! Voting closes on 7th April!

You can see current voting results and discuss nominated names, don’t forget to check out the rules before submitting any suggestions!

I’ve used a lot of exclamation marks in this post, but it is only because this is a very rare opportunity and I am very excited. It is not often we get to see the surface of planet for the first time!

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The future of life detection on Mars

The future of life detection on Mars: We come in peace, but carry lasers! (Guest post for II-I- blog).

The robotic exploration of other planets has been happening for many decades now. We have been to almost all the classical planets, with the New Horizons mission presently on its way to the Pluto‑Charon system (Pluto will always be a planet in my heart). Among the earliest fragile feelers of this type were extended in the 1970s in the shape of the Viking missions to Mars. Mars has been the subject of speculation for over a century in the minds of humans when considering whether we are alone in the Universe. For many years, almost right up to the landing of the Viking missions, it was believed that Mars had vegetation on its surface; Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli thought he had observed a network of linear ‘channels’ on Mars during observations in 1877, which was later mistranslated as ‘canals’ by Percival Lowell, further fuelling the fire that intelligent Martians existed there…

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