LPL Newsletter for January 2021

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year from LPL! This month's news items demonstrate how we link space exploration past, present, and future.

LPL grad student Joana Voigt and her advisor, Christopher Hamilton, were among those leading a project to study how those plumes might originate. Studying the plumes is a high priority for the Europa Clipper mission later in this decade.

Our glimpse into the past comes courtesy of Dr. Vishnu Reddy's group, which found that a recently discovered "asteroid" is, in fact, the Centaur upper stage rocket booster from the unsuccessful 1966 NASA Surveyor 2 mission to the Moon.

For more science, as well as updates on department activities, faculty, staff, and student news, and more about what we've been up to, read the LPL Fall 2020 Semesterly Newsletter.

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Director and Department Head
Artist's conception of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa shows a hypothesized cryovolcanic eruption, in which briny water from within the icy shell blasts into space. Justice Blaine Wainwright

Plumes on Icy Worlds Hold Clues About What Lies Beneath

A new model shows how brine on Jupiter’s moon Europa can migrate within the icy shell to form pockets of salty water that erupt to the surface when freezing. The findings are important for the upcoming Europa Clipper mission and may explain cryovolcanic eruptions across icy bodies in the solar system.

NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility on Maunakea on the Big Island of Hawaii is used to determine the composition of near-Earth objects. Univ. of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy / Michael Connelley

New Data Confirm 2020 SO to be the Upper Centaur Rocket Booster from the 1960s

Using data collected at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) and orbit analysis from the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists have confirmed that Near-Earth Object (NEO) 2020 SO is, in fact, a 1960’s-Era Centaur rocket booster.