Department of Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences
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Space Science Reviews

Planned Geological Investigations of the Europa Clipper Mission

Associate Professor Ingrid Daubar and colleagues recently published a new paper in Space Science Reviews titled “Planned Geological Investigations of the Europa Clipper Mission.” The publication outlines the geological investigations planned for the Europa Clipper mission, which aims to assess Europa’s potential habitability.
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DEEPS Professor Jim Head spoke with Space.com about the MEPAG Tiger Team report and their insights into NASA's moon-to-Mars strategy. "NASA is currently updating the objectives for the Moon-to-Mars initiative with the strategy of 'architect from the right/execute from the left,'" Head said.
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In a new paper published in the journal of Science China Earth Sciences, DEEPS Professor James Head and colleagues used the phases of volcanic activity and deposits formed by meteorite impacts to propose a new time scale for the Moon's geologic history.
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Brown's Multimedia Lab encourages students to create projects using film negatives from NASA Lunar Orbiter 4 Mission. The scans were originally part of the Brown/NASA Northeast Planetary Data Center and were donated to the Creative Reuse Center in June 2023 after a DEEPS consolidation effort. “We were surprised and delighted to see some of the scans turn up back at Brown,” Jackson wrote to the Brown Daily Herald.

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NASA-funded researchers have been granted permission to apply to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) for access to portions of samples collected by China’s Chang’e-5 mission. This is an exciting and welcome development, DEEPS Professor James Head told SpaceNews. “The Solar System is a big place, and planetary science can benefit tremendously from complementary, non-duplicative exploration destinations, and the sharing of samples and other results.”
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The next wave of lunar explorers is headed to terrain that promises to be both stunning and challenging. DEEPS Professor James Head offered his comment, saying "I don’t think we know yet how the trafficability is going to affect how the astronauts are going to be able to walk and drive."
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The Odyssey orbiter captured clouds and dust in the Red Planet’s skies, along with one of its two tiny moons. Laura Kerber '11, deputy project scientist for NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter, explains in a video how and why the spacecraft captured a view of the Red Planet similar to the International Space Station’s view of Earth.
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Assistant Professor James W. Dottin III is featured on a recent episode of PBS's science documentary series, NOVA. In the episode, "Ancient Earth: Birth of the Sky," scientists explore the creation of Earth's atmosphere and our familiar blue sky.
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News from DEEPS

Yongsong Lab watches OSIRIS-REx Return

Members of Professor Yongsong Huang's Lab gathered to watch and celebrate the historic return of NASA's Bennu sampling capsule arrival in Utah.
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NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security–Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission is returning to Earth carrying an estimated 250 grams (8.8 ounces) of material gathered from the surface of an asteroid. Takahiro Hiroi, DEEPS Senior Research Scientist and Spectroscopy Specialist, shared his optimism for the mission, saying, “Returned samples can additionally [preserve] microscopic, including nanophase, materials that can be evidence of space weathering or shock events, most elements and isotopes, grain density, [and] material strength.”
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University of Central Florida planetary scientist and DEEPS alumna Kerri Donaldson Hanna is counting the days until NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer mission launches from Cape Canaveral and begins its journey to search for water on the moon.
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News from DEEPS

Kim Cobb and Alberto Saal elected as AGU Fellows

Professors Kim Cobb and Alberto Saal have been elected as American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fellows. They join 53 other individuals in the 2023 Class of Fellows. AGU, the world's largest Earth and space sciences association, annually recognizes a select number of individuals for its highest honors. Since 1962, the AGU Union Fellows Committee has selected less than 0.1% of members as new Fellows.
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CGTN: The Agenda

Mission to the Moon

In a recent episode of The Agenda, Juliet Mann speaks to James Head, Professor of Geological Sciences at Brown University, who helped select landing sites for the Apollo moon program, and Xu Yansong, Director-General of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Program.
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F. Scott Anderson ‘90 of the Southwest Research Institute is the Principle Investigator on the mission Dating an Irregular Mare Patch with a Lunar Explorer (DIMPLE), which will investigate the Ina Irregular Mare Patch, discovered in 1971 by Apollo 15 orbital images. "Our mission," said Professor Jim Head, "is designed to land, explore, and date in situ, the enigmatic Ina D-shaped pit crater, a volcanic features whose impact crater-count age is interpreted to be an astoundingly young ~33 million years, but whose geological context suggests could be over 3 billion years."
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The Planetary Society

Comparing the rivers of Earth, Mars, and Titan

Get ready for a journey across the rivers of our Solar System in this week's Planetary Radio. Sam Birch, an assistant professor at Brown University, explores what we know about the alluvial rivers of Earth, Mars, and Saturn’s moon Titan.
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In late June, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson traveled to the Ocean State for a firsthand look at the research and technology that Rhode Island colleges, universities and businesses are producing to support the space agency’s mission.
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Over the 14 years since its launch, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft has produced images and data proven that have transformed our understanding of Earth's celestial neighbor. Professor and noted lunar researcher Carle Pieters spoke with Space.com about the importance of future orbital observations of the moon.
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Assistant Professor Gerrit Budde received a Salomon award for his work establishing new procedures for complete sample digestion of meteorite samples utilizing laser-assisted melting and for combined isotope analyses of oxygen and ‘heavy’ elements. Professor Timothy Herbert received a Salomon award for his project developing proof of concept data directly relevant to the long-term stability of the Antarctic ice cap to be submitted to the NSF Marine Geology and Geophysics program.
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A new study shows evidence that, as recently as 1991, a volcano erupted on Venus. “This study is really important,” said DEEPS Professor Emeritus James W. Head, who was not involved in the research. “Could this be the way Earth was in its earliest history? Or the way Earth is headed in its future?”

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The Brown Daily Herald has featured a story about John Matthew Nicklas, a second-year medical student currently on leave from the Alpert Medical School, and DEEPS PhD student focused on planetary health. Planetary health is an interdisciplinary field that studies the links between human health and the health of the planet’s natural systems and resources.
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A vital part of future planetary science missions will be the development of more inclusive teams. As NASA’s InSight mission comes to its end on Mars, Professor Ingrid J. Daubar and the team share strategies that have helped them to work toward this goal in a new Nature Astronomy article.
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NASA has built a new rocket and spacecraft to get astronauts to Earth's nearest neighbor, and it's developing a new toolkit for them to use on the lunar surface as well. Professor James Head reflects on Apollo tool handling with Space.com
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Impakter

Are We Alone? NASA Begins New UFO Research

DEEPS alumnus David Grinspoon ’82, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, has been selected by NASA to participate in its independent study team on unidentified aerial phenomena, aka UFOs. The first of its kind at NASA, the team will analyze unclassified data on documented UFO sightings with the aim to shed light on the potential nature of the recorded encounters.
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NASA’s InSight lander recorded a magnitude 4 marsquake caused by a massive meteoroid strike. “It’s unprecedented to find a fresh impact of this size,” said Assistant Professor (Research) Ingrid Daubar, who leads InSight’s Impact Science Working Group. “It’s an exciting moment in geologic history, and we got to witness it.”
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NASA will host a virtual media briefing at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT) on Thursday, Oct. 27, to share new scientific findings based on observations from the agency’s InSight Mars lander and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). One of the participants will be Ingrid Daubar, DEEPS Assistant Professor (Research) and InSight impact science lead.
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A new paper co-authored by Associate Professor Ralph Milliken and Senior Research Scientist Takahiro Hiroi examines the Formation and evolution of carbonaceous asteroid Ryugu using samples returned by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft (JAXA mission). DEEPS alumn Seiji Sugita also contributed to the research.
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The Mars lander’s seismometer picked up vibrations and sounds from four impacts in the past two years, a development detailed in a study co-authored by Brown planetary scientist Ingrid Daubar.
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As for any consensus among scientists that signs of past or present life have been seen by Perseverance, once again, don't wait for a slam dunk observation. Professor Jack Mustard discusses the Perseverance Rover and the search for life on Mars.
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The SSERVI Awards recognize outstanding achievements in exploration science and recipients have each made unique contributions to NASA’s human exploration efforts. SSERVI Award winners are nominated by their academic peers and are selected by a committee based at SSERVI’s central office. The awards will be presented along with invited lectures from the recipients at the 2022 NASA Exploration Science Forum (NESF).
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Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)

Professor James W. Head the 2022 COSPAR Space Science Award

COSPAR is happy to announce the winners of its 2022 Awards, to be presented during the 44th COSPAR Scientific
Assembly in Athens, Greece. COSPAR bestows a number of medals and awards each year – some jointly with other
institutions or space agencies – upon endorsed candidates of merit.
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Brown Daily Herald

NASA officer commends rise of crowdsourced science

DEEPS Visiting Scientist and NASA Citizen Science Officer Marc Kuchner facilitated a seminar on the growing importance of “citizen science” — an uncoordinated collection of independent volunteers around the world — in advancing the discovery of exoplanets and planet formation.

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