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Joseph O'Rourke

Joseph O'Rourke has written 14 posts for astrobites

First look at NASA’s FY2015 Budget Request

The White House just released its budget request for FY 2015. Looks like NASA will continue supporting its main priorities, but will they sacrifice SOFIA to fund other missions?

Was Mars’ ancient magnetic field global or localized?

Strongly magnetized rocks on Mars are primarily concentrated in the southern hemisphere. This paper raises a serious objection to the hypothesis that localized dynamo action in the ancient martian core explains this puzzling observation.

Science, Still the Endless Frontier

In the final months of World War II, Vannevar Bush, director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, prepared a report that would forever shape federal support of scientific research.

Prevalence of Planets that Might be “Earth-like”, Maybe

A headline-grabbing paper calculated the prevalence of Earth-sized planets with long orbital periods around Sun-like stars. But are these planets anything like Earth?

50 Years of Planetary Science at Caltech

Lots of people said lots of interesting things during the anniversary celebration for Caltech’s planetary science department.

Atmospheric circulation on hot exoplanets: What about magnets?

Astronomers love to ignore magnetic fields. But they may strongly affect the pattern of atmospheric circulation in hot Jupiters.

Budget Battle Update: Dueling Visions for NASA

Another day, another fight over the future of America’s space agency. The House and the Senate can’t agree about asteroid retrieval, science funding, and much else.

Is Earth on the brink of a runaway greenhouse?

This paper considers the possibility that Earth could suffer a runaway or moist greenhouse effect, which probably turned Venus into a hellish wasteland long ago.

Transit Probabilities: Not As Simple As They Seem

Our simple formula for predicting the probability that an exoplanet will transit might miss something important.

Magnets in the Deep: Lower Mantle Metallization in Rocky Exoplanets

The existence of a conducting layer near the core/mantle boundary has profound implications for the operation of a dynamo in rocky exoplanets and for our ability to detect exoplanetary magnetic fields.

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