Astrobiology

400 years of Planetary Cartography - mapping channels on Mars

Since Galileo, astronomers and planetary scientists work hard to draw accurate representations of planetary surfaces. Planetary mapping today is a tool of geological investigation, landing site selection and also a visual statement of our ever expanding horizon of discovery. From copper engravings to dynamic online maps, the technique of presenting planetary maps changed a lot.

Surviving a methane monsoon: the bizarre cryogenic rains, flammable dunes and carbon hazes of Saturn's planet-moon, Titan

In this talk, Author/artist Michael Carroll will explore the bizarre methane-filled seas and soaring dunes of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Recent advances in our understanding of this planet-sized moon provide enough information for authors to paint a realistic picture of this truly alien world. Following his presentation, he will be signing his new science fiction adventure/mystery book, "On the Shores of Titan's Farthest Sea".

Exploring the outer Solar System: now in vivid colour

The outer reaches of our Solar System are home to hundreds of thousands of small icy worlds. Their present orbits are a sculpted signature of the early migrations of the giant planets, particularly Neptune. Yet the faintness and highly eccentric orbits of most of these worlds mean only a tiny fraction of them have yet been discovered. With the Outer Solar System Origins Survey on CFHT, we are discovering up to five hundred new outer Solar System objects, with exquisitely well-determined orbital parameters.

The bizarre orbits of minor planets beyond Neptune

The major planets in our solar system are on nearly circular orbits in a well-defined disk plane. The minor planets, however, take very different paths around the sun. Many minor planets are on orbits that tilt 30 degrees or more out of this disk plane; bizarrely, as Dr. Madgian will describe in the talk, they all tilt the same way! Theories for their unusual orbits include the presence of an undetected super-Earth or 'Planet X' at hundreds of AU, or an encounter with a passing star which deposited its own minor planets in our outer solar system.

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