Planetesimals Are Buffeted by Wind in their Nebula, Throwing Debris into Space

This artist's illustration shows planetisimals around a young star. New research shows that planetesimals are blasted by headwind, losing debris into space. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Before planets form around a young star, the protosolar disk is populated with innumerable planetesimals. Over time, these planetesimals combine to form planets, and the core accretion theory explains how that happens. But before there are planets, the disk full of planetesimals is a messy place.

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A Perfectly Balanced Rock Seen by Perseverance

NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Right Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mast. This image was acquired on June 12, 2022 (Sol 466) at the local mean solar time of 12:20:39. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

The Perseverance rover has begun exploring a region that looks a little like Monument Valley in Arizona and Utah in the US, or perhaps like a set on an old sci-fi movie. The rover’s science team has nicknamed the area “Hogwallow Flats,” and the rock formations in this area on Mars are stunning in their varied and sometimes absurd shapes and structures. One wonders what took place here eons ago to create the weird variety of formations.

While small, one feature catches the eye:  a smaller rock that appears to be perfectly perched and balanced on top of a larger rock formation.

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There Might Be Dust Devils On Titan Too

Artist's concept of a dust storm on Titan. Credits: IPGP/Labex UnivEarthS/University Paris Diderot – C. Epitalon & S. Rodriguez

Saturn’s moon Titan is alone among the Solar System’s moons. It’s the only one with any atmosphere to speak of. Other moons may have thin, largely insignificant atmospheres, like Ganymede with its potential oxygen atmosphere. But Titan’s atmosphere is dense, and rich in nitrogen.

A new study shows that Titan’s atmosphere and winds might produce dust devils similar to Earth’s.

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