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Cassini's Ringside Seat
06/07/2010

Cassini's Ringside Seat

Linda Doran

Saturn's rings aren't just planetary bling—they have a lot to teach us about how solar systems could coalesce from disks of debris orbiting other stars. For the last six years, a school bus–sized spacecraft named Cassini has been orbiting Saturn, sending back astonishing pictures of the rings and the moons that help shape them. The more closely we look, the more complex things get. 

Caltech-Led Team First to Directly Measure Body Temperatures of Extinct Vertebrates
05/24/2010

Caltech-Led Team First to Directly Measure Body Temperatures of Extinct Vertebrates

Lori Oliwenstein

Questions about when, why, and how vertebrates stopped relying on external factors to regulate their body temperatures and began heating themselves internally have long intrigued scientists. Now, a team led by researchers at Caltech has taken a critical step toward providing some answers. They describe the first method for the direct measurement of the body temperatures of large extinct vertebrates—through the analysis of rare isotopes in the animals' bones, teeth, and eggshells.

Aseismic Slip as a Barrier to Earthquake Propagation
05/05/2010

Aseismic Slip as a Barrier to Earthquake Propagation

Lori Oliwenstein

A research team made up of scientists from Caltech and their partners in Peru and France report on their analysis of GPS data from the 2007 Pisco quake in Peru. They found, in part, that 50 percent of the postseismic slippage is aseismic—movement along a fault that occurs without any accompanying seismic waves.

 

Diving for Microbes
03/26/2010

Diving for Microbes

Marcus Woo

Caltech scientists are diving into the sea to study methane-eating microbes. A thousand meters deep on the sea floor, with no light and little oxygen, these critters sustain an entire ecosystem. The researchers are learning that the bugs support life on Earth, preventing methane—a greenhouse gas—from further warming the planet and ensuring the global flow of nutrients. Sharing DNA with the first lifeforms, they may reveal something about Earth’s history.

Elementary School Students Tour Caltech's Tectonics Observatory and Seismo Lab
03/18/2010

Elementary School Students Tour Caltech's Tectonics Observatory and Seismo Lab

Sixty sixth graders from Hamilton Elementary School in Pasadena recently visited campus to tour of Caltech's Tectonics Observatory and Seismological Laboratory.

 

 

Caltech Receives More than $33 Million from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
02/24/2010

Caltech Receives More than $33 Million from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Jon Weiner

Research in genomic sciences, astronomy, seismology, and neuroeconomics are some of the many projects being funded at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Watson Lecture: Creating Laboratory Earthquakes
02/15/2010

Watson Lecture: Creating Laboratory Earthquakes

Deborah Williams-Hedges

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have demonstrated that high-speed intersonic ruptures exist and could occur during the next major earthquake. The researchers now have the ability to create laboratory earthquakes of varying force and magnitudes that mimic actual quakes.  By triggering laboratory earthquakes, researchers can study the behavior of quakes and their potential force and destructiveness—without a real quake actually occurring.

Caltech Astronomer Spots Second Smallest Exoplanet
01/13/2010

Caltech Astronomer Spots Second Smallest Exoplanet

Kathy Svitil

Astronomers from Caltech and other institutions, using the highly sensitive 10-meter Keck I telescope atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea, have detected an extrasolar planet with a mass just four times that of Earth. The planet, which orbits its parent star HD156668 about once every four days, is the second-smallest world among the more than 400 exoplanets (planets located outside our solar system) that have been found to date.

Caltech Scientists Discover Fog on Titan
12/17/2009

Caltech Scientists Discover Fog on Titan

Kathy Svitil

Saturn's largest moon, Titan, looks to be the only place in the solar system—aside from our home planet, Earth—with copious quantities of liquid (largely, liquid methane and ethane) sitting on its surface. According to Caltech planetary astronomer Mike Brown, Earth and Titan share yet another feature, which is inextricably linked with that surface liquid: common fog. 

Caltech Scientists Explain Puzzling Lake Asymmetry on Titan
11/29/2009

Caltech Scientists Explain Puzzling Lake Asymmetry on Titan

Kathy Svitil

Researchers at Caltech suggest that the eccentricity of Saturn's orbit around the sun may be responsible for the unusually uneven distribution of lakes over the northern and southern polar regions of the planet's largest moon, Titan. A paper describing the theory appears in the November 29th advance online edition of Nature Geoscience