Discoveries in Planetary Science

  • Planetary science is a field that is still evolving rapidly, and it can take several years for new advances to work their way into college textbooks.
  • These slide sets seek to bridge this gap by providing content in the form of 3-slide presentations that can be incorporated into college lectures.
  • The slide sets are targeted at the Introductory Astronomy undergraduate level.
  • Each slide set consists of three slides:
    1. a description of the discovery
    2. a discussion of the underlying science
    3. a presentation of the big picture implications of the discovery

    A fourth slide includes links to associated press releases, images, and primary sources.

  • Topics span all subdisciplines of planetary science

Slide Sets

Released November 2012:
The Man in the Moon: Fate or Coincidence? (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Dwarf Planet Smaller than Originally Thought (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Recent Surface Changes on Mercury? (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Released October 2011:
A Planet Orbiting Two Suns (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Released April 2011:
A Thousand New Planets (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Buried Mars Carbonates (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
The Lunar Core (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Propeller Moons of Saturn (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
A Six-Planet System (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Carbon Dioxide Gullies on Mars (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Released April 2010:
Venus May Have Active Volcanism (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Buried Glaciers at Mars (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
A Sunlit Lake on Titan (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
One Moon (Phoebe) Coats its Neighbor (Iapetus) in Dust (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Possible `Water World’ at 40 Light Years (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Released December 2009:
First Rocky Exoplanet Detected (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Water Found on the Moon (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Another Impact on Jupiter (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
An Ocean Below Enceladus’ Icy Crust? (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Asteroid Detected Before Impact (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Will the World End Before Finals? (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Released April 2009:
Mars Sulfur Cycle (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
The First Images of Exoplanets (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Methane in the Martian Atmosphere (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
The Chaotic Early Solar System (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)
Volcanoes on Mercury (PowerPoint, 1 page, PDF)


This project is supported by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. Slide sets are created by David Brain and Nick Schneider (University of Colorado at Boulder).

Many thanks to the following scientists who helped to review the slide sets before their release: Natalie Batalha, Bill Bottke, Mark Bullock, Joe Burns, Shane Byrne, David Charbonneau, Tilmann Denk, Joe Dufek, Doug Duncan, Bethany Ehlmann, Jonathan Fortney, David Grinspoon, Candy Hansen, Joe Harrington, Jim Head, Jack Holt, Andrew Howard, Brian Hynek, Dana Hurley, Bruce Jakosky, Peter Jenniskens, Paul Kalas, Mark Lewis, Jack Lissauer, Jonathan Lunine, Tom McCollom, Vikki Meadows, Joe Michalski, Alessandro Morbidelli, David Morrison, Glenn Orton, Didier Queloz, Sean Raymond, Samuel Schon, Sara Seager, Amy Simon-Miller, Sue Smrekar, John Spencer, Ellen Stofan, Matt Tiscareno, Dimitri Veras, Renee Weber, Ben Weiss, Don Yeomans, Jim Zimbelman, Oded Aharonson, David Blewett, Mike Brown, Francis Nimmo, and Bruno Sicardy.

We appreciate the translations of the slide sets graciously provided by Pedro Valdes Sada (Spanish) and Karan Molaverdikhani (Farsi), and proofreading of the translations provided by Claudia Knez (Spanish) and Seyyedeh Sona Hosseini and Fatemeh Afshar Ahmadi (Farsi).


For questions, comments, or to submit your discovery for consideration, please contact [email protected].

Planetary scientists with recent or upcoming results of broad interest are encouraged to submit them for consideration by providing an initial draft using this PowerPoint Template.