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Byline: Blaine Friedlander

capsule approaches a red planet
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Provided Illustration of the spacecraft containing NASA’s Perseverance rover


Raring to rove: Perseverance lands on Mars

Cornell researchers spent the eight months since launch preparing for the craft's landing Feb. 18.
Pencil drawing of a fort, seen from above
National Park Service Russian Commander Iurii Lisianskii’s 1804 outline drawing of the Tlingit fort used to defend against Russia’s colonization forces. Cornell and U.S. National Park Service researchers have pinpointed the fort’s exact location in Sitka, Alaska.


Historic Alaskan Tlingit 1804 battle fort site found

Cornell and National Park Service researchers found the fort using geophysical imaging techniques and ground-penetrating radar.
Bright gold sea with mountains in distance
NASA/John Glenn Research Center An artistic rendering of Kraken Mare, the large liquid methane sea on Saturn’s moon Titan.


Astronomers estimate Titan’s largest sea is 1,000 feet deep

Cornell astronomers have estimated that Kraken Mare, a sea of liquid methane on Saturn's largest moon, is at least 1,000 feet deep near its center.
 dense, gray swirls on the surface of a planet


NASA extends Cornell-involved Juno, InSight missions

NASA’s Juno spacecraft – currently orbiting Jupiter, flying close approaches to the planet and then out into the realm of the Jovian moons – and the InSight lander, now perched in Mars’ equatorial region, have both received mission extensions, the space agency announced Jan. 8. Cornell astronomers serve key roles on both projects.

 Illustration of Earth on dark blue background


Astronomers find possible hints of low-frequency gravitational waves

An international team of astronomers – including 17 Cornellians – report they have found the first faint, low-frequency whispers that may be gravitational waves from gigantic, colliding black holes in distant galaxies. The findings were obtained from more than 12.5 years of data collected from the national radio telescopes at Green Bank, West Virginia, and the recently collapsed dish at the Arecibo Observatory, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
 Bright yellow star with a small, dark planet


Researchers detect possible exoplanet radio emission

The team has already begun a campaign using multiple radio telescopes to follow up on the signal.
 Large concrete dish set in lush hills


NSF to decommission Cornell-designed Arecibo telescope

The large Cornell-designed telescopic “ear” at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, which listened for the enlightening crackle of the cosmos for nearly six decades, now hears silence.

 ice berg


Engineer to model sunshine deflection for cooling planet

Global warming reduction may someday get a cool new tool: climate engineering.

 Arid land, hill in the background


Clay subsoil at Earth’s driest place may signal life on Mars

Earth’s most arid desert may hold a key to finding life on Mars.

Diverse microbes discovered in the clay-rich, shallow soil layers in Chile’s dry Atacama Desert suggest that similar deposits below the Martian surface may contain microorganisms, which could be easily found by future rover missions or landing craft.

 Screen shot showing four people


In election’s waning days, panel sees hope for democracy

Amid the clatter in the days before the presidential election – the long lines at early polls, racial strife, street protests, political ad skirmishes and the streaming patter of television punditry – three College of Arts and Sciences professors offered a bright light at the end of the 2020 tunnel: hope for democracy.

 Close up of a spider with two large black eyes


Buzz kill: Spiders ‘hear’ airborne prey via their legs

"These spiders have finely tuned sensory systems and a fascinating hunting strategy."
 Hand placing ballot in box


‘Democracy Contested?’ forum panel to meet online Oct. 29

As the frenzied 2020 presidential campaign reaches culmination, the nation’s media, political parties and courts brace for a possible contested outcome. But in the United States and around the world, heated national elections are nothing new.

 Planet in foreground, bright star beyond


Smile, wave: Some exoplanets may be able to see us, too

Three decades after Cornell astronomer Carl Sagan suggested that Voyager 1 snap Earth’s picture from billions of miles away – resulting in the iconic Pale Blue Dot photograph – two astronomers now offer another unique cosmic perspective:

 Lea Bonnefoy


Postdoc honored by L’Oreal, UN for innovative research

Lea Bonnefoy ’15, a Cornell postdoctoral researcher in astronomy who will soon examine NASA mission landing spots on the Saturnian moon Titan, has been awarded a 2020 L’Oréal-United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Young Talents France Prize For Women in Science.

Bonnefoy, who was among 20 doctoral candidates and 15 post-doctoral researchers in all selected to represent France, was recognized in the physical chemistry category.

 Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking at a podium


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 dies

Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54, whose legal career in the fight for women’s rights, equal rights and human dignity culminated with her ascent to the U.S. Supreme Court, and who – as an octogenarian – became a cultural hero and arguably the most beloved justice in American history, died Sept. 18 in Washington, D.C. She was 87.

Ginsburg died from complications of cancer, according to a statement from the Supreme Court.

 Illustration of a six-wheeled machine on dry, red terrain


Study shows difficulty in finding evidence of life on Mars

In a little more than a decade, samples of rover-scooped Martian soil will rocket to Earth.

While scientists are eager to study the red planet’s soils for signs of life, researchers must ponder a considerable new challenge: Acidic fluids – which once flowed on the Martian surface – may have destroyed biological evidence hidden within Mars’ iron-rich clays, according to researchers at Cornell and at Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología.

 Dark clouds with flashes of light


Ammonia sparks unexpected, exotic lightning on Jupiter

Jupiter’s lightning occurs not only deep within water clouds, but also in shallow atmospheric regions.
 Drawing of a small helicoptor flying through an orange landscape


Cornellians help NASA zoom in on red planet

Mars is about to become a little more red, thanks to the Cornellians who helped develop and calibrate instruments soon bound for the planet.

Early on July 30, the NASA/Jet Propulsion Lab’s Mars 2020 spacecraft will roar away from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, bound for Earth’s rusty red neighbor.

 Two white orbs on a blue background


Milky Way neutron star pair illuminates cosmic cataclysms

A pair of binary neutron stars is giving researchers a front-row seat at what they believe will be the stars’ eventual cataclysmic merger.