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Our Evolving Understanding of the Solar System: New Data, New Ideas
Educational Resources

Downloadable Products
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Discoveries in Planetary Science Slide Sets These slide presentations for use in undergraduate classes cover new discoveries in planetary science. They are available in Spanish and English.
CosmoSparks CosmoSparks reports give quick views of big advances in cosmochemistry, with links to further details.

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It's Raining Comets This artist's conception illustrates a storm of comets around a star near our solar system, in a manner similar to that predicted by the Late Heavy Bombardment hypothesis.

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Why is Pluto Not a Planet Anymore? This largely animated video was produced by Spitzer Space Telescope.
The Pluto Files PBS Video's NOVA produced this show (available online) about the rise and fall of America's favorite planet.
What is a Planet? This question has been pondered since the early Greeks came up with the word "planetes." This video illustrates the history behind the discussion defining what a planet is, and outlines some of the traits that may be associated with its definition.
Late, Late Heavy Bombardment In this presentation at the SETI Institute, Dr. Bottke shows that his results suggest that many "late heavy bombardment" impactors came from an unexpected source, and that they possibly continued to hit Earth, Venus and Mars well after basin formation terminated on the Moon.
The Great Planet Debate: Science as Process A recording of the public debate between Dr. Mark Sykes of the Planetary Science Institute and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson of the American Museum of Natural History during a conference, on the characteristics and criteria used to define and categorize planets.
Late Heavy Bombardment In this recording of a SETI talk, Don Lowe describes the evidence on Earth of a Late Heavy Bombardment and its possible effects on Earth's environment and life.
Inefficient Collisions, Hit-and-Runs, and Splats In the recording of this SETI weekly colloquium, Erik Asphaug discusses modeling of impacts and accretion, and new models on the origin of chondrules by relatively slow collisions between similar-sized molten planetesimals, the origin of the lunar farside highlands by a low-velocity "big splat," and the stripping of mantles from asteroids and planets (for instance Mercury) when they almost but not quite accrete with a larger body.

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The Great Planet Debate Panel Discussions These panel sessions were held during the science conference and educator workshop on the classification of planets.
What's a Planet, Anyway? In this episode of NPR's Science Friday, planetary scientist Mark Sykes argues that a planet should be defined simply as "a round object orbiting a star." Host Ira Flatow talks with him about why that should be, and whether the definition of planet really matters.
The Origins of the Moon How did the Moon form and what can it tell us about the history of our solar system? Lunar scientist Bill Bottke from the Southwest Research Institute, who has been studying the formation history of planetary bodies, discusses the different theories there have been over the years for the Moon's formation, and how our current studies are revealing some secrets about the Moon.
Unsettled Youth: A Chaotic Planetary System During the infancy of our solar system, when our planets had not yet settled down into their orbits, this was a dangerous place to live. The planets wobbled and jostled around left over asteroids, comets and other debris floating in between their orbits, causing frequent collisions throughout our solar system.
Capture of the Sun's Oort Cloud from Stars in Its Birth Cluster AAAS's Science magazine interviews Hal Levinson on the capture of the sun's Oort cloud from stars in its birth cluster.

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Pluto Surface and Atmosphere This animation shows an artist's concept of flying past Pluto.
Solar System Evolution: The Nice Model This video of the Nice Model uploaded by Sky and Telescope shows how the orbits of the outer gaseous planets of our solar system might have evolved. It also explains why and how the late heavy bombardment might have taken place.

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Solar System Ambassadors The Solar System Ambassadors is a nation-wide network of volunteers who are trained to communicate the excitement of NASA's space exploration missions and recent discoveries to people in their local communities.
Museum Alliance The Museum Alliance is a network of museums, science centers, planetariums, observatories, parks, NASA visitor centers, nature centers, zoos, and aquariums that bring current NASA science and technology to their visitors through professional development of their staff and access to NASA staff, content and materials.
Night Sky Network This site can connect you to amateur astronomy clubs, events, a night sky planner, and more.

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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014