The Meteoritical Society is a well established group of scientists and enthusiasts who are devoted to the research of extraterrestrial materials. Including meteorites, and samples that are collected from space missions. The society has been around since 1933, and now has a membership base that boasts members in 33 countries.
They were established in 1933 originally as The Society for Research on Meteorites. And did just that, holding annual meetings under their first president, Frederick C. Leonard. These meetings were suspended during World War II, and when they came back together in 1946 they renamed themselves the Meteoritical Society. Differences in opinion of the future and direction of the society created a lull in growth for many years. But as the space age began, so did memberships, and interest in the planetary science field. Members of specific scientific expertise in mineralogy, isotope geochemistry, and impact dynamics began joining the society, and with such additions, so did the credibility and standing of the society grow.
So what does this society of space lovers do? Well for a few, they catalog all known meteorites, and put them in a database so people can research specific meteorites, and impacts. They also put out a well known and one of the worlds leading planetary science journals Meteoritics and Planetary Science. In addition to these tasks, they also hold meetings and workshops in the planetary science field. And support and encourage young planetary scientists around the world. The society gives out a number of awards each year to outstanding individuals in a variety of topics revolving planetary science, and meteorites.
Sound like something that would interest you? They are open to membership, for anyone. You do not have to be a scientist. Although if you are, this non-profit organization may support you in your research and work. If not though, it is ok, and all you have to do is pay an annual membership fee, that will make you an official member, and get you a subscription to Meteoritics and Planetary Science magazine.
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* http://www.facebook.com/ScienceReason … Science@ESA (Episode 7): Planetary science – Exploring our backyard, the Solar System (Part 2)
In this seventh episode of the Science@ESA vodcast series Rebecca Barnes continues to journey through the wonders of modern astronomy bringing us closer to home as we begin to explore the Solar System. We’ll discover the scale and structure of the Solar System, find out why we explore it and introduce the missions launched on a quest to further investigate our local celestial neighbourhood.
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Planetary science is the scientific study of planets (including Earth), moons, and planetary systems, in particular those of the Solar System and the processes that form them. It studies objects ranging in size from micrometeoroids to gas giants, aiming to determine their composition, dynamics, formation, interrelations and history.
It is a strongly interdisciplinary field, originally growing from astronomy and earth science, but which now incorporates many disciplines, including planetary astronomy, planetary geology (together with geochemistry and geophysics), physical geography (geomorphology and cartography as applied to planets), atmospheric science, theoretical planetary science, and the study of extrasolar planets. Allied disciplines include space physics, when concerned with the effects of the Sun on the bodies of the Solar System, and astrobiology.
There are interrelated observational and theoretical branches of planetary science. Observational research can involve a combination of space exploration, predominantly with robotic spacecraft missions using remote sensing, and comparative, experimental work in Earth-based laboratories. The theoretical component involves considerable computer simulation and mathematical modelling.
Planetary scientists are generally located in the astronomy and physics or earth sciences departments of universities or research centres, though there are several purely planetary science institutes worldwide. There are several major conferences each year, and a wide range of peer-reviewed journals.
The Solar System is made up of the Sun and all of the smaller objects that move around it. Apart from the Sun, the largest members of the Solar System are the eight major planets. Nearest the Sun are four fairly small, rocky planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.
Beyond Mars is the asteroid belt – a region populated by millions of rocky objects. These are left-overs from the formation of the planets, 4.5 billion years ago.
On the far side of the asteroid belt are the four gas giants – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. These planets are much bigger than Earth, but very lightweight for their size. They are mostly made of hydrogen and helium.
Until recently, the furthest known planet was an icy world called Pluto. However, Pluto is dwarfed by Earth’s Moon and many astronomers think it is too small to be called a true planet.
An object named Eris, which is at least as big as Pluto, was discovered very far from the Sun in 2005. More than 1,000 icy worlds such as Eris have been discovered beyond Pluto in recent years. These are called Kuiper Belt Objects. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union decided that Pluto and Eris must be classed as “dwarf planets”.
Even further out are the comets of the Oort Cloud. These are so far away that they are invisible in even the largest telescopes. Every so often one of these comets is disturbed and heads towards the Sun. It then becomes visible in the night sky.
Planetary Science: Exploring The Solar System