PSAS: The Jupiter polar cyclones as seen by almost 4 years of Juno observations


The NASA spacecraft Juno discovered the circumpolar cyclone structures on Jupiter in 2017, and it has been monitoring their evolution ever since. These cyclones are organized in structures shaped like regular polygons. I will discuss the evolution of these structures as seen by Juno from February 2017 to November 2020  focusing on the data provided by the JIRAM instrument (Jovian InfraRed auroral mapper). Through these observations we have been able to monitor the properties, position and evolution of cyclonic and anticyclonic structures at latitudes above 80° both in the North and South poles of Jupiter.  

Fundamental questions concerning Jovian cyclogenesis concern the formation mechanism and whether these cyclones are deep or shallow structures. JIRAM’s measurements show that any change in a structure is an extremely unlikely event on an annual scale, which has only happened once, and only temporarily in 2019. Neither the merging of two cyclones, nor the disappearing/creation of one stable cyclone has ever been observed. 

Finally, I will discuss recent numerical studies relevant to both Jupiter and Saturn and how their results ‘fit’  JIRAM observations and possible steps forward to solve the deep – shallow conundrum.

Annalisa Bracco, Professor
School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology

Congrats to Mirza Samnani!


We are very proud of Mirza Samnani Georgia Tech Aerospace Engineering graduate student & GT Astrobiology Graduate Certificate Program Candidate, who invented this life-saving robot!

Read his remarkable story here.

PSAS: How to be a Science Advocate


Funding for space science is overwhelmingly provided by government—a product of public policy. Scientists have the ability and the opportunity to participate in the process of setting public policy through both direct and indirect means, such as supporting lobbying efforts by professional scientific organizations. The Planetary Society, a rare example of an independent pro-space nonprofit, actively engages in the process of policy development, working to support space science and exploration investment by the U.S. government. This talk will discuss why space policy is important and how future scientists can be effective space advocates for themselves and their field,

Casey Dreier, Chief Advocate & Senior Space Policy Adviser
The Planetary Society

PSAS: Mars Landing Panel


  • Glenn Lightsey, Professor, Aeronautics Engineering
  • Frances Rivera-Hernandez, Assistant Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • James Wray, Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Co-Investigator, HiRISE & CRISM, MRO
  • Angela Dapremont, PhD Candidate, Planetary Science

Explorigins Colloquium Detailed Schedule


We are excited to present the latest information on our Explorigins colloquium this week as part of Space Science Week @ Tech! See the flyer and schedule below for additional information and a detailed schedule.

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Wed, Feb 17th 5–6 PM (Join here:

    • Poster Session

Thu, Feb 18th, Starting at 10:15 AM (Join here:

    • 10:15—Welcome and Introduction
    • 10:30—Astrobiology graduate certificate ceremony
    • 10:45—Talks, 10 min talk + 5 min discussion
      • Bhanu Kumar (Graduate Student, MATH)
      • Rebecca Guth-Metzler (Graduate Student, CHEM)
      • Abigail Johnson (Graduate Student, OSE)
      • Tony Burnetti (Postdoc, BIO)
    • 11:45—Plenary talk, Prof. Lisa Yaszek (LMC)
    • 12:45—Lunch
    • 1:30—Talks, 15 min talk + 5 min discussion
      • Micah Schiable (Research Scientest, ChBE)
      • Prof. Chris Carr (AE and EAS)

Thu, Feb 18th, Starting at 2:15 PM (Register here:

    • Watch party for the landing of the Perserverance rover on Mars, co-hosted with CSTAR

Note: This event has separate registration.

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Plenary Speaker: Prof. Lisa Yaszek

Talk Title: A Brief History of Astrobiology Science Fiction, 5BCE–Present

Abstract: In this talk, Regents Professor of Science Fiction Studies Dr. Lisa Yaszek demonstrates how science fiction artists anticipate, dramatize, and extend our ideas about astrobiology. After briefly reviewing astrobiology themes in ancient and medieval world literature, Dr. Yaszek explores three aspects of this discipline that fascinate modern scientists and speculative artists alike: exobiology, the origins of life, and planetary habitability. She concludes by considering the increasingly global and self-reflexive nature of recent astrobiology stories across media. 


Bio: Lisa Yaszek is Regents’ Professor of Science Fiction Studies in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech. Her books include Galactic Suburbia: Recovering Women’s Science Fiction (Ohio State, 2008); Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction (Wesleyan 2016); and Literary Afrofuturism in the Twenty-First Century (co-edited with Isiah Lavender III, Ohio State, 2020). Yaszek ideas have been featured in The Washington Post, Food and Wine Magazine, and USA Today, and she has been an expert commentator for the BBC4’s Stranger Than Sci Fi,’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the AMC miniseries James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction. A past president of the Science Fiction Research Association, Yaszek currently serves as a juror for the John W. Campbell and Eugie Foster Science Fiction Awards.

Space Science Week @Tech is here! Join the festivities for the Perseverance Landing!


Welcome to Space Science week at Georgia Tech!  Georgia Tech’s Center for Space Tecnology and Research and the ExplOrigins team–our GT Early career Astrobiology community–are teaming up to bring you a fantastic week of events and information about the Red Planet, and the history and exploration of our solar system.  We’re excited to showcase some of the exciting work being done here at Tech, and help celebrate the landing of NASA’s Perseverance Rover on Mars this Thursday!
Each day, we’ll send out some Mars Minutes to help you get informed and excited for the big events this Wednesday through Friday.  The schedule follows below.

Today’s Mars Minute is a rundown of the Mars 2020 mission and the Perseverance Rove
Every two years, the orbits are right to send a mission to Mars.  With the Mars 2020 mission, the goal is to start the ambitious Mars Sample Return program.  The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA’s quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The rover has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis. Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars. Strapped to the rover’s belly for the journey to Mars is a technology demonstration — the Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, may achieve a “Wright Brothers moment “ by testing the first powered flight on the Red Planet.

Check out the Mars 2020 Mission Trailer here:

Check out details here:

PSAS: Thinking Anthropologically about Astrobiology


The exploration of outer space, and specifically, the astrobiological search for evidence of life, is an endeavor and a science that is made powerful because of its multidisciplinarity. From the NASA HQ archives to the Atacama Desert to (working from home) at NASA Ames to countless conferences, I have had the phenomenal opportunity to see science in action and the creative and critical ways in which scientists engage with the fundamental questions posed by astrobiology. For this talk, I will share stories and data from my ongoing dissertation research in anthropology, outlining the methodological strategies I employ and demonstrating the insights I draw from ethnographic encounters. Based on this, I will share a few lessons learned from over a year of fieldwork and some preliminary conclusions.