Planetary science articles within Nature Physics


  • Article |

    An analysis of images from the Juno spacecraft reveals dynamics at high latitudes that are reminiscent of the generation of frontal structures in Earth’s atmosphere and oceans.

    • Lia Siegelman
    •  & Patrice Klein
  • News & Views |

    Determining the melting temperature and electrical conductivity of ammonia under the internal conditions of the ice giants Uranus and Neptune is helping us to understand the structure and magnetic field formation of these planets.

    • Kenji Ohta
  • News & Views |

    Tides not only affect ocean dynamics but also influence the Earth’s magnetosphere. Satellite observations have now revealed evidence of tidal effects in the Earth’s plasmasphere correlated with Moon phases.

    • Balázs Heilig
  • News & Views |

    The atmospheres of most planets in our Solar System have a single large cyclonic vortex at each of their poles. Jupiter with its polygonal cyclones surrounding a single one, however, falls out of line, owing to an energy transfer to larger scales.

    • Agustín Sánchez-Lavega
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Infrared images of Jupiter taken by the Juno spacecraft reveal an energy transfer driven by moist convection. This mechanism is expected to enhance heat transfer, which might also be relevant to Earth’s atmosphere.

    • Lia Siegelman
    • , Patrice Klein
    •  & Giuseppe Sindoni
  • News & Views |

    At high pressure and temperature, water forms two crystalline phases, known as hot ‘black’ ices due to their partial opaqueness. A detailed characterization of these phases may explain magnetic field formation in giant icy planets like Neptune.

    • Simone Anzellini
  • Article |

    Measurements of the phase diagram of water reveal first-order phase transitions to face- and body-centred cubic superionic ice phases. The former is suggested to be present in the interior of ice giant planets.

    • Vitali B. Prakapenka
    • , Nicholas Holtgrewe
    •  & Alexander F. Goncharov
  • Article |

    Superionic water is believed to exist in the interior of ice giant planets. By combining machine learning and free-energy methods, the phase behaviours of water at the extreme pressures and temperatures prevalent in such planets are predicted.

    • Bingqing Cheng
    • , Mandy Bethkenhagen
    •  & Sebastien Hamel
  • News & Views |

    Planets are assembled from the ground up, beginning with millimetre-sized interstellar dust grains. Microgravity experiments suggest that centimetre-sized dust aggregates form from these smaller grains via collisional charging.

    • Katherine Follette
  • Article |

    In our understanding of planetary formation, it is still unclear how millimetre-sized dust grains grow into centimetre-sized aggregates. Microgravity experiments now show that electrical charging of the grains leads to the formation of larger clumps.

    • Tobias Steinpilz
    • , Kolja Joeris
    •  & Gerhard Wurm
  • Measure for Measure |

    Tell Bartolo Luque and Fernando Ballesteros how far the Sun is from the Earth, and they will tell you the size of the Universe.

    • Bartolo Luque
    •  & Fernando J. Ballesteros
  • Research Highlight |

    • Stefanie Reichert
  • Editorial |

    A careful analysis of data obtained from the IceCube telescope in Antarctica shows that atmospheric neutrinos can be used as a tomographic probe of the Earth.

  • News & Views |

    Using data from the IceCube telescope, a study presents the first attempt at obtaining geophysical information about Earth’s internal structure from the flux of neutrinos that pass through it.

    • Véronique Van Elewyck
  • Letter |

    Geophysical properties of the Earth’s interior have been inferred by looking at the absorption of neutrinos as they pass through our planet.

    • Andrea Donini
    • , Sergio Palomares-Ruiz
    •  & Jordi Salvado
  • Article |

    Wind-mediated ripples form on a centimetre scale in sand, and in dunes on a scale spanning tens of metres, but patterns on intermediate scales are rare. A theory now fills the gap by predicting megaripples, which resemble structures seen on Mars.

    • Marc Lämmel
    • , Anne Meiwald
    •  & Klaus Kroy
  • Letter
    | Open Access

    The effect of blackbody radiation is expected to be very weak. The acceleration due to the attractive optical forces from blackbody radiation is measured in an atom interferometer and, surprisingly, it dominates gravity and radiation pressure

    • Philipp Haslinger
    • , Matt Jaffe
    •  & Holger Müller
  • Research Highlights |

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • Editorial |

    As we celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, there is plenty to look back on and even more to look forward to.

  • Commentary |

    This year, NASA's Dawn and New Horizons rendezvoused with Ceres and Pluto, respectively. These worlds, despite their modest sizes, have much to teach us about the accretion of the Solar System and its dynamical evolution.

    • William B. McKinnon
  • News & Views |

    Granular charging can create some spectacular interactions, but gravity obscures our ability to observe and understand them. A neat desktop experiment circumvents this problem, shining a light on granular clustering — and perhaps even planet formation.

    • Frank Spahn
    •  & Martin Seiβ
  • News & Views |

    The Rosetta orbiter following Comet 67P has captured not only the public imagination but also actual dust grains from the comet's nucleus, revealing their composition, morphology and strength.

    • David Jewitt
  • Futures |

    Chance encounter.

    • John Frizell
  • Editorial |

    ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has begun the next phase of its ambitious mission to land a probe on the nucleus of a comet, and ride with the comet towards the Sun.

  • News & Views |

    When the atmospheric surface pressure is just right, a temperature difference can drive a continuous flow of rarefied gas through the soil matrix — a previously unrecognized process on Mars.

    • Norbert Schörghofer
  • Letter |

    Microgravity experiments on a dust bed in a ‘drop tower’ set-up reveal the ability of martian soil to act as an efficient gas pump when heated by the Sun.

    • Caroline de Beule
    • , Gerhard Wurm
    •  & Jens Teiser