A NASA mission led by UCLA professor Christopher Russell has released new images of the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest asteroid between Mars and Jupiter.

The photos were produced by the spacecraft Dawn, which is now observing Ceres from 2,700 miles above its surface; NASA has also produced a one-minute video animation that sheds new light on this mysterious and heavily cratered world.


At long last, we are very happy to announce that JPL and UCLA have agreed upon a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) “to enable collaboration in the planetary sciences between UCLA and JPL to promote the stature, visibility, and excellence of the field … by facilitating interactions among scientists and students at both institutions.” There will be a joint signing of the document on May 27th, 2015 at UCLA by UCLA’s Senior Dean Joe Rudnick and JPL’s Chief Scientist Dan McCleese.

To signify this occasion, we are celebrating with a collaborative science workshop from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27th, 2015, at UCLA, which will be capped at 3:00 p.m. by the signing ceremony. This first collaborative meeting under the auspices of the MOU will be of broad planetary scientific scope. This collaborative workshop will include posters and presentations and discussion about planets, exoplanets, small bodies, space physics, and related areas, particularly as pertinent to broadening partnerships between researchers and students at the two institutions.


Professor William Newman was featured recently on National Science Foundation.


The moon does not influence the timing of human births or hospital admissions, according to new research by Margot that confirms what scientists have known for decades. The study illustrates how intelligent and otherwise reasonable people develop strong beliefs that, to put it politely, are not aligned with reality.


The UCLA Meteorite Gallery, California’s largest collection of meteorites, has added two large iron meteorites — and both may be touched by the public. Admission to the gallery is free. One of the new meteorites is now the largest in Los Angeles. Weighing 811 pounds, it is more than twice the size of what had been the gallery’s largest meteorite. It was found in Namibia, and is being displayed thanks to a long-term loan by UCLA alumnus Peter Utas and his wife, Barbara Broide.


An international team of scientists, led by EPSS Professor Schopf, has discovered the greatest absence of evolution ever reported — a type of deep-sea microorganism that appears not to have evolved over more than 2 billion years. But the researchers say that the organisms’ lack of evolution actually supports Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The findings are published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Sarah Stamps has just published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters which discusses present-day continental extension along the East African Rift System (EARS). It has often been attributed to diverging sublithospheric mantle flow associated with the African Superplume. This implies a degree of viscous coupling between mantle and lithosphere that remains poorly constrained. Recent advances in estimating present-day opening rates along the EARS from geodesy offer an opportunity to address this issue with geodynamic modeling of the mantle-lithosphere system. Here we use numerical models of the global mantle-plates coupled system to test the role of present-day mantle flow in Nubia-Somalia plate divergence across the EARS. The scenario yielding the best fit to geodetic observations is one where torques associated with gradients of gravitational potential energy stored in the African highlands are resisted by weak continental faults and mantle basal drag. These results suggest that shear tractions from diverging mantle flow play a minor role in present-day Nubia-Somalia divergence.