Planetary Poetry

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Planetary Poetry

Planetary scientists may see many descriptions this week that are similar to this one:

Return to Mimas
Blow up the Death Star (moon) and
Find hidden oceans.

That’s from a presentation about one of Saturn’s moons by Adeene Denton and colleagues at last year’s Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas. It’s become a tradition for scientists to provide a simple description of their work as haiku. The conference has even held a contest for the best one. The winner in 2022 came from Benjamin Boatright, in a presentation about Mars:

Pitted crater floors:
Places permeated by
Perplexing pingos?

The first haiku was penned in 2001, by Allan Tremain, about a new instrument:

Bright leaves on dark sky:
Beyond the brilliant rainbow,
Vision fades away.

Others followed his lead the next year, and the approach caught on. This year’s conference starts today, and attendees can expect to see haiku in the descriptions of hundreds of presentations.

And some scientists have branched into other forms of poetry. Last year, for example, a team led by Jon Roberts described some work about another moon of Saturn with a limerick:

Induction and sounding and tides
Will get at Europa’s insides
These techniques are superior
To probe the interior
And explore where life might reside.

Tomorrow: Looking for color in the stars.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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