Proposed Trident Mission Could Explore Neptune’s Moon Triton in 2038

(News from NASA) Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to have flown past Neptune, and it left a lot of unanswered questions. The views were as stunning as they were puzzling, revealing massive, dark plumes of icy material spraying out from Triton‘s surface. But how? Images showed that the icy landscape was young and…

Mars Odyssey Orbiter Takes Moon Phobos’ Temperature

(News from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) Three new views of the Martian moon Phobos have been captured by NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter. Taken this past winter and this spring, they capture the moon as it drifts into and out of Mars’ shadow. Combined with three previous images, these observations represent waxing, waning and full views…

Titan is Drifting Away from Saturn Much Faster than We Thought

Recent research using data acquired by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft reveals that Titan is moving away from Saturn at a much faster rate than previously thought. How fast? Read on… “This result brings an important new piece of the puzzle for the highly-debated question of the age of the Saturn system and how its moons formed.”…

Mars May Have Repeatedly Been a Ringed Planet

(News from SETI) Scientists from the SETI Institute and Purdue University have found that the only way to produce Deimos’s unusually tilted orbit is for Mars to have had a ring billions of years ago. While some of the more massive planets in our solar system have giant rings and numerous big moons, Mars only…

New Theory Emerges on the Formation of Jupiter’s Galilean Moons

(From Caltech) During the first few million years of our sun’s lifetime it was surrounded by a protoplanetary disk made up of gas and dust. Jupiter coalesced from this disk and became encircled by its own disk of satellite-building material. This “circum-Jovian disk” was fed by material from the sun’s protoplanetary disk that rained down…

Enceladus Sprays its Ocean Into Space as it Awaits Our Return

Saturn’s 320-mile-wide moon Enceladus sprays its interior ocean into space in this picture, a color-composite made from images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on November 30, 2010 from the moon’s night side. The original images were captured in visible light filters and the result has been subjectively adjusted for contrast and saturation. South is pointed…

More Evidence for Plumes of Water on Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa

All those worlds may be ours except Europa but that doesn’t make the ice-covered moon of Jupiter any less intriguing. Beneath Europa’s crisscrossed crust lies a tantalizing ocean somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 kilometers deep—which adds up to more liquid water than on the entire surface of the Earth. Liquid water plus a heat source(s) to keep it…

Phobos Will Eventually Become a Ring Around Mars

Phobos, Mars’ largest moon — although at just 16 miles wide still quite small — is slowly but steadily being torn apart by the gravitational pull of Mars… and it bears the scars to prove it. Long parallel grooves seen wrapping around the surface of Phobos are most likely stress fractures, visible evidence of the tidal forces…

Miranda Just Looks All Wrong

This is a mosaic of Uranus’ moon Miranda made from images acquired by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft on January 25, 1986. Color added as an approximation to natural color (from what I could determine online.) The incredible ~20km-high Verona Rupes cliff can be seen at lower left along the moon’s limb. The rest of the…