Ganymede’s Polar Ice is ‘Disrupted’ by Jupiter’s Plasma

The first-ever infrared images of Ganymede’s north pole, taken on December 26, 2019 with the JIRAM instrument aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft, show that the gigantic moon’s polar ice lacks any crystalline structure like the water ice we’re familiar with typically does here on Earth. This is a result of constant bombardment by charged plasma in…

Ice Hunt on the Moon Reveals Hidden Heavy Metal

Our beautiful Moon, serenely circling our world as it illuminates our evenings and tugs at our tides, is thought to have been born from a violent and catastrophic collision between a freshly-formed Earth and a Mars-sized wayward protoplanet almost four and a half billion years ago. This “giant impact hypothesis” is generally accepted because it…

Uranus is Full of Diamonds (and so is Neptune)

The conditions found deep inside the ice giants Uranus and Neptune are intense and exotic, to say the least. The incredibly frigid and windy environments found at the cloud tops, where hydrogen and helium are mixed with methane and ammonia, eventually give way to warmer interiors and crushing pressures with increasing depth. And as scientists…

Neptune-sized Planet Found Around a Baby Star 32 Light-years Away

Astronomers using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and data from the now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope  have announced the discovery of a Neptune-sized exoplanet orbiting AU Microscopii (AU Mic for short), a red M-dwarf star 31.93 light-years away and only about 20 to 30 million years old. The star is so young that it’s still…

Thousands of Black Holes Surround the Heart of our Galaxy

(From NASA’s Image of the Day, June 19, 2020) Astronomers have discovered evidence for thousands of black holes located near the center of our Milky Way galaxy using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This black hole bounty consists of stellar-mass black holes, which typically weigh between five to 30 times the mass of our Sun….

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…

New Horizons is Far Enough from Earth to See an “Alien Sky”

(News from JHUAPL) For the first time, a spacecraft has sent back pictures of the sky from so far away that some stars appear to be in different positions than we see from Earth. More than four billion miles from home and speeding toward interstellar space, NASA’s New Horizons has traveled so far that it…

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.”…

NGC 6441: One of the Milky Way’s Most Massive Star Clusters

(NASA’s image of the day on June 5, 2020) Almost like snowflakes, the stars of the globular cluster NGC 6441 sparkle peacefully in the night sky, about 13,000 light-years from the Milky Way’s galactic center. Like snowflakes, the exact number of stars in such a cluster is difficult to discern. It is estimated that together…

Hypothesized First-Gen Stars Remain Unseen in Hubble Deep Views

(News from NASA) New results from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope suggest the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the early universe took place sooner than previously thought. A European team of astronomers have found no evidence of the first generation of stars, known as Population III stars, as far back as when…