Hidden Ice Found on Mercury!

Who says Mercury’s too hot to be really cool? Even three times closer to the Sun than we are, lacking atmosphere and with scorching daytime temperatures of 425 ºC (800 ºF), Mercury still has places more than cold enough to hide ice. This is the most recent announcement from the MESSENGER mission team: (very nearly) confirmed…

Dione in Color

Although made mostly of ice and rock, Saturn’s moon Dione (pronounced DEE-oh-nee) does have some color to it — although mostly chilly hues of steel blue, as seen in this color-composite made from raw images acquired by Cassini on July 23.

Ancient Ice Found in a Frigid Lunar Crater

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has found water ice lining a deep crater located on the Moon’s south pole — as much as 22% of the surface material of the crater appears to be composed of ice, NASA and university scientists report.

Evidence of Lakes Beneath Europa’s Ice

New research on Jupiter’s ice-covered moon Europa indicates the presence of a subsurface lake buried beneath frozen mounds of huge jumbled chunks of ice. While it has long been believed that Europa’s ice lies atop a deep underground ocean, these new findings support the possibility of large pockets of liquid water being much closer to…

A Fan of Shadows

Cassini captured this visible-light image on October 16, 2010, showing a thick clump of icy material in Saturn’s bright F ring casting a “fan” of thin shadows. Clumps like this have been seen many times before and may be caused by the gravitational effects of passing shepherd moons like Prometheus or as-of-yet undiscovered moonlets within the ropy…

Icy Spiders

  Near Mars’ polar regions, spidery cracks and crevasses in the surface hold the last remnants of the winter season’s carbon dioxide frost – a.k.a. “dry ice” – which will eventually evaporate into the Martian atmosphere as CO2 gas. This process is seen on Earth only in specialized manmade situations such as when used as…

Is Mercury Hiding Water Ice?

  A new image from MESSENGER showing craters amidst smooth plains. Acquired March 29, 2011.   A new image from MESSENGER, released today March 30, 2011, shows relatively smooth plains near Mercury’s north pole dotted by some relatively large craters. Seen at an oblique angle, the low angle of sunlight emphasizes the relief of the…

From the LITD Archives: No Such Thing as Global Warming?

Originally posted April 22, 2009 Tell that to the Wilkins Ice Shelf. At least 10,000 years old, the 1/3 mile wide span of ice that linked Antarctica to nearby Charcot Island broke apart on April 5, 2009, as expected by scientists watching worldwide. This collapse opens a path for icebergs from the rest of the…

The Valley So High

This beautiful landscape scene may be reminiscent of sandy deserts on Earth but it’s actually a valley slicing into the frozen ice of Mars’ north pole as seen by NASA’s Mars Odyssey, soon to become the longest-operating spacecraft on or around the red planet. The image above was created from several images taken by Odyssey’s…

Spaceballs!

Holy interplanetary snowstorm! This image, a focused (“deconvolved”) view of comet Hartley 2 which was approached by NASA’s EPOXI spacecraft on November 4, shows a swarm of specks surrounding an ice-spraying, boulder-crusted nucleus. Those specks aren’t stars, they’re golfball- to basketball-sized balls of loosely-packed ice particles… a.k.a snowballs! And comet Hartley-2 is literally surrounded by them…

Breaking the Ice

Here’s a look at the frozen crater Cilix, a rare ice-filled dent in the scoured and resurfaced face of Europa. Taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1998, this image has been reassembled from raw data and color-calibrated by Gordan Ugarkovic to highlight the surface detail of this fascinating frozen cueball of a moon. Covered by…

An Icy Crescent

A color-composite image of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, assembled from RGB raw image data recorded by Cassini on July 4, 2010. The moon’s heavily textured and highly-reflective icy terrain is nicely accentuated by the low angle of sunlight. The Cassini spacecraft was over 104,000 miles from Enceladus when the images were taken. Image: NASA/JPL/SSI. Edited by…