A Naked Titan Revealed by 13 Years of Cassini Data

Saturn’s largest moon Titan boasts the distinction of being the only moon in the solar system to have a thick atmosphere…so thick, in fact, that its surface is perpetually hidden from our view—but not from the view of the Cassini spacecraft’s infrared cameras! Cassini, now over ten months gone after its Sept. 2017 plunge into…

The Horsehead Nebula Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

Holy Horsehead, Batman! You’ve probably seen photos of the famous Horsehead nebula in Orion many times before, but NOTHING like this! Astronomers have used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to photograph the iconic Horsehead Nebula in a new, infrared light to mark the 23rd anniversary of the famous observatory’s launch aboard the space shuttle Discovery on…

Getting WISE to asteroids

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer – WISE – has recently finished a survey of small bodies in our solar system. The survey mission, called NEOWISE (for Near Earth Objects), used WISE’s infrared-imaging capabilities to identify 20 new comets and more than 33,000 main-belt asteroids. WISE also spotted 134 near-Earth objects – asteroids or comets that…

Inside the Hurricane

The largest storm in the solar system, Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot, is a monstrous 15,000-mile-wide hurricane that’s been swirling in the giant planet’s mid-lower latitudes for at least 300 years. It’s believed that the storm’s colors are caused by the different elements within Jupiter’s upper atmosphere… ammonia, methane, water, hydrocarbons and other chemicals that create a…

The Oceans of Venus?

It’s hard to imagine, with its pressure-cooked 800º baked-rock surface, but Venus may have once had oceans, suggests data from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter. Extensive infrared mapping of Venus’ southern hemisphere shows large areas of rock that appears to be granite. Granite, as we know it on Earth, is formed when basalt…