This is the First Picture Taken on the Moon

At 18:45:30 UTC on February 3, 1966 the Soviet Luna 9 spacecraft made the first successful robotic soft landing on the Moon. Seven hours later it began to transmit images from the lunar surface down to Earth. The image above comprise the first two frames of the first of three panoramas captured by Luna 9’s cycloramic…

Earth and Moon as Seen from Mars

This is an image of Earth and the Moon captured from Mars by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) aboard NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor on May 8, 2003. It was the first time an image had been captured from another planet—i.e., by a spacecraft in orbit—showing both bodies as discernible planetary disks, in phases. At that time Mars…

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…

NASA CubeSat Will Shine a Laser Light on the Moon’s Darkest Craters

(Via NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory | JPL) To support the next wave of human exploration, the Lunar Flashlight mission will look for potential ice hidden at the Moon’s South Pole. As astronauts explore the Moon during the Artemis program, they may need to make use of the resources that already exist on the lunar surface….

Newly Reprocessed Images of Europa Show ‘Chaos Terrain’ in Crisp Detail

(Via NASA) The surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa features a widely varied landscape, including ridges, bands, small rounded domes and disrupted spaces that geologists call “chaos terrain.” Three newly reprocessed images, taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s, reveal details in diverse surface features on Europa. Although the data captured by Galileo is…

How Government Geologists Recreated the Moon in Flagstaff, Arizona

From July 1969 to December 1972 the astronauts of NASA’s Apollo missions explored the alien landscape of the lunar surface, flag-planting, kangaroo-hopping, shuffling, digging, and Grand Prix-roving across six sites on the Moon. In order to prepare for their off-world adventures though, they needed extensive practice here on Earth so they would be ready to execute the…

Double Moon: Debunked

In what seems to be a newly-evolved form of the 15-year-old Mars Hoax people have recently been asking me about a “double Moon” that they heard is supposed to occur. I hadn’t come across it myself (maybe because I follow too much *actual* science news) but it sounded suspiciously familiar and, now being August, I figured…

NASA Releases Thousands of Hours of Apollo 11 Tapes

You’ve undoubtedly heard many times over the historic words uttered by Neil Armstrong when the Apollo 11 LM Eagle touched down in the Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969 and when he stepped off the ladder onto the Moon’s dusty, desolate surface later that same day, but the success of the Apollo 11 mission…

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…

Meet Metis – Jupiter’s Closest, Quickest Moon

Everyone’s heard of Jupiter’s four most famous moons Europa, Io, Callisto, and Ganymede—we’ve known about them for over 400 years, thanks to Galileo—but giant Jupiter has many more moons than that. To date there are thought to be 79 natural satellites orbiting Jupiter. So you’d be forgiven for not being immediately familiar with all of…

ESA Grabs Glimpses of Mars’ Groovy Moon

This animation is comprised of three images acquired by ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft on Sept. 12, 2017 with its High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC). It shows parts of the grooved and pitted surface of Phobos, the larger of Mars’ two natural satellites. The original images were captured in greyscale; I added color based on other…