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…

Are There “Aliens” in our Solar System?

No, I don’t mean little grey men in hard candy-shaped ships, I mean natural objects that have origins from outside of our own Solar System—small worlds that formed around a different star. It’s entirely possible that objects can be ejected from a star system and find their way into orbit around another, or even gravitationally…

Saturn Seen Through Titan’s Hazy Atmosphere

Here’s a view of the upper limb of Saturn seen through the atmosphere of its largest moon Titan. It’s a color-composite of images captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on March 31, 2005 as it passed just 7,500 kilometers (4,660 miles) from Titan. Saturn was 1.2 million kilometers (745,000 miles) away from Cassini at the time.

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…

Why Are Pluto’s Moons So Weird?

(Updated post from 2016) Whether you call it a planet, a dwarf planet, or a Kuiper Belt or Trans-Neptunian Object—or all of the above—there’s no denying that Pluto and its family of moons are true curiosities in the Solar System. Not only does little Pluto have one moon, Charon, that’s so massive in comparison that they…

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…

Happy Opposition Day!

It’s Opposition Day! No, that’s not a political stance but rather a geometric one, relating to the positions of Earth, the Sun, and Mars in the Solar System. Today our neighboring planet Mars will be directly opposite the Sun relative to Earth, which will make it the second-brightest “star” in the night sky after Venus….

ESA Finds Liquid Water on Mars

Water has been found on Mars! (Yes, again.) In what’s turned into the biggest space news of the day, today ESA (and that’s pronounced “eesa”, you don’t need to spell it out) announced that the Italian-run radar experiment aboard its Mars Express orbiter has provided the first good evidence of liquid water present beneath the…