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…

Surprising Structures Discovered at the Bottom of Uranus

Out in the depths of our solar system, about 1.8 billion miles away from the Sun somewhere between the planets Saturn and far-flung Neptune, orbits the oddball ice giant Uranus – a frigid, thinly-ringed world tipped almost completely on its side and shrouded in both mystery and pale blue-green clouds. Aside from the occasional bright storm clouds…

Desert Planet

Can’t see the video below? Click here. Here’s the most recent HiClip – a collection of images from the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, assembled and set to music by the HiRISE imaging team at the University of Arizona. These recent images show some fascinating desert-type terrain across Mars, resembling Earth deserts except…

The World with the Dragon Tattoo

A serpentine shape twists across the floor and walls of a canyon on Mars, suggesting the form of a dragon snaking across a clouded sky. This image from the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows light-colored material deposited onto the darker-toned surface, possibly through a flow of some sort, in a corner…

When the Wind Blows

A huge 800-plus-foot-wide dust devil swirls across the parched plains of Mars in this image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera. Heading westward when the image was taken, it casts a tall diffuse shadow toward the northeast. This photo is part of a study of the knobby surface texture of the region in the…

An “Outie” Crater

This image from the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows an “inverted” crater within an ice-rich debris apron just south of a mountain on Mars. Ice deposits beneath and within the soil – recently discovered using ground-penetrating radar – cause the terrain to move, distorting the landforms within it over time. As the…

Let’s Go Streaking

Streaks of swirling pastel colors mark eroded, windswept bedrock within a large crater on Mars in this HiRISE image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The enhanced colors highlight the differences in surface texture…the original RGB image in approximate true-color can be seen here. The full map-projected enhanced color image of the region can be found…

An Icy Web

  The veinous texture seen here is part of the south polar region on Mars, imaged by the HiRISE hi-resolution camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Receding carbon dioxide ice, melting during the ongoing spring months, creating the polygonal shapes separated by sinuous ridges. This is known as “spider” terrain. The dark marks are caused…

Off the Hook

  These oddly-shaped landforms reside on the south polar region of Mars, an area rich in carbon-dioxide frost…aka dry ice. These embryonic features develop fairly rapidly and then erode back into the icy surface at a rate of about 15 feet per year. Click for a wider angle view of the region. (Looks like spilled…

A Tangled Web

  Criscrossing the south polar region of Mars, cracks and ridges line the frozen ground, broken by the occasional spray of dark material spewed by a geyser of released subsurface gases. These lines are referred to as “spider troughs” due to their resemblance to cobwebs, as seen from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This image was…

A Blooming Thaw

  When the Martian ice fields warm up in the spring, geysers of gas and dust burst from the frozen surface, spraying darker material into the air. This material is carried by the wind across the ground, forming patterns that mark the direction of the wind when they erupted. Much of the ice on the…