Outer Planets

Juno Arrives at Jupiter, NASA Extends A Host of Other Missions As Well

Juno Arrives at Jupiter, NASA Extends A Host of Other Missions As Well

It is in many ways high summer for NASA’s fleet of robotic spacecraft deployed throughout the solar system. On Monday evening, as the fireworks were lighting up the night sky across much of the United States, the space agency’s latest probe, Juno, arrived in orbit around Jupiter. Coming nearly five years after it launched from […]

Posted in: NASA, Outer Planets
NASA Triple Header: Juno, Jupiter and the 4th of July

NASA Triple Header: Juno, Jupiter and the 4th of July

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has entered Jupiter’s magnetic field on its way to a July 4th orbital insertion around the solar system’s largest planet. The Juno spacecraft, which launched on August 5th, 2011 will spend 20 months looking deep into the gas giant’s atmosphere, hopefully yielding a treasure trove of information regarding its origins, and inner […]

Posted in: Outer Planets
Now Even Pluto May Be Harboring A Subsurface Ocean

Now Even Pluto May Be Harboring A Subsurface Ocean

A new study of Pluto’s massive chasms strongly suggests that the former planet is concealing a liquid water ocean beneath its bizarre and wildly varying surface. From the abstract in Geophysical Research Letters: The New Horizons spacecraft has found evidence for geologic activity on the surface of Pluto, including extensional tectonic deformation of its water […]

Posted in: Outer Planets
Hubble Astronomers Discover a Moon Around Dwarf Planet Makemake

Hubble Astronomers Discover a Moon Around Dwarf Planet Makemake

Here is yet another entry in the “look how fascinating our solar system is” column, courtesy of NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. From NASA.gov: Hubble Discovers Moon Orbiting the Dwarf Planet Makemake Peering to the outskirts of our solar system, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a small, dark moon orbiting Makemake, the second […]

Posted in: Outer Planets
9 Discoveries About Pluto’s System Revealed in New Horizons Papers

9 Discoveries About Pluto’s System Revealed in New Horizons Papers

It will still be quite some time before scientists receive all the 50 gigabits of data gathered by the New Horizons probe as it sped past Pluto’s system last July, but the first comprehensive set of papers to be published from the history making mission have come out in the journal Science. According to New Horizons […]

Posted in: Outer Planets
The Mysterious, Evolving Island in Titan’s Sea

The Mysterious, Evolving Island in Titan’s Sea

More fascinating observations of Titan’s seas from the Cassini spacecraft operating at Saturn. From NASA.gov: These images from the Radar instrument aboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft show the evolution of a transient feature in the large hydrocarbon sea named Ligeia Mare on Saturn’s moon Titan. Analysis by Cassini scientists indicates that the bright features, informally known as […]

Posted in: Outer Planets
“Remember the Cant” : Cassini Captures Stunning View of Three Water Rich Moons at Saturn

“Remember the Cant” : Cassini Captures Stunning View of Three Water Rich Moons at Saturn

  NASA released this photo of three of Saturn’s moons yesterday. The image, which was taken by the Cassini spacecraft in December shows Tethys, Enceladus and Mimas cast against the absurdly photogenic backdrop of Saturn’s rings. The original caption was “Three Times the Fun,” but perhaps it could also hae been called “Three Times the […]

Water Ice on Pluto Portents a Bright Future for Sailing the Solar System

Water Ice on Pluto Portents a Bright Future for Sailing the Solar System

From NASA, comments follow: “New data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft point to more prevalent water ice on Pluto’s surface than previously thought. This false-color image, derived from observations in infrared light by the Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument, shows where the spectral features of water ice are abundant on Pluto’s surface. It […]

Planet 9, Welcome to the Neighborhood!

Planet 9, Welcome to the Neighborhood!

First there was the Ed Wood classic, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Now, a fascinating bit of astronomical detective work from researchers at Caltech may have come up with the best evidence yet that somewhere well beyond the Kuiper Belt, our solar system harbors a massive, as yet undiscovered world they have dubbed “Planet Nine.” […]

Posted in: Outer Planets
New Worlds in Far Away Places

New Worlds in Far Away Places

Two new discoveries, one at the farthest boundary of our solar system, and one orbiting a dim star 39 light years add to a remarkable week of planetary news. First up is V774101, a 300-600 mile diameter world discovered orbiting at a distance 3 times further out than Pluto, and 103 times further than Earth […]

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