The Solar System

Rosetta Arrives at Comet Destination

Rosetta Arrives at Comet Destination

  After a decade-long journey chasing its target, ESA’s Rosetta has today become the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, opening a new chapter in Solar System exploration. Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and Rosetta now lie 405 million kilometers from Earth, about half way between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, rushing towards the inner Solar System at [continue reading]

Large Ocean Inside Saturn's Moon Enceladus

Large Ocean Inside Saturn’s Moon Enceladus

  NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and Deep Space Network have uncovered evidence Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbors a large underground ocean of liquid water, furthering scientific interest in the moon as a potential home to extraterrestrial microbes. Gravity measurements by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and Deep Space Network suggest that Saturn’s moon Enceladus, which has jets of water vapor [continue reading]

Did Greenhouse Gases Raise Ancient Martian Temperature?

Did Greenhouse Gases Raise Ancient Martian Temperature?

  Much like the Grand Canyon, Nanedi Valles snakes across the Martian surface suggesting that liquid water once crossed the landscape, according to a team of researchers who believe that molecular hydrogen made it warm enough for water to flow. Split panel comparing (a) a section of Arizona’s Grand Canyon against (b) a section of [continue reading]

Orbital Ballet of Pluto's Moons Hint of Long-Ago Collisions

Orbital Ballet of Pluto’s Moons Hint of Long-Ago Collisions

  A large impact 4 billion years ago may account for the puzzling orbital configuration among Pluto’s five known satellites, according to a new model developed by planetary scientists from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). Pluto’s moonsystem. Image Credit: NASA/ESA Starting with Charon, Pluto’s nearest and largest moon, each of the successively more distant — and much [continue reading]

Mars Crater May Actually Be Ancient Supervolcano

Mars Crater May Actually Be Ancient Supervolcano

  A research project led by Joseph R. Michalski, Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, has identified what could be a supervolcano on Mars – the first discovery of its kind. New research suggests the Eden Patera basin on Mars could have been formed by an explosive volcanic eruption, not the impact of a [continue reading]

Household Plastic in Titan's Atmosphere

Household Plastic in Titan’s Atmosphere

  NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has detected propylene, a chemical used to make food-storage containers, car bumpers and other consumer products, on Saturn’s moon Titan. This is the first definitive detection of the plastic ingredient on any moon or planet, other than Earth. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft looks toward the night side of Saturn’s largest moon and sees [continue reading]